Frequency Podcasting Application

The Challenge

Podcasting as we know it is technologically lagging behind other content areas like TV, Movies, Music, and others. So how can Podcasting, one of the biggest growing industries, catch up? Frequency focuses on user research and competitive trends to imagine and prototype future scenario. We consider the different players in the industry, but we are focusing on bringing unique values to listeners. We realize that the listener makes up a small portion of the experience but it was the one we focus on based on accessibility for testing, business viability and researching.

The Project Plan

  1. Conduct user research and business research on products and services
  2. Run an ideation workshop using How Might We statements that were created based on the market research to help concept generation
  3. Create a low-fidelity prototype in figma we could test desiribiliy with
  4. Run user testing (remotely) and validate the desirability of the features we prototyped
  5. Refine prototypes into high-fidely designs with a brand and visual polish

The goal was to do this all in about three weeks time.

My Role

The team was made up of two product designers, and a project manager. My role during this project was split between another product designer but I would be leading the design phases and supporting the research and ideation phases.

Competitive Research

Podcasting is an immense space with many players. We took a look at the top players in the industry. Because we focused on the listener we honed in on players that catered to them like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocketcast and many more. We dove into some digital archeology and created customer profiles. We did this with user reviews on the Play store and Apple store, watched video reviews, and combed through articles. The compile this list we created an Airtable to keep track of comments and articles to reference and sort later.

Current jobs, pains, and gains

All the while we compiled a list of features missing and desired. Once we felt confident in some major themes we grouped them and started to create How Might We statements. From our synthesis we compiled a chart of Jobs, Pains, and Gains and group the themes into four categories: discovery, interoperability, consumption, and sharing.

Discovery

Listeners use podcasts to make routine activities more enjoyable, fill up time and get informed. Beginners can find the experience intimidating and frequent listeners noted the energy it takes to search for new content.

Interoperability

While smartphone is still the primary mode of listening, listeners also listen to podcast on desktops, through smart speakers and in car. While most enjoy the ease of starting listening and offline content, some struggles with device switching and finding content across different apps. Other pain points includes disruptions from looking up images accompanying audio, poor voice controls and concern for safety listening while biking or driving.

Consumption

Podcasts are a fantastic medium for keeping up with news, shows and influencers. Features such as subscriptions and auto-download allows for consolidation of new content and keeps topics of interest all in one place. However, seamless on-the-go listening often requires planning; As phone data and bandwidth can become a nuisance to manage. Listeners lack tools to understand their listening habits and show updates can feel unpredictable and overwhelming when there are too many subscriptions.

Sharing

Despite podcast listening still being primarily a solitude activity, many listeners share and use podcasts as references in their conversations with friends. Podcasts can be shared online and in-person in a room together.
Being static recordings, community engagement in real-time is limited and having a discussion without disruption when listening in person can also be difficult.

These are questions that we were going to ask people in our idea creation workshop which I will speak to next.

Concept Generation

We took this data and created an ideation workshop. The How Might We's based on the themes in the jobs, pains, and gains were:

Discovery - "How might we help old and new listeners find content that fits their personal lifestyle, goals and purpose?"

Interoperability - "How might we empower listeners to listen anywhere, across any number of platforms and devices, without interruption?"

Consumption - "How might we help listeners get updates, manage subscriptions and learn their consumption habits?"

Sharing - "How might we enable sharing, facilitate discussions and nurture communities for both listeners and content creators?"

Photo of users adding concepts for how might we statements

After proposing these questions we took about 3 minutes per question and then took another 2 minutes to talk about it.

Trends Speed Dating

Through our research we found some trends that came up again and again. We changed the lens our participants would think about the questions and allowed them to think about the following areas while trying to fine new concepts:

  • Original Content
  • Personal Recommendation and Customization
  • Advertising
  • Paid Membership
  • Health and Wellness
  • Inclusive Experience
  • Privacy and Security
  • Gamification
Trends speed dating

Idea Synthesis

From the ideation workshop we had a lot of ideas to go through. So we started to bucket them into areas and themes.

We still had a lot of themes so we wittled them down to prioritize which would be most useful. We did this by putting them into Airtable and rank them out of 3 based on three criteria.

Does it provide value to listeners?

We also considered whether the idea was a core function to the listener’s journey or a delight.

Does it match emerging trends?
We compared business focus of different players and imagined how this idea would fit within their strategies.

Can it be validated within our capabilities?

The team discussed potential barriers to the ideas, whether barriers can be tested and how they can be mitigated through low-fi prototyping.

After ranking everything we were able to move on to prototyping the different features.

Prototyping

In the next phase we were to prototype prioritized ideas in low-fidelity with Figma and test with listeners on a functional prototype to validate demand and develop concept. We would do this by creating low-fidelity wireframes, hosting an internal design critique, and creating an interactive Prototype to run user testing.

We grouped the different areas of the prototype we would focus on, which included the following ideas. Some concepts didn't lend themselves easily to being low-fidelity prototyped so we omitted them from the designs but called them out after as areas to explore.

Discovery Personalization

  • Advanced Search
  • Context-Based (Not prototyped)
  • Recommendations
  • Calendar Assistant (Not prototyped)
  • Guided Onboarding

Interactive Content

  • Multi-Media Listening
  • Audio Timeline Discussions
  • Quote, Save and Share
  • Audience Participation (Not prototyped)

Playback Customization

  • Smart Feed (Not prototyped)
  • Car Mode (Not prototyped)

Low-Fidelity Prototypes

I created all our prototypes using Figma as we were all remote and needed to be able to access it no matter when. Luckily we were able to leverage their interactive prototyping feature to run the remote user tests. We tested the flows below testing their desirability with people who represented power users, new listeners, and occasional listeners.

Onboarding was something that was really lacking in most apps we researched.
Being able to define exactly what you want was almost impossible
There is almost zero interaction with context creators and their fans

The content as is now is not malleable and can't be manipulated at all

We gathered all the feedback from the tests and started to implement it. The goal of this project was to refine as much as we could in the time we set aside. We had our hero features and now to add some brand and visual language.

High-Fidelity Mockups

Creating a voice for this app was a lot of fun. We went with something playful and joyful. The type of experience we wanted people to have using the app.

We were able to complete the work in the time frame we set out to. We learned a lot about having to do remote work and testing something none of us had done before as well as a new market that I was not very familiar with before this project. I also gained a new level of expertice in Figma I hadn't previously been able to achieve when working mostly in Sketch.