A concept for approaching our digital listening in a more condensed and curated way
UX, UI, Interaction Design, Pitch Video
For the D&AD New Blood Awards, the BBC put forward a brief asking how to extend their streaming platform, BBC Sounds. The current iteration provides listeners with access to all radio and podcast content through a website and mobile app. While reception has been positive, they would like to focus on how their audience’s habitual behaviours could influence, shape and develop BBC Sounds for the future.
From here, my partner and I saw an opportunity to tackle how our relationship with media and technology may change in the coming years.
How could we help the BBC to move things in a positive direction?
We started with considering the listening competition. Amazon, Google, Apple and Spotify all have streaming audio platforms that are battling for your attention. They are constantly showcasing new features, refining the user experience, and pushing forward. Initially, it's hard to imagine where the BBC fits in this landscape.
While the variety of features implemented by other services was a good starting point, ultimately our idea stems from the goals of the BBC. As a public service, the BBC are uniquely interested in the health of their listeners. They aim to provide the best content that is both entertaining and enriching, whereas others may by more interested in your constant attention.
It probably won't surprise you to hear that that audiences have hit peak attention with their media consumption. Statistics show we spend nearly half of our waking hours staring at a screen. From students to busy professionals, people want to make the most of their limited time with the best programming available. So how can the BBC help listeners decide? How can we show that the BBC values your time?
BBC Mix is a daily assortment of programming curated for the time you have, so you can stay informed and entertained in a less demanding way.
By selecting short radio and podcast snippets that are best suited for you, BBC Mix will keep you up to date quickly and comprehensively.
Once you choose your favourite topics and set a daily time limit, BBC Mix will deliver a variety of programming snippets to match your interests. BBC Mix will check in to see if you’re satisfied with the time you spend, and allow you to adjust your daily limit whenever you choose.
BBC can leverage their wide catalogue of programming to find the best content for each individual user. By generating sound bites suited to your interests, you can easily find your new favourite program from BBC’s decades-spanning library.
Once we decided on our feature set, we made a high-level system map to guide us. This was helpful in visualizing our onboarding and core functionality. Initial maps showed us that we were trying to extend the features into many directions that weren't needed. To illustrate our concept, we needed to show the core value of our approach. If that was strong, it wouldn't be hard to imagine how it could be extended throughout the app.
With a system map and some initial copy, wireframes were made to lay out the onboarding process. As we developed the wireframes, we realized that the onboarding process built in the first system map was more complicated than it needed to be. We tried several different approaches, and ultimately ended up with a much better user experience.
The journey shown below helps to illustrate some of the design choices made in the curation page. For example, the sizing of the News category in Today's mix is larger due to the user defined length from the breakdown screen.
We choose to stay close to the current design as a way of creating familiarity with the new functionality. The colour palette and brush stroke are derived from BBC Sounds marketing materials. The orange is a prominent colour in their branding that works well for accenting the restrained colours of the BBC Mix interface.
Along with the design, we made a pitch video to better communicate our thoughts behind the problem and solution. The video also serves as a great opportunity to the show the app in motion.
We used free stock footage for all live-action shots. Motion graphics were made using After Effects and Principle. The voice over is me and the music is from a stock library.
An open brief like this provided an excellent opportunity to aim the work towards our own values while considering the client. We really wanted to dig into what would be best for the BBC and not just a general solution. I'm pleased that our ideas could highlight their value as an institution looking out for the public.
I'm happy with how we balanced our own visual ideas with the current approach of BBC Sounds. Our idea was simple enough that the core aspects are communicated, but there's room to improve. User testing would help refine our onboading further, and would likely bring about more uses for our feature set.
My introduction to D&AD was one of the best things to come from this brief. After receiving an award for this project, I completed several more briefs and was chosen along with 25 other international candidates to attend their summer academy in London, England. It was an incredibly educational experience that I would recommend to every designer.