Ideation, Branding, User research, User interface, Information architecture, Visual design, Interactive prototype
Podcastori is a side project that arose from a problem I was personally facing. As a podcast lover, I listen to content from various creators on platforms like Spotify and others. While listening, I often wonder what other listeners think about some of the topics discussed. Other than consuming content, listeners have minimal means to interact with content creators, which often gives the impression that there is a gap between the two.
I was also hearing from close friends who had started their own podcast that it was really hard to build an audience and make a living from it. The lack of engagement by listeners was a significant source of discouragement. Taking inspiration from other products such as Twitch and Patreon, Podcastori is an attempt at solving this problem by creating a platform that facilitates how creators engage with their audience.
“We have observed that podcast streaming services do not provide creators with sufficient means to engage with their audience, resulting in a lack of audience engagement and decreased motivation for creators. How might we create a platform that connects creators with their audience so that the website is more successful based on the number of interactions on podcast content?”
1 | Product ideation
While remaining aware of my personal biases, I used my experiences on many podcast streaming platforms to identify some opportunities that could be exploited in a new service offering. Since I was considering turning the idea into a potential business, I used Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas template to define a simplified business model and identify a unique value proposition. Emerging podcast creators then appeared as potential early adopters.
2 | Prototyping
The platform was initially designed to create a compelling user experience for podcast listeners. While working on the minimum viable product (MVP), I came up with a company name and was inspired to define its brand identity. In parallel, I created a design system with several UI components following the atomic design approach. These components were used to create an interactive prototype to iteratively validate how the product should be designed to meet user needs.
3 | Interviewing podcast creators
The next step was to validate my assumptions about podcast creators through interviews. Since I personally knew several creators, I contacted them to learn more about their creative process and better understand the problems they were facing. The interactive prototype created in the previous stage was used to iterate on some ideas with the creators and further develop the platform based on their feedback.
4 | Implementation
The interactive prototype was an excellent tool to validate the minimum viable product (MVP). After making some improvements to the design based on user interviews, the next step was to turn the prototype into an actual product. I decided to take this opportunity to deepen my knowledge in full stack development. So far, the process has been rewarding, and I hope to be able to launch the product in the near future.
The design system was built in parallel to the high-fidelity mocks. UI components were created and documented in Figma following the atomic design approach. In addition to speeding up the process of building interfaces, creating a design system has proven particularly useful when transposing mock-ups into code with ReactJS. The system’s modular design fit perfectly with React’s component-based architecture approach.
The homepage was designed to communicate the platform’s unique value proposition. Each page section uses a header and a call to action based on user needs. The objective is to allow users to discover the platform according to the features most relevant to them. The page’s graphic design was created to inspire creative freedom.
Searching and browsing patterns were inspired by similar platforms to present content in a way that users are familiar with. For example, the "Browse" tab of the main navigation bar allows users to discover content by presenting selections of podcasts under different sections, such as current trends and recommendations. Users can also browse podcasts and episodes by category or use the search bar.
Podcasts & Episodes
The UI for podcasts and episodes was designed to encourage engagement among community members. A dedicated comments section is provided at the bottom of each episode’s page to allow listeners to share with each other. It also gives an opportunity for creators to gather feedback on their content and engage directly with their audience.
The creator’s page allows listeners to discover all the content published by a podcast creator, including recent episodes. If listeners wish, they can subscribe to creators of their choice to unlock exclusive content produced by them. By paying a monthly subscription, community members can directly encourage creators and access exclusive content such as podcasts, episodes, and posts. These perks are available under a creator’s page’s "Community" tab.
The Creator Studio helps creators to publish their content and to interact with their community. It includes several features that provide them with various ways of viewing the progress of their community, sharing with their listeners, and collecting revenue generated by their exclusive content. Creators can also use the Studio to customize their page to reflect their creativity and uniqueness.
The following video presents an overview of the interactive prototype produced to test the product with users. It shows different ways of navigating the platform as well as the process of subscribing to creators to unlock their exclusive content. It also introduces the Creator Studio, which contains several features that allow creators to publish their content, interact with their community members and follow the evolution of their community.
One of the main learnings I took away from this project is the importance of validating assumptions with users as early as possible in the design process. For example, I believe that getting feedback from creators and listeners on an embryonic idea such as the first business model I had created would have been beneficial in validating certain assumptions, which were subsequently evaluated during user testing with the prototype. Other findings from this project include:
- Validate ideas with a high risk as soon as possible with users;
- Recruit users who remain available to test these ideas throughout the design process and share their honest opinion;
- Be aware of your own biases when designing a solution that addresses a problem you experience personally.