To make the watching iPlayer content a more enjoyable experience, leading to increased satisfaction and retention
TV/web/native mobile feature
Feature usage and improved perception
BBC iPlayer wanted to improve it’s perceptions with its user base, especially under 35s. It was decided that releasing a feature that let the user skip the introductions to TV shows would help to achieve this goal.
This was the most requested feature by users. It was also a feature that highly rated competitor products all had.
The idea was simple - to replicate the functionality users knew well from other video platforms and make a feature that just works. I wanted the feature to be so unobtrusive that they didn’t even notice they used it, they just enjoyed watching content.
I began the project by understanding how the feature worked on competitor projects and learning the design language of iPlayer.
I began by learning what users wanted in this space. I did this by reviewing previous research into the area and feature requests by users.
I learned that there were two key scenarios where users wanted to skip the introduction:
- Binge watching
- Familiar content - e.g. soap operas
So I knew I had to optimise my solution to these scenarios.
I also learned that as well as the introduction, there were other parts of a programme that users wanted to skip. I used this to expand the scope of the project.
BBC iPlayer is a mature product and has a full design system. I needed to ensure that my solution was a consistent part of this system.
iPlayer was undergoing a rebrand at the time, so I needed to make sure I worked closely with the branding team to make sure my solution was appropriate.
I worked closely with a designer on the brand team and together we developed a new button component and motion design specification.
I wanted to make sure that my solution fit into the existing iPlayer ecosystem.
I discussed my project with other designers to get their input and feedback.
By doing this I learned that there was an existing pattern - used in pre-roll trailers - that had a lot of similarities with my project.
As the solution was clearly defined, the UI design was straightforward. I designed several variants of the UI and discussed the pros and cons with designers, the product team and stakeholders.
The task was made more complicated by several factors that I needed to consider:
Cross platform - the solution had to work for TV, Web and Native mobile platforms.
Views - the solution had to work with different playback UI modes e.g. playback, control, compact & extended layout.
Coherency - the solution had to work within the context of a user journey i.e. what will the user see and do before and after this experience.
iOS UI design
Android UI design
I created several interactive protptypes and microinteraction demonstrations during this project.
Interaction concept prototype
Mobile interaction prototype
Coordination was the major risk to this project. I addressed this by getting another designer to join my team and tasking them with creating an end-to-end service map of how ‘skip’ data should move through the BBC.
We used this map to discuss risks and opportunities with the product team and stakeholders.
This led us to get teams from across the BBC to work together and work on this project at the same time.
I facilitated discussions between the business layer team and the three client platform teams to define a single data model that would fulfil user needs and was acceptable to all three clients.
As I planned from the outset, the solution we delivered is a simple feature that can be used effortlessly.
Based on the audit of the iPlayer content library and my research into user needs, we delivered a solution that allowed users to skip four different types of event:
- Recap of the last episode
- Coming up in this episode
- Coming up in the next episode
After sitting on the backburner for several years, after I joined the project we delivered it in a few months and managed to get the feature released on TV in time for Christmas.
The initial usage data is encouraging. The Skip button is pressed around 1 in 4 times it is shown. I expect this to increase as long-time users become familiar with the feature.
The Skip feature is released on the TV platform, but is still in development on Web and Native mobile.
I have begun discussions with the product and data teams around developing a second phase of the Skip feature. This would involve research into which direction has the most value.
On the surface this project seemed straightforward. I realised it had hidden depths both in terms of the solution required and the workflow needed to deliver the data.
I also realised that a project like this, that involves many different teams and disciplines, needs someone with commitment and drive to get things done.