BBC iPlayer

Search & nav

Two projects that I undertook in my role as lead designer responsible for Search and Navigation on BBC iPlayer

Business goal

To remove friction from navigating to iPlayer content


  • UX discovery and solution design
  • Design system development
  • Prototpying
  • Team leadership
  • Champion accessibility

TV/web/native feature iterations

Reduced time/clicks to playback, improved perception


Improving search

Quant studies showed that BBC iPlayer had a problem with usability, competitors scored more highly for ease of use. 

Looking at usage data, a high percentatage of search sessions resulted in no content being played.

Our goal was to improve the usability of the search feature whilst increasing the percentage of sessions that result in content being played.



I observed users navigating to content through iPlayer and other streaming services. I noted pain points and opportunities for improvement. 

I also questioned users about their feelings towards iPlayer and other streaming services to understand which factors were most important.

UI design

My goal when designing the user interface was to create an effortless way for users to find and access shows they're interested in.

I stripped back the user interface to only essential elements to keep the experience clear and functional, whilst adding additional ways for users to access content. 



I created prototypes for mobile, web and TV to understand how the experience felt to use. The prototypes were also used to test with users. prototype of TV experience


To date, the first iteration of the new search feature has been released. Due to technical constraints, it wasn't possible to AB test the feature prior to full release, so it's difficult to know if it led to an increase in content plays. However the release did lead to positive feedback from users on social media.

Category navigation

By studying usage analytics, it was determined that some categories of iPlayer content were underperforming. It was agreed to run an experiment to optimise the order of the category navigation to increase the overall number of content plays.



I began the project by undertanding how categories were used. I focussed on the analysis of quant data as I had a wealth of information available to me.


Data showing number of visits to iPlayer categories


Data showing the popularity of categories across web, mobile and TV

Information architecture

I worked with colleagues in product management and editorial to devise several models of categorisation using different principles. I also defined a means of comparing options against the project goals so that I could narrow down the variants to test with users. 


Existing solution


Proposed solution


I used Principle to create simple prototypes to understand the usability of the proposed solution across mobile, web and TV platforms.

Principle prototype of proposed web solution

Principle prototype of mobile solution

Remote user testing

I worked with a design researcher to set up simple test asking users to find certain content using the category menu. I recorded the number of successes vs failures and the time it took.


User testing results


The changes led to flat consumption overall, however the project was considered a success as it increased visits to iPlayer's high profile categories and positioned iPlayer more appropriately.