With a unified brand across broadcast and print, the next step in ausbiz’s path to market was in its digital platform. Hidden was engaged for the design and development of ausbiz’s:
For the customer-facing apps, this would be ausbiz’s chance to break from the bounds of traditional broadcasting and create a unique viewing experience. The only problem - time was again not on our side, and the launch date was little over 12 weeks away. Not only would that involve designing the applications, but also building, testing, QA and training internal staff in workflows - in other words, ambitious to say the least. As with the branding, a lean approach would again need to be taken.
Taking our modular Sprints, Jams & Missions approach, we put forward a plan:
- build insight through research and analysis, ideate around possibilities, before prototyping and testing to gauge customer desirability and validate our assumptions around high-value features. Finally, wrap up a proposition with an engaging sales tool for exciting sponsors & investors.
- with the insights generated in the Proposition Accelerator, prioritise the features to make up ausbiz’s first release in the form of a Minimum Loveable Product, and then estimate the effort required to pull it off.
Design & Development
- design the user experience and interface in parallel with technical development
Training & Launch - conduct training sessions for staff and support the public platform launch.
Over the course of the Proposition Accelerator, we:
Gain an understanding of the business, brand, customer and market.
Define the unique value proposition of the product innovation - that is, discovering a compelling solution that customers will want to use
Mitigate value risk - that is, ensuring the business is not wasting time and money building features nobody wants or uses.
Articulate the vision and value of the offering into a communication tool for stakeholders and potential investors.
1 - discover
Having been on the journey with ausbiz in shaping their brand, we had an understanding of the goals and vision for the platform, as well as an understanding of the customer segments to inform the design of the brand. What we needed, however, was a comprehensive bedrock of insights with which to inform ausbiz’s digital offering.
To start, we ran a Digital Explorer Jam - Hidden’s design-led workshop alternative to a kickoff meeting - to align on goals for the project and gain a high-level picture of the business and market. During the 2-hour Explorer Jam, we conduct Expert Interviews and run Lightning Demos all while capturing assumptions made by the client that will require further validation.
👉 To support businesses through the digital shift caused by COVID-19, Hidden is currently offering a 2-hour obligation-free Digital Explorer Jam valued at $1600 to select businesses for free
. Contact us
to find out more.
With the context of the problem space and understanding of the clients’ mental models, the next step was to run a Value Proposition Jam to develop personas of the actors core to ausbiz’s business model - Users (Viewers), Customers and the Business. By mapping their Jobs-to-be-done, Pains and Gains, we were able to get in the heads of the different actors, as well as identify potential opportunities to add value and differentiate ausbiz’s digital offering.
Having worked in the finance media industry for years, ausbiz had a firm understanding of their target viewers, however the fact remained that the User and Customer personas were based on secondary information - they were assumptive personas. Without validation, relying on assumptive personas to guide product design decisions carries high value risk - that is, knowing with high confidence people people will choose to use it. To c th biases that often creep in, we needed some firmer qualitative and quantitative data to validate the assumptions made in the Explorer and Value Jams.
To start, we conducted customer interviews with the aim of firming-up our assumptive personas. Given the speed that we were running at, we had time for only a small number of interviews. However what interviews we were able to conduct provided useful insight into the day-to-day lives of potential ausbiz Users, and how the offering might fit into their day.
With the findings from the interview, we were then able to formulate a survey to seek quantitative validation. The surveys returned overwhelmingly positive desire for the offering and for the need of some aspect of personalisation.
Building empathy for the target audience and gaining a closer understanding of their digital habits and behaviours, we quickly conducted desk research and basic competitive analysis to complete the picture. Thinking in terms of jobs-to-be-done, this involved not only direct competitors, but also indirect competitors that competed on the job that the viewer was trying to achieve (eg. to feel more informed, or to feel in control of finances).
With a foundation of primary and secondary research, we were ready to move on to ideation and defining the value propositions for the different products.
2 - define
Any successful digital product depends on an exchange of value - the business wants users on its platform, but in return for that loyalty users need a reason to go there, and keep returning. For a streaming service, quality content is absolutely core - without it nothing else really matters - not the brand, not the user experience - nada. In the case of ausbiz, the live video stream would be accessible not only via ausbiz’s own apps, but also via third-party partners like 7Plus - a strategically important business decision to increase awareness and viewership, but at the same time potentially keeping viewers from converting into ausbiz registered users.
Whilst the ausbiz team were hard at work ensuring a high quality content offering, it was Hidden’s role to make sure that:
Ausbiz’s viewer-facing platform had a unique product value proposition that would encourage users to convert into registered users and continue to return and stay active on the platform.
Ausbiz’s staff-facing content management system (CMS) was frictionless enough for busy producers to publish and manage content on the platform.
Understanding challenges like these during the Define stage is critical to developing a product strategy that provides the best outcomes for all parties. To identify these possible challenges, we held a How Might We workshop, where we translated challenges into design opportunities in the form of “How might we...” - segmented by Viewer (User), Customer and Business.
With these opportunity statements, and building off what we have learnt in Discovery, we began formulating solution hypotheses in the form of ‘We Believe That (WBT)’:
WBT to cater to the widest possible audience in the most cost effective way, we should build web and native iPhone applications - given iOS users represented an overwhelming majority of the audience from the survey results(81%), it would not be viable to build and maintain a custom Android application at such an early stage in the business.
WBT the mobile application should be focused around on-demand content and personalisation, whereas the browser-based web application should be focused around the live viewing experience. The decision to integrate personalisation into the web app could be planned into the roadmap in the future, if user adoption warranted the effort.
WBT content should be tagged based on the companies, people and shows they are associated with. This would allow users to follow the companies that matter to them (and their investments), as well as giving companies a central location to showcase all the content related to them. This would need to be integrated into the workflow of the producers’ publication of content to the platform.
WBT to better understand which content was being received well vs underperforming segments, analytics would need to be considered and designed into the solution. A powerful video player with live and on-demand engagement analytics would also be needed.
From our research we knew that the most successful digital offerings in the finance media space not only delivered quality, trusted content - but they were ingrained in the daily habits of their users. Following the five key elements to habit-forming products from Nir Eyal’s Hooked framework - external and internal triggers, action, investment and variable reward - we ideated around what aspects of ausbiz might lead to it becoming part of finance professionals daily habits.
By increasing the user’s ability to personalise their ausbiz experience, its perceived value would increase over time, making the offering stickier. Our strategy was to integrate personalised notifications that fired when a company in the user's Follow list featured in an ausbiz content piece, creating an external trigger to the app. Upon completing the action of watching the video, the user would receive a variable reward - in this case, extrinsic rewards like unique information with the potential of impacting their financial investments, and intrinsic rewards such as feeling informed and empowered. Over time, the ritual of following the external trigger through the loop would develop into a habit driven by internal motivations.
3 - visiontype
It was time to design a visiontype to be tested with users to validate our value proposition hypotheses. Unlike a prototype, a visiontype is used for:
Demonstrating high-level key concepts in a realistic way - not focused on small details of the user experience
Testing and validating high-level key concepts with users - not usability testing
Making a vision tangible so that it energises teams and potential investors
Considering the web app was to be a basic video streaming experience, the features were considered must-haves and not in need of validation. Where the risk lay was in the richer features of the iOS app - namely around Follow personalisation, podcast functionality and market data. Given their complexity, these features would be costlier in time and effort and so validation would be needed to justify that expense.
To achieve the level of interactivity and rich media required, we opted to build the visiontype in FramerX, before testing it with finance professionals. Fortunately, although the time we had for research and testing was lean, it had proved invaluable as our hypotheses around personalisation were validated - particularly the ability to Follow individual companies of interest, as a differentiating feature of the product that would add to its value.
💡Visiontypes provide excellent derisking tools in innovation, particularly in proving desirability of a value proposition. Moving into development of a value proposition founded on untested hunches is akin to gambling your company’s time and money building something that potentially offers no value to customers or the business.
Satisfied that we had mitigated value risk for the mobile application, the fianl step in the Proposition Accelerator would be to create a tool that would aid the business in communicating the proposition to investors.
5 - pitch deck
We closed out the Proposition Accelerator with a deck providing an overview of the value proposition, with high-fidelity designs of the visiontype to help crystallise the product vision and potential of the product in a tangible form for possible investors. With this, the business was able to paint a picture of the application to investors and attract funding.
With value risk now mitigated, it was time to address feasibility risk - that is, can we build this on time and budget?
With the work done and outcomes achieved in the Proposition Accelerator, the reality was that the product launch was looming and that we would need to prioritise the features for the initial release.
In a day and age where customer expectations are high and attention spans low, first impressions matter. A digital product may only get one chance at converting a potential user into an early adopter, and it is only when a product is truly solving a deep customer pain that they will tolerate a poor user experience. To counter this, at Hidden we prefer to work with Minimum Loveable Products with the first release goal being to attract a loyal tribe of early adopters that will fall in love with the product. The key to a MLP is doing fewer things to an exceptional, memorable level, rather than an MVP which covers many features to a satisfactory level but does not exceed expectations.
1 - wireframe
Our first step was to rapidly wireframe out the ideal-state based on the insights we had gathered in the Proposition Accelerator. Some may consider this step wasteful since the wireframe will be discarded after prioritisation and scoping. But as visual thinkers, we find this step to be invaluable in creating a visual reference of the big picture for the MLP, allowing our team, the client and any users we wish to involve to make more considered decisions when prioritising features.
💡It’s important to remember that these aren't UX wireframes. The aim of these wireframes are to map out all of the screens of the MLP for prioritisation and scoping - so it’s important to remain low-fidelity and fast.
When it comes to the debate of paper vs digital wireframing, we support whichever technique reaches the end result as quickly as possible - in this case our designers took a digital approach, taking advantage of reusable components.
2 - prioritise
Next - prioritise, prioritise, prioritise! This is never a simple task, particularly with founders who are closely attached to their solutions or feel the release would be lacking without the complete solution. In reality, products that try to appeal to everyone and include everything become bloated and end up appealing to noone due to their lack of focus and simplicity. The best, loveable products fulfil a specific need for a specific group of people.
To identify the features that would deliver the highest impact, we ran a Feature Prioritisation Jam with ausbiz, using a combination of techniques:
MoSCow to identify the Must-have, should-have, could-haves and will-not-haves
Kano Model to identify Delighter features that would elevate the first release beyond functional and add to the products loveability.
3 - Technical Scoping & Architecture
With a set of features circled for the MLP and assigned a priority, our designers and strategists worked closely with our development team to translate the features into high-level product requirements. With an understanding of what the product needed to achieve, our technical team mapped out the application architecture to ensure scalability, reliability and maintainability.
Design and Development
With scoping completed, we were ready to hit the ground running with the design and development of the platform which would be done in parallel streams (iOS, Web, CMS) to account for the aggressive timeline.
runway (sprint zero)
For projects where the development will be completed following an agile approach, design starts with a period of time known as the Runway (also referred to as Sprint Zero). During the Runway period, designers work on laying high-level preparatory design foundations for the user experience including the interaction model, information architecture, screen flow and UI design system. Developers work on any technical foundations that are non-design dependent. After the Runway has ended and agile sprints commence, designers focus on dependencies for development’s upcoming sprint, as well as supporting development in the current Delivery Sprint.
Our designers quickly got to work rapidly detailing out the user experience of the customer-facing applications.
After arriving at a framework for the UX, the next step was to establish a UI Design System for the applications. Our approach to UI design is much like the way our services at Hidden are modularly structured through Jams, Sprints and Missions - we start with the interface’s smallest components (for example, a button), which then combine to form larger components and eventually full screen designs. This methodology, known as Atomic Design, not only allows us to reuse components but ensures consistency and updatability - when one UI component is changed, the changes are reflected in all other components that reference it.
Our Product Designers would then focus on a particular feature/aspect of the UI during each Delivery Sprint and, once the UX had been worked through, assemble components from the design system into the screens. Compared to a traditional big-design-upfront waterfall approach, this approach allows the team to work collaboratively and adapt, rather than being locked into a design from the start.
Concurrently, our team was addressing the inner workings of the application and the production workflows of staff. One challenge in particular was to tackle how content would be categorised. Not only would this classification be crucial for users to find information, but it also impacted the personalisation functionality and navigation of the application. We accounted for this by implementing a tiered taxonomy of topics, where topics can have both parent and child topics. If a user were to follow a parent topic, all content assigned to a child topic would also flow through to their content feed.
To make things even more complex, topics could also have related topics - but we won’t get into that ;)
To map out all the possible topics and how they related to one another, we held a Card Sort Jam with ausbiz. Card Sorting is a UX exercise for organising information into logical groupings, and can be open (groupings are created) or closed (groupings are predetermined, and cards are arranged into those categories). In this case, we began the exercise with rudimentary group names, and added and refined the groupings until we had settled on a first taxonomy iteration for launch.
Newsrooms are fast-paced, high-stress environments and the last thing ausbiz’s producers needed was to learn and deal with a tangled web of new systems that kept them from focusing on their jobs. For us, that meant ensuring the CMS was as intuitive and low friction as possible. However, a producer’s role involves moving between many applications before interacting with the CMS - including live broadcast production and post-production systems. Despite these other applications being out of our direct control, we felt the end-to-end experience of the producer needed to be strongly considered. Fortunately, being a startup, ausbiz was in the position of being able to reimagine the producer’s journey from scratch.
By facilitating a Journey Mapping Jam with ausbiz and the other technical providers, we helped visualise the entire day-to-day journey of a producer and the different touchpoints they would encounter from the live stream filmed in studio to an edited video clip published on the website, highlighting possible areas of friction and opportunities to elevate the experience for the producer. For us, it only allowed us to design the CMS in a way that was intuitive and made the barrier to entry for publishing very low. For the business, it was a way of using design strategically to align the different technical providers on roles and responsibilities in a collaborative, visual way - an excellent example of the design’s potential beyond graphical execution.
Once the design foundation was established, it was time to move into Delivery. Over the course of just five Delivery Sprints our design and development team worked as a collaborative, unified unit to deliver a market-ready MLP for launch.