Designing the world’s largest branded content catalog: Discover

With Discover, content creators and planners explore millions of ideas for their new campaigns and content for their social media channels. It allows users to discover inspiration, find concept evidence and explore whitespaces for their brand’s content.

Discover search results page
Discover’s search results page

My Role

  • Research
  • Wireframing
  • Prototyping
  • UI/UX
  • Front-end
  • Icon Design
  • User Interviews

Team

  • CEO
  • Head of Product
  • Product Manager
  • Dev Lead
  • Four Backend Devs
  • Myself

Tools

  • Google Docs
  • Balsamiq
  • Moleskine
  • Google Slides
  • Atom
  • Sketch
  • Invision

Timeline

  • Two years
  • Oct 2015 – Jul 2018
  • More than 10 releases

Discover

CEO’s Idea

Discover is Unmetric’s third core product and #2 in usage/sales. I worked on it from ideation to execution with our CEO and Head of Product. The first discussion took place in October 2015 when our CEO briefed me his new idea. He explained that we have a huge amount of social data from six biggest networks, and it could be useful to look through that data and learn from history.

User Research

Along with our product manager, I wrote a bunch of questions to understand user needs and challenges. She and our head of parternships got in touch with our existing customers and talked to their content teams and gained first hand knowledge about their problems and existing solutions they were using.

Primary users

Content creators were our obvious target audience. Being a creator myself, I knew that finding inspiration is always tricky but a very important step in creating something new.

Secondary users

CMOs were the secondary users. They would be leading the social content strategy team and reviewing new content ideas and campaigns.

Lean UX book cover
I learned outcomes based approad from Lean UX. See other books in my library

Outlining requirements business and user outcomes

After our Head of Product shared a doc outlining product goals, specifications and MVP requirements, I got on a call with him to be on the same page. After digesting everything he shared, I recommended we should rather focus on the business outcomes (we are trying to achieve) and user outcomes (that we will help users achieve).

Assumptions to be validated

In addition to that, I added assumptions we were making as a business and on behalf of users. We agreed that if these assumptions are proven to be false, our product might fail. We also listed down the least amount of features that can help our target audience to achieve their outcomes.

The requirements document where I added business and user assumptions and outcomes.

Uncovering user motivations

Next, I initiated discussion around user needs and challenges they are facing. I used “the five why’s” method to uncover the user’s motivations and assumptions we might have for the users.

A sketch of Why Discover makes sense

Define

User needs and challenges

Using the user research data, I created a Google doc outlining user’s needs and challenges, efforts they were making, and their workflow. This helped build a shared understanding in the team. In the same doc we also wrote product vision and later on added the product architecture.

Experimenting the Amazon’s Way

Before adding the last section, i.e., Product architecture, I suggested our team to write a press release for Discover together. This approach is widely used by Amazon for developing new products and features. I wanted to experiment and the team agreed.

A Google Doc outlining user needs and challenges, efforts they make and their existing workflow.

A press release I suggested based on Amazon’s approach to product development and we wrote as a team.

App Architecture

Once we listed some exciting and interesting benefits of Discover for the target audience, I started thinking about the product architecture.

I listed the most common actions (find, save, annotate, and share) users would need to perform in order to move forward in their workflow of content creation.

Focusing on users’ needs helped me outline what type of content and features would help them achieve outcomes they seek.

Calendar view for Topics

I came up with six main sections:

Calendar view for Topics
Calendar view for Explore (later renamed to Topics)
Explore section
Explore section layout
Calendar view for Topics
Homepage feed
Explore section
Followed topics functionality outlined
Explore section
Search and Explore functionality outlined
Onboarding flow
Onboarding flow V1

Develop

Making decisions with Wireframes

After we agreed on the product sections, I quickly created some wireframes to show our Head of Product and we finalized what features needs to be shipped first.

Discover Explore wireframe
Discover Filters wireframe

Two of 20+ wireframes I created in Balsamiq to get feedback

Developer Handoff: Clearly outlining what needs to be built

Before starting with UI design and development, I created a requirements doc listing all the features, tasks and interaction. This helped development team understand what needs to be built, plus they could collaborate, ask questions and suggest ideas.

Discover Feature Requirements
One of the many pages listing all the options (with steps) that can be offered for a user action.

Deliver

Build to learn

We wanted to ship Discover fast and quickly learn and iterate. The UI mockups would have taken weeks if not months. To speed things up I jumped straight into code editor and started building the UI components.

Skipping the mockups for speed

In 2 weeks, I handed off the most important and development intensive features to developers so we can work simultaneously. After three months of collaboration and development, we launched the beta version to a few existing customers. The first public version was launched after that in June 2016.

Discover search results page V1
Discover’s old search results page
Discover search results page
Discover’s search results page
Discover board page
A Discover board
Discover topics page
Explore section listing all the popular days and events a user can follow
Discover topics following page
A followed topics page
Comments modal
Comments modal enables users to have a discussion around a content piece
Add to a Board modal
Add to a Board modal enables users to collect all interesting stories at one place.

Iterate

Learning from the user interviews

Within a month after launch, we collected both qualitative and quantitative data to understand what’s working and what’s not, and why. I participated in the user interviews (with Unilever, Wunderman, and DFW) with our CEO and Head of Product. Here’s what we learned:

Reflecting fast on the feedback

Based on the above feedback, I created hi-fi prototype in Invision which we tested with Unilever and DFW. This whole process of creating a prototype and testing took us only a week, and we got validation on the new direction from our customers.

Discover prototype
Invision prototype

Shipping V2

The homepage feed was replaced with search (as 80% of the users were using search and only ~5% were looking at feed). We also improved search results page to show more content upfront along with a list of profiles posting it.

Revised homepage
Revised Homepage design with focus on search

Outcome

2x

organic signups as compared to Unmetric Analyze.

25%

converted into paid users from the total signups.

70%

contracts closed when Discover included in the package.

What I Learned


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