Concept project completed as a group of 3 at General Assembly.
Increasing social activity around original Amazon series.
We redesigned the mobile app to make it simpler, then added ways to share reactions and comments via social media and WhatsApp.
I enjoy animation so I also developed an innovative feature to create animated gifs from Amazon shows and share with friends.
As part of the immersive UX course at General Assembly I completed a group project, in which we reworked the Amazon Videos platform. This was done in order to increase social activity around their Amazon Originals shows.
An “Amazon Original Series” is content that is produced, co-produced, or distributed by Amazon exclusively on their services. Since 2013, Amazon has distributed original television programs through its Amazon Video service, and has been responsible for creating a number of award-winning series.
Amazon is looking to significantly increase social activity related to their original series in the UK. Additionally, Amazon wants to target existing and potential Amazon customers around a continually expanding portfolio of original content in series and films.
We broke this down into three main goals:
Increase social activity
Make the user feel engaged in a unique and compelling way
Improve navigation around the Amazon Videos app
We realised that the existing Amazon Videos app— and the enormous Amazon ecosystem it inhabits — is actually quite complicated. We couldn’t simply add features to a bloated app, instead we would have to streamline it and improve navigation, before adding extra functionality.
Following the UX mantra of Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver, we honed in on pain points and possible solutions. Then we set out to test and iterate.
We sent surveys out to our social networks and also approached people in local cafes in order to gather subjects for initial user research.
Our interviews were built around how people watched series, what they watched, and how they communicated about these shows with their friends.
After numerous interviews, we started to see some patterns in people’s viewing behaviours. Affinity mapping key quotes helped us identify common themes.
We built several personas out of this research, but our main user would be Nathan, a graphic designer living in London, who loves discovering new content and sharing it with his friends. He’s a big fan of memes and prefers WhatsApp to social networks, but still enjoys social media. His abbreviated persona is show here:
One surprising finding from our user research was that that a significant number of people used their phones while watching TV. And this is backed up by research from Adwatch that found 87% of people use a second screen. Some users liked the YouTube and Spotify apps’ ability to cast content to their TV and control it from their phone. They also look up extra info, and send messages to friends on WhatsApp — often about the show they are watching.
We therefore decided to focus on second screen users and build some innovative features around this premise. We also had to ensure the app would still work as a primary screen if the user was not casting content to their TV, but actually watching it on their phone.
We decided to do three things:
Create a social platform where users can connect with friends and share emotions about the shows they are watching.
Allow the user to see friends’ recommendations in addition to Amazon’s recommendations.
Add ability for users to create and share content about their favourite shows.
The first two steps would be quite easy to implement and these were built and tested first. In order to create and share content on the app, we were going to take the ambitious step of building a new feature where the user could grab a gif from the show they were watching, edit it, and send to a friend.
This was inspired by the enormous popularity of reaction gifs and the giphy.com website, which features many gifs pulled from TV shows. We thought we had the opportunity to do something cool and pretty spectacular. If we could pull it off, we were confident that this would fulfil the brief of increasing social sharing in an engaging and compelling way.
One finding from user research was that the current app was confusing. Users generally preferred the Netflix app. Taking the best from both worlds, we streamlined the current Amazon app before adding new features. All of the genres and all of the current footer links were relocated to a sidebar opened from the hamburger icon. This is similar to Netflix , and allowed us to keep just three key icons on the footer bar. Space was saved at the top of the screen, making it seem less cluttered, and the main screen browsing options were changed to Friends’ Recommendations — shows liked by friends the user has connected to, similar to Spotify — and Recently Watched, allowing quick access through the most likely user flow.
The paper and digital prototypes below show the flow from home page, through series selection, watching an episode, and making a gif.
The idea is that while the viewer is watching the episode, she can pause it and choose to either add an emoji (which her connected friends would see on their homepage), grab a 5 second gif from that point, or share a link to the episode. If the viewer is watching the episode on their smart TV or via Amazon Firestick, they can continue watching the episode and use the phone as a linked ‘second screen’. If they are watching it on their phone, they will have to pause the episode. Adding text underneath each icon clarified the actions for users, and creating a custom icon for the ‘grab gif’ function added personality to the app, which would help spread the Amazon brand.
Here are three user journeys we fulfilled for our user Nathan.
Scenario 1 – select gif and share via WhatsApp
Nathan wants to browse popular gifs and share with a friend.
Nathan opens the app, navigates to the gif centre via the footer bar to browse popular gifs made by other users of the app. He selects the ‘Weird’ category and selects a gif from the show Mozart in the Jungle. This has a #MozartInTheJungle hashtag on it, in order to increase advertising of Amazon Originals. At this point he can add a photo to the gif or additional text before sharing or saving it. He is given the new option of sending via DM, which will go straight to the profile of a connected Amazon user, but he prefers to use WhatsApp. This also allows Amazon to reach more potential customers outside of the platform and encourage them to join.
Scenario 2 – adding an emoji
Nathan wants to watch a show and share the experience with a friend.
On the home page Nathan can see that American Gods is in the Friends’ Recommendations section. The star rating is derived from his connected friends. It also has a couple of emoji reactions from friends, similar to how they are displayed in Slack. He starts watching the show and adds his own emotional reaction.
At this point, he can also browse the app for related gifs and share with friends. Nathan, however, is a power user and wants to go one better. As the old saying goes:
Nathan hits the grab gif button and the app pulls 5 seconds of video from the pause point and coverts to a frame animation. He can then trim the start and end point, hit next, and edit and share his creation.
Nathan’s friend Mieszko sees he has notifications and wants to see what has been shared.
He sees he has notifications, goes to his profile, and selects the message from Karolina. In this example, she has added her face to a gif from the Amazon Original Mr Robot to create a spicy meme.
We took ambitious steps to make the user feel engaged in a unique and compelling way. This approach should significantly increase social activity on Amazon Videos. Users told us we fulfilled the brief in a fun and exciting way.
A selection of final screens, including further animated prototype transitions.
Palette and typography followed the Amazon style guide. We made significant changes to the UI in order to explore icons, gifs and other new additions.