Verizon Go90 Video Experiences
Q4 2017 – Q2 2018
Lead UX Designer (Go90) / Lead Product Designer (Interactive Video)
With Verizon’s recent acquisition of Yahoo and the formation of the Oath umbrella, there was an opportunity to improve the Verizon Go90 app (a video streaming service). While the app already had a four-star rating on the Apple App store, there were obvious areas of improvement in terms of the user experience. Concurrent to the UX refreshes, we worked with the content team and third-party studios to ideate shows that would be filmed and presented in a vertical format – optimized for mobile. In Q2 2018, the team pivoted to focus on a new app that would serve only vertical content. We also deeply thought of ways to marry vertically formatted content with interactive elements that were unique to mobile.
Although Go90 had a catalogue of hundreds of great content from original, award-winning shows to live sports games, it was challenging for users to discover and browse content. An unexpected, alternating grid of showcased content (episode thumbnails in a vertical list vs. show posters in a horizontal list) made it difficult for users to digest the variety of content that was being offered.
To make discovering and browsing content easier for users, a genre page filter was introduced to organize content. With exception to the “currently watching” section above the fold, we separated show thumbnails and episode thumbnails from appearing in the same space. We also conducted a user study which found that most people browse long-form video content by genre, so we brought that capability to the top-level of the app. Swiping to the “Action” tab reveals sub-categories of that genre.
We also thought of an interesting way to allow users to consume many trailers at a time (to increase a probability of a user successfully discovering new content). We introduced bundles of trailers in curated categories (e.g. Fall TV, Emmys, Heroes, Villains, etc.) that would be visible early on in that initial vertical scroll.
Another way we wanted to make browsing a less painful experience was to autoplay content with as little effort from the user as possible. Currently, when tapping on a show poster, the user is taken to the show page and is met with a redundant show banner. The user must scroll down and tap on content to start watching. I proposed replacing the banner with a video player that autoplays the trailer – and if the user finishes watching the trailer, the system will take the completion as a sign that the user is interested in continuing watching and the next video (Episode 1) will autoplay. If the user is uninterested, the show page can be dismissed at any time.
Once users found a new show to watch, we realized that many people were unaware that a whole season was available to binge watch. The current show page displayed only four episodes at a time and required users to tap on a button – bring them to another page – in order to see the full episode list. It was an obvious solution to remove the extra step and reveal the full episode list up front.
What made the live page experience lacking was that the old design was set up in a traditional television-style schedule, where users could browse by date and time. However, more and more users are browsing by the type of content. With all of the live offerings by Go90 focused on sports, we kept the consistent navigation of swiping horizontally to filter out by genre (or, in this case, sport leagues). On the live watch page, I swapped the related content list (a mix of live and upcoming games with random, shorter clips), with a simple schedule list so that users see similar, related content.
Slight tweaks were also made to the existing UI throughout the app, which you can see between the old and new designs:
Changed the background color to pure black to not disrupt the video consumption experience
Polished video player UI icons
Added a duration timestamp to individual episodes (this replaced the video’s published/uploaded timestamp)
Removed the cluttering effect of show logos next to every video thumbnail (on the homepage and show/watch page)
Have show/movie thumbnails in vertical format and episode thumbnails in horizontal format, and being intentional on where show vs. episode thumbnails are being displayed
As discussions about offering vertical video content increasingly grew, coupled with Verizon unsure of its long-term plans for Go90*, the team pivoted to focus on a brand new video app that focused on interactivity and vertical videos.
*the Go90 app was shut down by Verizon on July 30, 2018.
Impact & Learnings
With a restructuring of the media organization/department in Q3 2018, the team has pivoted to support the Yahoo Entertainment vertical, and there is great support behind leveraging interactivity in the video consumption experience. All of the learnings surrounding vertical videos, interactivity, and video consumption has carried over to a new app, which is set to launch in Q4 2018.
While the UX improvements for Go90 were not shipped/launched in Q1 2018 as planned, Netflix’s release of vertical video trailers (very similar to our proposed design) in Q2 2018 highlights video apps tackling the common, underlying problem that users have when it comes to discovering and browsing content. Moreover, the recent releases of the IGTV app (Instagram’s long-form vertical video app) and the Dreams app (traditional TV shows recut into the vertical format; created by a former Instagram employee) backs the growing trend of videos being consumed on mobile, while the explosive popularity of the HQ Trivia app supports the growing movement of sticky interactivity in mobile.