In the Spring of 2017 we set out to make our mobile player more useable. There had been very little recent innovation on the mobile player and we knew experiences, such as scrubbing, on small devices like mobile phones could be cumbersome.
While we didn’t expect to significantly move any business metrics, we knew that usability and engagement with various aspects of the player were important nonetheless.
Early Design Explorations
In some of our early concepts, we explored ways to make scrubbing on a small device easier. In the following concept we added what we called a “filmstrip” across the bottom that would allow you to swipe it to progress forward or backward. We relied on momentum to determine how far the film would advance.
In this next concept, you could interact with the traditional forward/back buttons as usual by tapping to advance in either direction by some pre-set amount of time (e.g. 30 seconds), but we introduced a new action where tapping and holding on the button, would expose a new UI that allowed for finer grain control by scrubbing within a much smaller time frame.
At the end of the day, while novel, many of these concepts proved too complex from a usability standpoint and we ultimately settled on the tried and true forward/back UI buttons:
And here’s the final design:
This was one of my first forays into building a fully native iOS prototype using Swift. Besides getting much better performance when it came to video playback and events like scrubbing, it also allowed us to add some nice native touches such as momentum scrolling and haptic feedback.
As I mentioned, we didn’t anticipate moving any business metrics — our main goal was increasing overall usability — however, we were pleasantly surprised that our new design also lead to an increase in overall streaming.
The team that worked on this project, which include Ben J., Glen D., and Michaela W. as well as myself, was granted a U.S. patent for the player design and functionality.