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Project Overview

Streaming with Subwire

Mike Terry, the founder of Subwire, slammed his coffee cup against the plastic table and exclaimed: "You know, we really have something new and innovative here, this...this is what actually helps support artists AND fans!" He went on, elaborating about his product until the coffee-jittered sermon came to an abrupt end. He then subtly added: "We're just a little behind schedule when it comes to our MAUs." From that moment on our team went to work. 

My Role:
Lead UX Researcher
Timeline:
May - June 2023
UI Designer
Team:
6 UX/UI Designers 
Toolkit:
Figma
Google Forms
Otter.ai
Notion
Maze

What is Subwire?

Subwire is a live-streaming platform that allows artists to stream and monetize their performances. The platform also allows fans to stream the event from the audience while having the ability to make money off of it. In short, both artist / creator and audience / viewer are able to share their unique perspective of the event while capitalizing on the live-streamed performance. 

The Problem

Subwire was struggling to onboard users due to a lack of clarity, missing features, and a non-user-friendly interface.

1.

Listening To The Crowd 

Stakeholder Interview

We kicked off the project by conducting a stakeholder interview. Our goal was to understand how Subwire currently operated and positioned itself in the live-streaming environment. This interview also allowed the team to validate or dispel any preconceived notions that we might've had coming into the project. The most important insights were:

 

1. Create Connectivity: Subwire wanted to have a flourishing community of creatives and fans who'd be able to instantly connect, whether they were looking for inspiration or searching for new artists to listen to. 

 

2. Ease of Use: The current Subwire interface was flawed in many ways, but Mike couldn't locate the problems. He wanted the whole experience to feel easy and fun. He'd define our team's success by finding and addressing the specific problems that plagued the current application. 

3. Event Expansion: Like many ambitious start-up founders, Mike, was already thinking 10 steps ahead. He wanted the Subwire interface to translate to multiple event types such as youth sports, and urged that we take that into account when considering our design choices. However, he'd later tell us to focus primarily on music.

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Click below for a detailed page of the questions we asked. 

User Interview

We approached the user interviews with a different mindset. Since Subwire, wanted to cater to artists and music fans, our team reached out to 12 participants: 6 songwriters/musicians, and 6 music lovers to learn how they currently interacted with live-streaming platforms. 

We found two significant patterns:

 

Artist/Creator Insight: Artists lacked an easy way to market their performance while boosting ticket sales before the date of the show. 

Audience/Viewer Insight: Most viewers, did not stream musical events unless it was their favorite band. They preferred to go to the live shows. 

Click below for a detailed page of the questions we asked. 

Task Analysis

At the end of each user interview, we asked our participants to complete a task analysis. The goal: create your own live stream and share the event with a friend (in this case it was our research team).

 

What was clear was the amount of difficulty users faced when interacting with the current Subwire interface. We identified 4 major pain-points.

Pain Point 1

Unclear Language

The Home Screen was extremely confusing. Creators struggled to comprehend the meaning of the term "pop-up."

Due to a lack of distinction between creators and viewers, viewers were also uncertain about their role and whether the app was meant for them to use.

Pain Point 2

No Streamlined Invite

There was a complete absence of a quick and streamlined method for sending invites for live performances. 

 

Users expected a fast and efficient way to share their live stream, but the current process was 7 steps long! 

(Pictured below as step 3 screen)

Current Invite Process: 

Step 1

User selects "Create Your Own Pop-Up"/ a live-stream.

Step 2

User enters their information.

Step 3

User then clicks on email link Step 1 to enter the live-stream. 

Step 4

User is directed to a page to create their username.

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Step 5

User is live-streaming but there's no way to share the stream without going back to the original email.

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Step 6

User goes back to email and copies the step 2 email link.

Step 7

User shares link via text or social media platform.

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Pain Point 3

No Digital Artifact

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Both creators and viewers felt the lack of a "moment" or a digital artifact that could later be used for self-promotion or a keepsake. Currently, the only “moment” that was available was the ability to "capture" aka make a gif.

Users also continued to face confusion due to ambiguous terminology. In this case, it was the meaning of "capture". 

Pain Point 4

Interchangeable Roles

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The idea that fans could also be creators,  presented a significant challenge in terms of user understanding.

2.

Marching To The Beat

Competitive Analysis

Overall, the users we spoke with were confused and frustrated. The features and intuitive interface that they enjoyed using on other platforms were absent on Subwire. More importantly, the current user experience contradicted the very message of what Mike and his team had set out to achieve: To build a product that would help cultivate a community by sharing special moments through a digital platform.

 

So in order to understand what would make Subwire the preferred choice for content creators, we conducted a competitive analysis and created a features inventory.

Subwire was at a clear disadvantage versus their competitors. Other platforms had features that gave creators the ability to instantly connect with their fans while expanding the artist’s fanbase. Whereas Subwire did not. There were two key features that we realized we needed to implement into Subwire’s interface:

By implementing a Schedule Events feature, Subwire would allow artists to create a grassroots approach towards notifying their contacts and fans when their show was. Adding this feature also sparked the team’s creativity as we started to think about the possibilities of creating invitations and selling tickets within one flow. Half of Subwire’s competitors lacked this feature. 

Feature # 1
Schedule An Event

Subwire was at a disadvantage when it came to instantly saving and sharing videos of a performance. This feature also played into building the community that Mike and his team set out to do. Since users talked about the lack of the ability to have a digital artifact, this affirmed that we had to implement this feature into Subwire’s interface. 

Feature # 2
Save & Share Video

Personas

We continued to channel our user insights into 2 key target users audiences that Subwire was looking to attract.

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Journey Map

We then created a journey map to reflect the process our primary target user, the creator, currently experienced on the platform. ​Putting together the journey map gave us a clearer insight into how to design a user-friendly Subwire.  

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(Click to enlarge image)

Design Rethink

Lastly, we created three How Might We statement to guide our design solutions.

How Might We...

...provide users with a smooth and effortless way to stream & share events?

How Might We...

... distinguish roles and turn ambiguous language into easy language to understand functions?

How Might We...

Create an experience where each viewer could engage with Subwire in a personalized way?

3.

A New Harmony

Wireframes (Lo-Fi)

The Schedule An Event Flow attempted to address a seamless way to create an event as well as distinguish user roles. 

Schedule Event 1a

Schedule Event 1b

Schedule Event 1c

Shedule Event 1d

Confirmation Page

The Go Live Flow would give access to immediately stream events.

Get Started Page

Go live form (inactive)

Go live form (active)

Go live confirm

Live screen 

The landing page allowed viewers to see who was currently streaming. We eventually abandoned this concept due to its primary focus on the viewer rather than the creator. However, we incorporated many aspects of this into the "search" function as displayed in the prototype.

Landing Page

Hi-Fidelity Mock Up

Defined Roles
Having a "How it works" section allowed users to immediately comprehend what Subwire was and it's advantages for both creators and viewers. This would alleviate a lot of the frustration that users voiced in pain point 1.
Clearer Terminology
The choice of using "Go Live" over the previous "Create a pop-up" was rooted in having a clear and unambiguous language that confused users. Now, both creators and viewers would immediately have access to either 1) host a live stream, 2) watch a live stream event or 3) schedule an event.

We eventually refined the go-live call to action button as well as separated the "schedule an event" from the "go-live" to make the two actions more distinct. 
Artist Customization
Users would be able to create an event for the future, which created a way to alert fans. 
Record Function
Users would be able to share their live stream more efficiently.
Digital Artifact
Content creators now had the ability to record their stream so they'd be able to have an artifact for personal or publicity purposes after the event ended.

Usability Study

With the help of my team, I moderated a usability test with 6 participants, 4 musicians, and 2 music lovers.

We asked the musician participants to:

   1. Create a live stream as if they were about to go on stage to play a show. 

   2. Schedule an event for a future date.

To our dismay, we found that 3/4ths of our users were confused about which CTA to choose from.

Go Live
We intended for the user to tap the “go-live” button, which would allow them to immediately stream an event. Users were not being converted due to our design choices.
Schedule An Event

This feature was intended for users to schedule an event for a later date, but that’s not how the users viewed it. There was no clear indication behind our design intention. The terminology was still too ambiguous and musicians found themselves stalling before randomly selecting a button. 

Based on our results, we synthesized the "Go Live & Schedule An Event" flows into a single streamlined process "Launch A Stream" to minimize user confusion. We wanted to make it as clear as possible for both the creator and viewer to access the app. 

Before
After

When approaching our viewer participants, we asked them to:

   1. Watch a live stream on the application.  

100% of the users failed to complete the task. The problem was that we intended for viewers to watch a stream by tapping the "Go Live" CTA. The lack of a clear distinctive path was our error. 

 

There was a lot of input from the team on how to approach this problem. Since our secondary user was the viewer, we decided to create a hierarchy where the “Launch A Stream” button would be the primary action for creators, while the "Watch Now" button would be for viewers. We wanted to create a hierarchy to give the application structure, which would clarify which actions were intended for our two types of target users.

When we tested our new design solution with the same participants, they successfully completed our ask with a new completion rate of 100%. 

Before