Laugh.ly (aka Laugh Radio, Inc.) is a mobile streaming service focused on the delivery of spoken word content, primarily stand-up comedy. Often billed as "the Pandora for comedy," Laugh.ly streams content from dozens of comedians to monthly subscribers.
When I joined as a consultant, Laugh.ly's user base was a relatively small group of dedicated fans and early adopters. The technology worked well, but the founder was interested in designing new features and experiences to attract more content creators and users in pursuit of the almighty hockey stick growth.
It was the assumption of the Founder that adding live video, live chats, and doubling down on the social features was the way to grow the user base.
By creating new avenues for comedians to connect with fans through the development of a social streaming platform inspired by Twitch, Laugh.ly hoped to attract more creators and in turn more users. It sounds like a great plan in principle, except for one glaring issue: this idea was based on zero research!
I believe the old adage applies here. More importantly, it's risky to assume features that are successful on another platform will be successful on your own because we're interacting with a completely different community of users with very different jobs to be done.
Before radically overhauling the product to the tune of significant engineering costs, I suggested we find out more about the expectations, wants, and desires of the Laugh.ly community.
The Founder was already sold on his idea, so whatever research I had to do to convince him, I had to do it quickly. So I organized a five day user research sprint and interviewed six Laugh.ly users and four comedians.
Through these conversations I ended up with a lot of enlightening data, but the two main takeaways focused on where users listen to Laugh.ly:
The passive engagement inherent in these scenarios explained the radio silence on comment boards and other social features already implemented in the app. If the majority of your users are uninterested or unable to actively engage with the app in the manner required to sustain live-streaming, then implementing those features will most likely fall flat.
The other insight I gathered from these interviews was users just wanted more content, namely video content.
To the Founder's credit, when presented with the research findings he immediately pivoted away from live-streaming features and embraced the user requests for video content.
The challenge then was to design the best approach for adding video to a previously audio-only app.
With the addition of video, the thumbnail needed to be visually distinct in order to indicate to users the differences in types of content. The video block also needed to be appealing and large enough to signify importance, since it was a new feature that deserved visibility.
The two-to-one screen width ratio of audio content blocks and video content blocks gives the list of content on a channel screen a nice rhythm and balance, but it became obvious that a way to filter this list would be an essential feature.
As the library of content grows, an effective means of navigating beyond a long, unruly list was much needed. I experimented with tabs and filters to allow users to efficiently browse by the content type of their choosing.
You can explore a clickable prototype here: