Feed Refresh

Overview:

The analytics team walked us through our new user registrations compared to monthly active users. We were seeing a good rate of entry, but users just weren’t sticking around. We needed to improve the overall value our network provided and refine key areas within our app. The first of these areas were our feeds. We need it to be ridiculously simple for our users to discover, read, and engage with content they find interesting.

Friction:

Our current feed was lacking both simplicity and readability. This was making our most common daily task, consuming content, particularly confusing. By removing these distractions, it will be easier to find interesting posts and encourage the user to feel that “this is the social network for me.”

I broke down our friction points into four main themes:

  1. Lack of Boundaries

    Post boundaries are not well defined, and it is unclear where one post ends and the other begins.

  2. Poor Readability

    The elements within a post are not designed in a way that promotes readability. Content feels scattered and unorganized which adds to the overall confusion.

  3. Unnecessary Variation

    The variation between a text post and a caption adds an unnecessary element of confusion. The user is simply sharing a thought, but that thought is being displayed drastically different depending on whether media is attached.

  4. Unclear Element Relationships

    The relationship between elements is unclear due to poor hierarchy and placement. It’s hard for the user to understand the story when the information is improperly ordered.

Competitive Analysis:

Feeds are at the core of all social networks. They provide users with a fresh stream of content to consume. However, not all feeds in a social app provide the same form of expression. As I reviewed competitor apps, I noticed three variations:

Broadcast Apps

The user is broadcasting their emotions to everyone in their friends list. A discussion usually follows, but it’s often not the initial intention. Our feed currently fits into this category.

Community Apps

Here discussion is the priority. A post is seen as a discussion starter, but the real value emerges in the discussion. After finding a post that resonates, the user will dive into the comments to continue the conversation. This is the bucket we would like our feed to lean towards.

News Apps

All posts center around a primary or secondary topic (sports or single sport) created by an official voice. Users scan to find a story they want to read more about.

Solution:

While the feed is a key feature of our platform, it’s not the only element. With this in mind, we decided to closely follow our style guide with regards to colors, icons, and typography. The new feed would be merely a restructure. As we moved forward with design, our focus was on three key areas:

Clarity
  • Define a post’s start and end points
  • Make each post start in a similar layout regardless of post type
Relationships
  • Elements that go together should be together
  • Each post is a story and should read like one
Simplicity
  • Remove all unnecessary elements and variations
  • Use color, contrast, and text size to prioritize elements

The result is a clean and organized feed that allows the users to quickly scan through it. When a piece of content catches their eye, it reads clearly and encourages interaction.