Amazon Fire TV Recast
Set up an antenna to watch and record over the air live TV anywhere you like. (check it out on Amazon)
Working as the lead interaction designer on this product, I was responsible for 3 main experiences:
-Device onboarding on mobile app.
-Discovery and management of live TV content on mobile app.
-Discovery and management of live TV content on Fire TV.
This is an excellent project to go deep into balancing customer obsession and earning trust with your partners. Fire TV Recast had an unusually long development cycle and that allowed me to gain much deeper insights into my customers (in home usability studies!) and how to get things shipped while maintaining a design bar. The experience is also multi-modal; it exists in various forms on TV, mobile and voice assistants (Echo and Echo show)
For that, I am going to focus on the Device onboarding section for my stories and wrap up the rest with a few words at the end. It’s a bit of a read, so here is a quick menu.
Hypothesis and Validation – Customer Obsession
As a service that provides customer with entertainment, one CX tenet for onboarding with Fire TV products is rather simple: speed. “Can we not do that in OOBE?” is the question I keep asking when the answer is yes, repeatedly. (someone will eventually cave in) Before I start drawing, the whole team settled on 2 main CX challenges: Antenna Placement and Device Provisioning (connecting a headless device to internet). I’ll focus on Antenna Placement in this example.
Where do I stick my antenna? Being a network DVR, Fire TV Recast frees antenna from the living room and allows it to be place anywhere in the house with adequate Wi-Fi coverage. There are couple of variables to consider:
Speed. Can most people understand and complete this step quickly?
Selection. How do we provide enough information to help people make a decision?
Environmental context. Are people able to connect information on the screen with actions in the real world? (actually mount the antenna)
Early on in the process, I prioritized towards Environmental Context since early study showed that people tend to stick to on screen interactions and forget to mount the antenna. Using a VR style overlay, channel information can be displayed on screen as you turn, while showing you where the antenna should go. Although most customer responded positively to this design, it was quickly shot down by developers due to unreliable direction data: it’s just too inaccurate for our purposes. I then moved onto version 2. Antenna towers are plotted onto a map and your home is in the center. This design tested very poorly in studies as people either take a long time to understand the map or simply give up. Going to version 3. By using cardinal and ordinal directions, we removed the requirement to read a map. However, customer still voiced frustrations as they can’t seem to find one direction that gives them all the channels they want, therefore adding the amount of time spent in onboarding.
The design decisions was also informed by on-going engineering priority shifts. Being a piece of a much larger puzzle, resources were constantly being moved around and I have to strike the correct balance while pushing my dev partners for changes.
The final version we landed on was simple. I scarified Selection by having the app recommend the direction with most amount of channels. (Most U.S. metropolitan area has only one major broadcast tower) In return, customer can speed through the process with minimal confusion on what to do next. (Length is a key Fire TV design tenet for onboarding) I built a iOS prototype with end to end onboard flows and tested the entire out of box experience in customer’s home around the larger Seattle area. Most people were able to quickly identify cardinal and ordinal directions to their home and having no issue putting down the phone and mount the antenna.
Working as a team – Earn Trust
Working in a large design team means I get to rely on other to help myself scale. As the lead designer, it is also my job to make sure my design collaborators (visuals designer, researcher, UX writer and production designers) are in sync with me and other partner who are more closely involved with the project. On the other side, communicating design to non designers requires a different set of tools and methods. As the project becoming more complex, I was also actively improving how I communicate design to everyone involved. I realized later in the project that although I was mainly designing for customers who would be purchasing the product, I also had to design for people I work with, starting with my documentation.
My final iteration is a single page JPEG of the entire onboarding flow in mid fidelity. This is published to and maintained on an internal wiki that can be accessed by everyone involved with the project. Partners are made aware of the fact that visual design is not final but copy is. My sketch file is built in this format so there is no need for me to create new layout to make updates. Everything is structured for me to make updates quickly.
This method of working worked very well with the Fire TV Recast mobile team and I was able to extend the same method to other partner teams on other projects.
Fire TV Recast hit the street in November, 2018. The product is currently 4 stars on Amazon.
See a brand new product through end to end was an eye opening experience. Talking about only the onboarding experience means I am leaving out at least 70% of the work. We didn’t up end shipping everything we envisioned in the beginning but we were able to preserve and polish the core customer experience: watch and record over the air live TV anywhere you like. The discovery experience on both TV and app follows a key Fire TV content discovery tenant: cinematic and effortless. In the end, customer just want to watch some TV and relax.