A promotional app designed to support the launch of Channel 4's new catch up channel.
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In 2012 Channel 4 announced they were going to experiment with a bold new TV channel, 4seven, aimed at reinventing catch up television and designed to allow viewers to recap on the most popular and talked about shows from the last 7 days. The channel profiles the shows most featured on social media, blogs and online forums.
Screenmedia were commissioned shortly after the new channel was announced to plan, design and build the promotional app, targeted at regular viewers of Channel 4 who had not yet embraced online catch up services. The app had to engage audiences with the new channel, showcase its core content on a weekly basis and drive viewers to the TV schedule.
In UX terms, the app had to be easy to use and simple to navigate, with clear signposting to user calls to action (CTAs). The app was to be heavily clip orientated, which presented challenges in its navigation, orientation, and CTA positioning. To engage users with teaser clips and overcome this challenge, a landscape-oriented navigation was created; the screen orientation most user friendly for users to engage in multiple concurrent video experiences. In its design and UX, the app needed to be engaging, intuitive and distinctly Channel 4 in its branding, with a “delicious” UI that supported the brand’s existing digital portfolio. The resulting strategy was to utilize the broad Channel 4 look and feel, while incorporating a distinct 4seven brand in the app’s colour scheme and UI assets (e.g. buttons, iconography).
We commenced the project by first confirming the UX strategy, completing a detailed information architecture and screen wireframes to consider the content and layout requirements, the navigation principles, and the functional components. Once signed off we moved quickly onto UI design. We created a beautifully attractive and quality interface, and proved our innovative approach to navigation through a high fidelity clickable prototype and program of user testing.
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Transition Stage 1
Transition Stage 2
Transition Stage 3
The app was to be delivered to iPhone and iPad and contain a showcase of the shows scheduled on the new channel; allowing users to watch clips, view associated content, reference the channel’s schedule for the next 7 days, and set calendar reminders for broadcast times (integrating with the native IOS calendar function.) This functionality needed to be robust and widely available on 3G and wifi, given the main user context was perceived to be out and about, on public transport and perhaps travelling to and from work, or in front of the television set.
For an open-source CMS solution Umbraco is amazingly powerful and versatile. What doesn’t come out of the box is feasible through limitless development in .Net plus easy integration via APIs to other systems. On this project we worked closely with Channel 4’s development partners at 4OD (4 on Demand) and Brightcove to create a very clever system that enabled Channel 4 editors to update the app content, using Umbraco) whilst the video content was served via an API to 4OD and the scheduling information was pulled from Brightcove.
The resulting app is highly innovative in its navigation design, and beautifully designed to support the 4seven brand. It includes pixel perfect GUI design, as well as brand messaging via entry animation sequences. The app was downloaded over 30,000 times in the first week alone and has consistently received 4 and 5 star ratings in the app store. The resulting CMS system is highly robust, user friendly, and magnificently simple to update; despite managing a barrage of daily content information and integrating with more than three of Channel 4's internal content systems.
For Channel 4 the app platform was fully tested in its capability as, not only did the CMS have to the push content to the app, but also had to aggregate appropriate API content from two sources (Brightcove and 4OD) and cache scheduling information behind the scenes, helping to make the publishing process as straight forward and intuitive as possible.
Whilst fundamentally designed for viewing pleasure on an iPad, the app had to deliver a great user experience on smartphone too. iPhone/iPad apps are a great design challenge, something we relish as shown by the excellent results in this super intuitive, easy to navigate app.