Curiosity has gained users just by publishing content and having people share it. 80% of their users come through Facebook; it's the main access point for their service. This is a "side door" access point, and Curiosity is aiming to have more direct "front door" access to their site/app. This sort of model is called the Hook model; it relies on triggering a user, making them perform an action, receiving a reward and then choosing to invest in the service that they just received.
Curiosity's users are classified as casual users, subscribers, and loyalists; The challenge is getting people to value the reward Curiosity has to offer and then transition them from a casual user to a subscriber, and then to a loyalist (making repeat visits over a long period of time). This is where we realized that it's not about making updates to the features of the site/app, but about the learning behavior of people and how to capitalize on it.
The creative brief from Curiosity stated that they wanted to "research and then design proposed solutions that increase user's enjoyment, learning, and therefore repeat visitation." So from here we decided to figure out what was bringing people to Curiosity in the first place; in order to do that we needed to know how people like to learn. This lead us to do a survey about learning, talk to users about things that interest them, and have several people keep a journal for two days logging in things that caught their interest and why.
Survey, Interviews & Journals
We learned that people (as we all knew) learn differently. Some users prefer to read over watching videos, and vice versa. Another important take away was hearing that users like to dig around and explore when they find something new. They like that they keep finding new information so that they can share it later.
We asked, "What is Curiosity to you?"
" Interesting and Intriguing."
" Quest for understanding."
" The quest for knowledge."
" Having wonder."
From User Testing
We had a number of people play with the current platforms of Curiosity.com and the app. We wanted to see what were the pros and cons of the app to further connect patterns in finding what keeps people interested and where we lose their attention and interest is lost. From this we learned:
1. The inconsistencies of navigation & display of information across all platforms is confusing.
2. With the app specifically, the navigation of daily news lead to many dead ends because the user didn't know which way to swipe or where to click. 60% of them forgot the onboarding screens a few minutes after actually diving into the app.
3. The content is highly interesting, but not engaging enough.
Competition helps find gaps
We compared the content of Curiosity to other similar sources such as Vice, Buzzfeed, New York Times, and StubleUpon.com. We first wanted to see where Curiosity lied on how interesting their content was vs. how engaging the content was (left image), and then we compared how valuable the information is to the user and how many repeat visit the service gets (right image).
The sites that were more engaging with interesting content had triggers throughout to constantly engage the user and have them explore the site. These platforms also had different platforms that catered to different types of learning, ex: linking to YouTube for strictly video watching.
The more valuable the information correlates to the amount of repeat visits? This is what we thought. But what we learned is that the information had to be valuable to the user, but the user also had to be able to retain the information in order for them to want to return to the site.
The Design Direction
Based off of all our research, our solution was to provide Curiosity with a foolproof, cyclical system to quickly engage the user, hook them into exploring beyond the daily digests by placing multiple triggers in the design, and to increase user retention by constantly peaking their interest over a long period of time.
Based off of our research and the people we interviewed, we created three personas that fall into each user category: Casual, Subscriber, Loyalist.
We had to make sure our redesign was structured to meet the needs of each of these personas. Targeting the casual user (Shasta) and hooking them into "liking" and "subscribing" to Curiosity is our first step. From there we can take subscribers (Irene) and turn them into more loyalist users like Cranston. To do this we did a few things:
1. Developed a cyclical system between Curiosity and its main social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, to reach the target audience from multiple angles and cater to different learning behaviors.
2. Updated the interface of the mobile site to have more of a hierarchical structure by implementing triggers to continuously peak interest and guide users on their quest through Curiosity. We also decided that the mobile site would be reflected in the native application.
View the Prototype