The BuzzFeed Video App

Creating and launching a video watching app for Android and iOS.

  • User Experience
  • Prototyping
  • User Testing
  • Visual Design
Shows list view on Android

Background

At the time of this project, BuzzFeed published most of its videos on third-party platforms. Only a few videos appeared on the website and none in the apps. Fans had to platform hop to catch up on their favorite BuzzFeed shows.

Hypothesis

A single platform for watching and sharing all of BuzzFeed's video content will be attractive to superfans.

Prospective business case

  • Monetize the platform via advertising
  • Establish a direct relationship with video audience
  • Create a controlled environment for testing new formats

Defining the product

We wanted the app to feel as simple and immersive as turning on a TV—open the app and you're watching video right away. Our mission statement was to make BuzzFeed video easy to binge-watch and fun to share.

Refining the app architecture and flow

In early explorations, the feed was comprised of video cards that a user would tap on to launch a video player. However, this interaction model felt too cumbersome. So, I explored integrating the player into the feed and having videos play when they scrolled into view.

Version 1 Initial structure of the app with path to play highlighted.
Version 2 The user profile was the first thing we scoped out.
Version 3 We decided on the shows list as the MVP discovery feature since we wouldn't be able to ship a quality search experience for launch.
Version 4 The final app structure.

Visual Design

Our initial color palette followed that of the BuzzFeed app at the time…

Final color scheme and components

Once we conflated the feed and video player a darker palette felt more appropriate for the immersive watching experience we were going for. The new palette and rationale behind it was presented to the design team for critique.

Styleguide for iOS and Android
BuzzFeed Video logotype designed by Chris Rushing.

Iterating and Testing

Given the simplicity of the app, every UX choice was critical. We left nothing to chance. Each decision was validated with prototyping and or user testing.

Developing the Video Player UI

Getting the player right was our biggest challenge. It had to support three aspect ratios: 16:9, 1:1, and 9:16, and it had to do so in portrait and landscape orientation.

We prototyped and user tested a number of options, e.g. keeping the player controls in a fixed position regardless of the video aspect ratio. We ultimately settled on controls that were attached to the video.

Controlling sound

We all agreed that sound should be muted when the app is opened. However, there were competing ideas on how sound should be turned on…

Option 1 Turn on sound with hardware volume buttons (popularized by Instagram and Snapchat at the time).

Option 2 A sound toggle in the player UI

We user tested both options and ultimately settled on option 2.


Launch

The app was released to a warm reception from BuzzFeed video fans. The initial reviews validated our hypothesis.

User Feedback

Love!!!

I love buzzfeed and I’m so glad that all my favorite videos are now easily accessible!

—Allllllie

FINALLY

I can watch all the shows videos in one place easily BLEESSs!

—Jailymmmmmm

Fantastic

Best idea ever. Now I don’t have to go onto YouTube and look. It’s all right in front of me.

—Newbz

Perfectttt

Been waiting for this forever! All buzzfeed videos in one place. A dream come true!

—DanutalsEmily

Amazing

I just love Buzzfeed. This makes it easier to manage and navigate the vieos you love.

—Gabbbbbbaaay


Epilogue

The BuzzFeed Video app was sunset in 2017. The lessons we learnt as well as some of user experience laid the foundation for introducing video in BuzzFeed's other apps.