Summary

Stre.am is a way to broadcast and watch live video from events around the world by way of mobile and web platforms. It was an interesting product to work on as it was unique to the field at the time, predating even Periscope and Meerkat.  The client needed to give younger audiences a simple platform to use while balancing a growing number of features.  We were able to take a large set of requirements and simplify them into a sharp, cohesive experience.  To date, Stre.am remains one of the most successful startup stories in Charleston, South Carolina’s growing tech scene.

The Challenge

Stre.am underwent four major pivots over the course of six months, as investors pushed for a viable product.  By the time it arrived on my desk, the brand had shifted four times, requirements changed, and the market competition became fierce.  During this time, Stre.am’s biggest competitors began gaining momentum included Meerkat, Periscope, and Facebook Live.  We needed to streamline this application while giving it a new, fresh life it’s own.

Stre.am needed a fresh take on an amazing idea in an evolving market.

Wireframes

This was a unique scenario as the product had already undergone numerous design iterations and brand pivots before reaching my team. I decided to refine the app design by keeping everything that the product owners loved (not just “liked”) and revisiting the other features.

We needed to rethink many of the features from scratch, and that meant back to the drawing whiteboard.

I really wanted fresh eyes on this project, so I recruited a fellow designer that had limited exposure to this particular application yet was intimately familiar with the particulars.  We began walking through what we saw as a typical user experience.

Stre.am, much like Instagram, essentially has two experiences: creating content and consuming content.   One of the most discussed aspects concerned “home screen”; what experience the user should have upon first logging in.  Should they see the “feed” first or are they more likely to initially use the recording feature upon opening the app?

I took this opportunity to revisit a similar project from earlier in my career, and the lessons it taught me.

One of the lessons learned was that seeing an active video community is a powerful influence on their likelihood to create content themselves.  We came to the conclusion that a user should immediately feel like part of the Stre.am community while maintaining an obvious path to create content.

I felt that our final wireframes were successful as they reflected this idea perfectly.  Upon logging in there is a feed with a focus on the content and user, all while directing your eye to the record button below.

Testing

One of the most potent lessons I learned from previous projects was the value of A/B testing.  Although large-scale testing is great and a bit more focused, simply asking your peers in different departments to give you honest feedback goes a long way.  It not only helps to forge the design direction but gives you unique insight and depth to your design choices.  This especially comes in handy if and when you meet resistance down the road. This leads to a painfully simple yet often overlooked concept:

Don’t be reactive. You can only make well-informed decisions if you yourself are well-informed. 

Once the wireframes were complete, we put together a clickable prototype using Invision which was then passed around the office for simple testing.  We made sure to test the app with tech people and non-tech people alike; software engineers, HR, receptionists, maintenance, business development, you name it.  This gave us great insight into what the user wanted and solidified our assumption that people want to experience content before creating content of their own.

Brand

Now that both the client, designers, and (more importantly) potential users were happy with the direction of the app, it was time to have some fun with the brand.  While we were developing the layout, a peer of mine named Jono Young had been working closely with our clients on the brand itself.  He developed a very strong logo mark that was designed and built by layering multiple “play” arrows over top of each other

Live streams needed to stand out in the feed as being active.

One of the core features of Stre.am is the ability to watch videos that are currently streaming.  This provided a challenge for the feed view as we needed a method of differentiating between a completed video stream and live stream.  Although watching the video itself would make this state obvious, we needed to indicate to the user that something was actively happening. The solution to this was to incorporate the new logo as an animation, reinforcing the brand while giving users a sense of activity happening in real-time.

Mockups

Another core feature of Stre.am is recording. I knew I wanted subtle animations to play a part in cultivating an intuitive user experience, but Stre.am also needed to offer something significantly different. There were already a plethora of basic video recording applications in the market and the idea of reinventing the recording process for the sake of being different would have been a bit counter-productive.

Needing a control, I asked myself, “What does an average recording experience feel like?” The answer was filled will blinking red buttons and text that simply read “recording”.  And while those elements certainly did the job of informing the user, our product possessed an extra quality that needed to be conveyed without reinventing the wheel. I needed to express the concept that your recording is doing something much different then those other apps.  It’s streaming live to the world.

Reimagining a staple such as the recording button was not only fun but necessary in an evolving market.

Results

Since it’s conception, Stre.am has continued to evolve into something unique with thousands of downloads and users daily. Recently, they began venturing into video game streaming and have even been tapped by NASA to be the official streamers of the full-moon eclipse happening over the United States in August 2017.

Helping Stre.am evolve from a simple concept to a tangible product was a great experience, and needless to say I am very happy with the final results. Here are a few extra screens from the final product: