Redesign to become digital first

The Task: To create a new digital experience for TVO Today on both the web and two custom built, iOS and Android apps

The Client: TVO

My Role: UX Designer and Researcher

Skills involved: user research, usability testing, affinity diagram, customer journey mapping, interaction design, prototyping, wireframing

Tools: Figma, Adobe Suite (XD), Miro

Timeline:  1 year for major release - ongoing iterations & improvements

My role?  Improving design and research in media by challenging misconceptions.

I helped initiate major changes to TVO's digital platforms, built User Research initiatives, designed and tested prototypes, championed important design features, and advocated for changing design processes within the team and the organization as a whole.

The Overall Need? Modernize to reach younger, more diverse audiences. 

Since 2017, we needed to improve our digital offerings to attract young, informed millennials, and COVID-19 made it even more urgent. We also were aiming to engage marginalized groups and share more stories from an Ontario perspective to achieve success.

At the start of COVID-19 Pandemic we saw a +5% increase in our Millennial users.

Understanding our desired target user

It was apparent that our 25-44 year old users would be the primary focus of the redesign and we wanted to capture more data to understand how users consume information and especially understand:

  • How users consume current affairs content
  • How users watch documentaries and series
  • What sentiment do they have to the TVO brand

Understanding Our Demographics

To better understand our users, we interviewed 5 of them with these criteria:

  • Avid or occasional current affairs consumers
  • Within the target demographic of Gen-Z and Millennials
  • Some or little familiarity with the TVO brand

Digging into the data

We focused on four themes that emerged after we synthesized the data

Key Focus Areas

To keep in mind our users' needs and guide our design process, we developed a few key questions. These areas of focus include:

  • Delivering a responsive web experience
  • Providing an iOS and Android app
  • Addressing limited bandwidth connections, such as rural users
  • Making TVO accessible online

These statements guided our design process:

TVO Today: One App for Current Affairs, Docs and Series

To redesign our app, we partnered with the current affairs and documentary division. We faced some constraints as a resource-constrained organization such as:

  • Delivering articles, documentary videos, and series on one app
  • Developing for both Android and iOS simultaneously
  • Allowing video downloads for up to 30 days

These requirements made the app development complex. My job was to ensure that the app's information architecture satisfied the needs of two main users:

Balancing Information Architecture

Creating an all-in-one app for TVO Today has its pros and cons. I expressed my concerns and asked for clarity. While it allows for easy access to all content in one place, it could also skew too far in one direction. The app could be:

  • too video/streaming focused
  • too article-driven or lack personalization

Explore screen 

We designed the landing page to be a personalized jumping off point, rather than just a home screen. Although the app only features content curated by TVO Today, we built it to be ready for the future implementation of curated topics and categories based on user activity.

We added small features such as:

  • a welcome greeting,
  • a full selection of TVO Today content (articles, docs & series, and podcasts),
  • a dashboard-like design to encourage users to use our app as a jumping off point for all of our content.

Streaming focused video player 

Working with our 3rd party video developer, we were able to unlock the full spectrum of Brightcove Player SDK that we use to power our video content. Since we had the ability to customize our player to our specs, we optimized our design to cater to current affairs viewers and docs & series viewers by:

  • Adopting in-page video playback for all pages
  • Enabling picture-in-picture, described video, closed captioning & playback speed
  • Enabling native Apple Airplay and Chromecast functionality

Ability to download videos

We added the ability to download docs and series so that TVO users can access our content at their convenience, even without an internet connection.

User flows for Downloads

To ensure our app functions optimally, we mapped out the logic required to download content for users. This is done while adhering to our organization's mandate and distribution contracts. The following are included in this process:

  • Properly tagging and organizing authorized content for API calls
  • Limiting downloads to 30 days with an option to renew
  • Planning for offline access to content
  • Highlighting our value proposition while maintaining a seamless offline experience.
Green and Red Path for Downloads
These flows helped to show the logic required for creating a successful download experience
Online and Offline Modes
We also had to outline how the app would function in the many scenarios a user would be offline and online such as Airplane Mode and a Loss of Connection

Offline Mode Screen

When users are offline or on offline mode, a friendly screen introducing Polkaroo and a button to access offline downloads greets users

Expiring Videos

Due to differing streaming rights privileges, we had to ensure that people didn't have access content beyond a 30 day period, therefore, after a video is expired they must renew the content if it is available. 

Manage Videos

Series episodes are thoughtfully managed in a responsive sheet making navigating from a series to episode simple and straightforward

The Results? A highly rated app in both Google Play and Apple App Stores  🎉 

Our app consistently receives 5-star ratings from users, thanks to its thoughtful development. To keep up with our diverse community and uncover new experiences, we will continue to test and enhance the app.

Future enhancements

We plan to track each section's performance using Google Analytics to retain and attract our audience. Our priority is to enhance the section's performance by reducing page times and showing titles more frequently. We also want to improve accessibility features, such as transcripts and closed captioning, to create a more unified experience.

Other potential improvements include building an iPad app, adding a sign-in feature, introducing live streaming, and offering voice-generated articles and downloads.


Eric Hanson - UX Research, UX Design

Van Shaw - UI Design

Read More Below:

Part 2, Web Redesign

TVO Redesign - Web
A continuation of this massive overhaul that focused on improving the web facing experience
Using Format