Fox Say is a WeChat applet project I worked on during my time at Sohu as a product design intern in 2018. I worked closely with two product managers and seven developers. Our product got the first place in the internal competition.
Logo designed by Yuchen
DURATION 4 months
ROLE Product designer
SKILLS Interaction design Graphic design User research
FOXSAY is a Text-to-speech-based news app that allows people to listen to the latest news and to learn about useful information when commuting to work. The types of news are shaped by each user’s using habit.
01 The Problem Space
Based on the report, in Bejing and Shanghai, the average windshield time has increased to almost 2 hours a day for most of commuters. Many people usually either aimlessly swipe on their phones or just chill out idling their time away. How to help people to better utilize the valuable two hours on the road to learn more about the outside world or to acquire more knowledge?
Our idea is to provide our users with the short pieces of news and information in the audio form with the contents shaped by recommendation algorithm. People can also choose the content they would like to listen to. And the interaction design allows people to easily shift from one piece of news to another. Thus, when commuters can use our product to make a good use of the windshield time everyday.
03 Our Approach
Brainstorm & Ideation
I lead all the user research and design activities with our product managers and developers. I delivered wireframes, high fidelity designs and interactive
prototypes. I also did usability testing to collect the feedbacks to iterate.
Besides, I advocated for brainstorming sessions to narrow down our ideas and arrive at our design solutions.
As a UX designer intern, I also actively advocated for UX and explained to the team members why user-centered design was important.
04 Competitive Analysis
We investigated the existing competitors to learn about their strengths and drawbacks and considered ways to help the users to acquire news or knowledge.
People aged over 35 preferred the traditional news apps like Toutiao, Pengpai or Sohu news. Audio news or learning apps like Ted or Himalaya, however, attracted much younger people.
People usually used their fragmented time to acquire knowledge or learn about the outside world through those apps.
Many apps of this kind involve a great variety of contents, and users could sometimes feel overwhelmed.
Personalized recommendation was an obvious trend.
We should mainly focus on the people who aged below 40, and use surveys to verify our ideas and pinpoint the target groups.
We could use interviews to dive deeper into their intentions and habits.
We want to learn more about their challenges of using those apps and the use scenarios.
05 Surveys & Interviews
We had two user research goals. The first one was to learn more about the content that commuters interested in and the second one was related to how the product should look like.
Firstly, we conducted surveys on 89 people. We firstly used some questions to filter out the people who did not commute. Then we asked them about commuters' habits and behaviors during the windshield time and how they get to their work places. We also wanted learn about their attitudes towards news and their learning habits, etc.
I conducted semi-structure interviews with twelve people. We wanted to dive deeper into their challenges, their preferences and their habits.
To tackle with the time constraints of this project, we found commuters around ourselves, our friends and our colleagues. We conducted informal interviews with them during dinner, and we still got many useful inspirations.
I learned that flexibility was a very important quality for a good designer.
Interviews & Surveys findings
About the contents, different people had different preferences. Technology, sports and finance were the most common choices.
People liked to acquire the knowledge related to their own work. People would liked to learn more about the new trends in their fields.
Besides news, people also would like to acquire some useful information and knowledge. For example, how to cope with the relationship with the colleagues or which book was worth reading for this month.
Commuters usually took the public transportation, so the environment was crowded.
Commuters could not stay focus for a long time.
We could use personal recommendation algorithm to provide useful contents for our users.
We should pay attention to the quality of the content.
Each piece of content should be short and concise.
The interactions should allow the users to easily use our product in the crowded places.
06 Design Alternatives
I led the brainstorming session and sketched out the possible design solutions, We also had the developers participating in our ideation session to narrow down our ideas with feasibility taken into consideration.
Based on the feedbacks from the developer and our users, we finally settled on the horizontal flip card.
The feedbacks from users indicated that some of the users did not know that they can click the excerpt of the article to check the whole article. Because that area in the previous version didn't seem to be clickable.
Then we added a triangle icon to tackle with this problem, and it turned out to be successful.
Here is our interfaces.
Innovation by understanding users
Understanding users and developing empathy leads to innovation. In order to clarify the design goal and get inspirations, we really reached out to our users by observation and interviews. After knowing what users really wanted, we get rid of the normal way of interaction and created a new form.
Communication is the key
Communication matters in designer’s work. In this project, I learnt to effectively and efficiently communicate with cross-functional roles such as front-end engineers and pm.