Case Study

Stitcher iPhone App1

We did a redesign of Stitcher's iPhone UI through iterative usability testing and a diary study.


Stitcher, Inc., came to us with a unique challenge: improve the overall first-time user experience of the Stitcher iPhone application without alienating their existing user base. As a small startup ready for its second round of funding, Stitcher wasn't a stranger to numbers and analytics data. But the team was having trouble understanding what made someone switch from casual to habitual user, and why new user churn numbers seemed a little high.

User churn is when someone misses the "A-HA! moment" that takes them from casual to habitual use. This moment is key.


Given that there were 2 user types to deal with, we decided to take a multi-pronged approach: RITE (rapid iterative testing and evaluation) usability testing on the existing iPhone application with both entirely new users and a handful of power users. This would highlight usability trends across the two groups to be tackled in the next sprint, while the iterative nature of the testing - 1 test a week over a month - would allow for design advances in between sessions.

Secondly, we enlisted half a dozen new users in a diary study activity over the course of a month, with the intention of shedding light on why new users might or might not come to use Stitcher more consistently over time.


Catering to the needs of two distinct user groups can be tough, but over the 4 weeks of testing and the diary study, a number of problem areas came to the fore that applied to both groups. These aren't unique to Stitcher, and can provide focus when designing for multiple user types:

Content discovery: Content needs to be easy to find, both for the casual user who just wants to browse, and for the user who knows exactly what she wants. Using content categories and intuitive search results is a great way to do this.

Multi-tasking and the listening experience: It's safe to assume that users will never do just one thing on a mobile device, So making sure that your app supports multi-tasking behavior - closing the app, starting it up again, pausing playback when a call comes in - is crucial.

Transit challenges: Mobile devices are meant to be used on the go, and this brings up a range of situations that need to be catered to: using the app while driving, planning for bus and train routes that go underground (and out of service range), or even listening to content while 30,000 feet up. Making sure your app is flexible enough to cover these and similar scenarios might mean the difference between a long time fan and a churned ex-user.

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