A new platform for publishers to connect with their fans and BitTorrent users via the power and scale of torrent technologybundles.bittorrent.com
In creating a new content platform from scratch, we needed to design something both powerful for artists and compelling for fans. The goal was to provide benefits to each that are exclusive to BitTorrent technology and create a new and rewarding connection between the two of them. Achieving this goal would also help align the BitTorrent brand more closely with its intention, diminishing its unfortunate proximity to piracy.
Success would be measured in engagement of both artists and fans, downloads, revenue generated, BitTorrent user growth, and brand equity.
Our primary targets were small, unknown or up-and-coming artists, their fans, and “users” looking for another means of discovering new artists. These audiences are quite large and have driven the success of multiple competing platforms like YouTube, Kickstarter, Soundcloud, and Spotify.
Existing BitTorrent and µTorrent users were a secondary, but still quite valuable, target due to their size and obvious appetite for content.
- Dependance on the existing BitTorrent clients for downloading content
- Maintain privacy of users’ downloads; this information could not be used for recommendations
- Limited access to established artists due to negative brand association and budget
As Director of UX, I managed the core UX contributors to these projects: an Interaction Designer, a Visual Designer, and a User Researcher.
I provided direction and leadership, contributing in the areas of: design, research, general problem solving, resource management, project management, and cross-org communication.
Because Bundle was to be a media platform at the forefront of BitTorrent’s next big marketing push, I assigned designers that were both most familiar with the market and among our most visually capable.
Design Process Highlights
A New Platform: Appeal to fans
We knew we’d provide a content-rich experience, exclusive content, and a deep catalog in a great looking package.
More importantly, we needed to establish a more intimate connection between fans and artists.
Part of communicating that was being clear about the lack of a middleman, another unnecessary filter.
The content then comes forward, highlighting exclusives, and displaying the depth of the catalog.
Research showed us curation is not just a tool for discovery but also provides a means of personalization and a sense of commitment.
A broad range of collections tailored to user tastes would reaffirm that this is a more personal platform.
Iteration and testing Bundle pages allowed us to explore and build
- artist → fan communication
- fan → artist support
- engaging “unlocks”
- rich playback
We ended up with a highly modular page framework that provided a plethora of options for publishers and potential goodies for fans.
Users would see that there’s a ton of cool, undiscovered stuff here and develop a sense that they’ve made a real connection with an artist when they like and download a torrent.
And any content platform needs to be where the fan is, meaning BitTorrent would expand further into mobile than ever before.
Though not available at launch, we built and tested numerous prototypes of a standalone Bundle app for iOS and Android and worked with the BitTorrent Mobile team to integrate Bundle into the Android version of the client.
A New Platform: Appeal to publishers
What would our target publishers be looking for? Creative freedom and a massive audience coupled with incredibly powerful tools.
BitTorrent is the perfect fit. It's always been about democratizing publishing with advanced technology and now reaches an audience of well over 100 million monthly active users.
We just needed to create a streamlined and intuitive interface for building Bundles to publish to the ecosystem...
And meet or exceed industry expectations for tools that track the performance of each release.
A New Platform: Telling the story
It was important to reinforce throughout that Bundle is about building connections and a sustainable creative environment.
We were most explicit in this messaging in our Sign Up and About messaging but consitently touched on it throughout every transaction as well.
We were able to create a great Bundle experience within the BitTorrent clients, completely independant and with a significantly upgraded design, via a seperate tab in the main navigation.
Hundreds of millions of these clients were active each month and, after Bundle's launch, they suddenly featured a huge library of downloadable content accessible without having to leave the app.
We also experimented with and iterated on featuring Bundle releases in the BitTorrent clients' install experience, providing interesting content to users right off the bat and driving a huge number of downloads for featured publishers.
And an embeddable version of the Bundle experience meant artists could seamlessly integrate bundles into their existing online presence.
However, because Bundle was confined to a single tab of the clients' navigation, to many users it never felt like a core component of the product and it therefore struggled to draw return visits for some.
Bundle has seen great success with thousands of publishers, millions of downloads, and significant brand equity improvement.
While user growth and revenue initially left room for improvement, we knew we were constrained in these areas by the first-time user experience of the BitTorrent clients and lack of a mobile experience initially. Work was to continue in these areas.