Designing a full, personalised BBC Sounds experience for Sonos users.
Due to confidentiality this document details only the context of the project and provides a high level description of the main actions taken.
All information in this section is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of the BBC.
We want BBC Sounds to be available wherever and whenever people want to listen, and this is another way to make sure people can enjoy our audio however they choose.
Jonathan Wall, Controller, BBC Sounds - Press Release
One of the main goals of BBC Sounds is to make BBC contents available everywhere, over many different platforms. That's what is called the ‘Sounds Everywhere’ strategy.
In 2021 BBC Sounds already had an average weekly audience of over 3.6 million across mobile, TV, website and voice-activated devices.
In December 2021 the BBC launced the BBC Sounds service for the Sonos app to reproduce as close as possible the full Sounds experience on any Sonos device.
Making BBC Sounds available to the nearly 1.4 million UK households who have Sonos speakers can allow people to listen to BBC audio content and benefit from a consistent product experience across platforms.
This can benefit both users (content, curation, metadata, functionality) and the BBC (signed-in reach, data and brand presence).
Being available on the Sonos platform is therefore yet another way to get live and on-demand radio from the BBC’s national and local stations, music mixes curated by experts, artists and special guests, and a wide range of award-winning podcasts.
Before the launch of the project, Sonos users could access BBC audio content only via 3rd parties apps.
We were missing a potentially large audience already consuming our content but not via a signed-in BBC Sounds experience and we had no control over branding, attribution, data and onwards journeys.
We were clearly missing the opportunity to give our users a better experience on Sonos devices.
If we made BBC Sounds available on Sonos speakers, users would sign in to the BBC and enjoy BBC audio content directly via BBC Sounds, getting the best experience possible.
Over 15 years of experience in the field made me a so called T-Shaped product designer .I was therefore glad to have the opportunity to make good use of all my skills for this project.
I represented the BBC UX&Ddepartment during the entire develompent of the BBC Sounds service for Sonos, leading all the UX related activities.
I represented the BBC UX&D department during the entire develompent of the BBC Sounds service for Sonos, leading all the UX related activities.
I mapped the BBC Sounds Information Architecture to the Sonos architecture and templates. I mocked up screens, optimised user flows, managed the branding assets and provided continuous UX support to the dev and the product teams.
The service was launched in the UK in early December 2021.
Huge shout out to Simone Ferraro who had the complex task of mapping the Sounds IA to the Sonos architecture and templates. Balancing creativity and pragmatism was key to this project and Simone nailed it.
Helen Olney, Creative Director, BBC Sounds - Internal Comm.
This project came with several challanges I was more than happy to take on.
The service was built using existing BBC Sounds APIs.
When it came to re-mapping the IA, the most relevant constraint I had to face was related to the way the Sonos system gathered the information we were passing on through our APIs.
The main structure of BBC Sounds made of four main places (Home, Music, Podcasts and My stuff) wasn’t replicable as is in the Sonos app. I couldn't rely on a top level navigation menu for our service.
I couldn't rely on a top level navigation menu for our service on Sonos.
Furthermore It was not possible to recreate the moderately deep hierarchical structure BBC Sounds was using in the native app and website.
This constraints didn’t allow me to display on the Sonos app all the information the way I needed and it was impossible to replicate the same experience we were providing with our native apps mantaining the same IA.
I had therefore to find a way to accommodate this issue allowing a seamless browsing through our Music, Podcasts and Categories, not to mention searching for BBC catalogue in the Sonos search bar.
In order to solve this problem the approach was to rethink the information architecture of BBC Sounds creating a flattened version of the same structure.Moving from a moderately deep hierarchy to a flatter one allowed me to grant an easy access to all the content.
Moving from a moderately deep hierarchy to a flatter one allowed me to grant an easy access to all the content.
Once the new IA was in place it was possible to give access to the main places using the section title of the horizontal carousels in the homepage as access points and emulate a top level navigation.
Having flattened all the structure the user could then browse all the contents going as deep as needed down the tree.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for further details about the process.
In order to provide a visually detailed rendering of the information architecture in action I designed high fidelity mockups based on the look and feel of the Sonos app and I linked them producing high fidelity wireflows.
The deliverables were then constantly shared with the development and the product team as a reference during all the phases of the development.
BBC is a world recognised brand. A part of the project was to keep all the branding assets in the BBC service for Sonos aligned with the requirements, starting from the logos.
Dealing with branding was a challenging task in that, other than following the BBC brand guidelines, the service being an hybrid between an in product and off product experience at the same time made things even trickier.
Branding assets must be treated differently according to the context they are displayed in, and in this case a good amount of thinking involving the product team, UX&D and the developers on how to deal with the assets was required.
My duties included:
BBC Sounds is a signed-in experience.
A logged in user can allow BBC Sounds to serve personalised content, leading to a fully customised service.
Constantly surfacing relevant content for the user it's one of the crucial aspects of the experience itself.
Working in close contact with the BBC Account team, I followed the different stages of implementing the sign in flow, from a first iteration allowing a browser based sign-in to a full app to app account linking flow.
The service was launched in the UK in early December 2021.
The brand presence for BBC Sounds increased and users got an improved and coherent experience on Sonos.
Allowing a signed in experience on a 3rd party platform allowed the BBC to get important insights and analytics that would otherwise have been missed.
Tracking the user during his Sonos joiurney provided not only benefits from a business point of view but determined an overall improvement of the user experience thanks to better reccomendation and an increased level of personalisation.
The positive impact was measured in :
This has been a brilliant multi-team effort from all the teams involved. We’re all really excited to see the service live and really pleased to be bringing an excellent Sounds experience to new and existing BBC audiences on the Sonos platform.
Kieran Clifton, Director Distribution & Business Development, BBC