I was listening to the BoagWorld podcast, where his team at Headscape (his design & development company) is in the process of redesigning the Buffer iOS app.
They identified a core issue with the current version of Buffer where the design of the App was trying to do too many things, this made the service feel like a Twitter client, which it’s not. The Headscape team realized that the app needed to focus on Managing your Buffer and only managing your Buffer. It’s much more effective to focus on the single feature instead of “delivering a bunch of mediocre features”.
This got me to thinking about an App I’ve been using almost daily for the past few months… My local Sports Radio station 104.3 The Fan (Denver’s Sports Station) has an iPhone app so you can stream the broadcasts on the go. With all the NFL craziness lately in Denver & because I don’t own an actual radio, I’ve been using the App quite a bit. You can grab it in the App Store.
The original release was about what you would *expect from a local market radio station, a sports inspired background and a somewhat easy to find play button. The primary use of this app is to stream the live broadcasts, however they included a couple features, such as an alarm clock that would auto launch certain broadcasts, the ability to purchase any song they play during commercial breaks, playing the App in the background and viewing their website within the app (we’ll get to this one in a bit…)
Overall the app worked well, it was not the most attractive, however we all know that there are some effective apps out there that are painful on the eyes.
This brings us to a few weeks back when The Fan released an update… which I believe is an update for the WORSE!
Everytime the app launches you get this lovely “the app is being configured” message and a couple tooltips… Configured? What on earth could you be configuring everytime I launch this app? Also gone is the easy to use & find play button, the new one is SO small that it usually takes a few times to get the live show to start streaming… They also added a plethora of menu options, a navigation ? the height of “average” app navigation, used the same icons to represent multiple functions (the Website button is the same as the Play by Play button and all of the archived shows use the same RSS with headphones image).
You can now easily send an SMS message to current show hosts which was a great feature addition. This brings me to the biggest flaw (in my opinion) of both versions of this App. You can access the Facebook page, Twitter page and website for The Fan… Luckily Facebook & Twitter serve mobile optimized pages which make these features somewhat useful, however The Fans website is the actual full-browser website, Flash animation banner included! Putting aside any budget/political/etc… issues, why would you not spend the time on a mobile optimized website if you are going to embed it in your mobile app?
Relating back to the story from Boagworld, I feel like this app is doing too many things. Is this a streaming app, a sports news app or is it my new alarm clock? I feel like there is just too much going on and none of the features are solid.
So instead of just bitching about how difficult the app is to use and how ugly I think it is, I decided to spend a couple of hours and re-design the app (based on what I think the core functionality should be, which by the way is a live streaming app that has access to the archived shows). Here are a few screens I threw together:
The biggest change I made was cleaning up the Navigation, somewhat getting back to what they they had originally (view the original version here). First showing their latest news stories (powered by their websites RSS), featuring the ability to message the on air show (both sending an SMS or calling the show), play the live audio which clearly defines the core feature of the app which is streaming audio, audio & video clips which better organizes all the archive content under one menu item and a settings option for configuring the app.
I feel this is not only a visually cleaner app, but a more focused app feature wise. All the content is better organized, the core features are brought to the forefront and needless/half-baked features have been removed or delivered in a better way. I would hope that someone at The Fan does read this post, my intention is address issues I have with an App I use quite often. I would Love to talk about what I threw together and how to make their mobile experiences better, I can be reach at aaron[at]aaronkwhite.com
*Note: The Fans iOS & Android apps were developed by Jacobs Media.