NPR Playlists

Helping NPR acquire a younger generation of listeners expecting a higher degree of personalization.


5 Weeks


Kohzy Koh

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The Problem

For our Advanced Fundamentals of UX class, we worked with NPR to help them personalize the NPR One platform for younger audiences. We used NPR’s comprehensive research as a launch point to identify the needs of the organization. We talked to Steve Mulder — NPR’s Director of Audience Insights — to get a sense of NPR’s goals for the near future. We mapped the insights from our conversations to get a sense of what we were solving for.

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The Research

We found out that while NPR is a go-to news source for older audiences, it doesn’t integrate tightly into the news consumption habits of younger audiences. A lot of younger audiences’ social feeds are their primary news sources. As a result, not only do younger audiences experience the news in a more fragmented manner, they also expect a higher degree of personalization. Our solution had to work well within the contexts younger users were already familiar with.

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The Sketching

Once we had developed an understanding of the problem we were trying to solve, we began sketching concepts. After going through several iterations, patterns began to emerge. We decided to take a concept that younger users were already familiar with — the playlist — and use it to present NPR content that’s relevant to their moods and interests. Our concept not only served NPR content in a highly personalized way, but also surfaced legacy NPR content in an intuitive manner.

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Where Playlists Live

In order to effectively communicate our concept to NPR, we challenged ourselves to create high-fidelity prototypes. We wanted to leave nothing to the imagination, so we envisioned every aspect of the feature all the way from the content to the animations. We reorganized the existing architecture of the NPR One app to accomodate the playlists feature. In order to help the feature gain traction on launch, we proposed that NPR should get famous curators to create a set of themed playlists.

Sharing Playlists

Our research showed that social platforms were the primary news sources of our target users. We propsosed a set of rich widgets where users could preview a playlist from their feeds before diving in. The rich widgets would enable the playlists to stand out from other content on users' feeds.

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Playlist Creation

We wanted to empower users to make and share their own playlists. We envisioned the journey of creating a playlist and filling it with episodes. By creating their own playlists, users would be able to organize NPR content in more personal ways. They will no longer have to wade through huge lists to find an episodes they want to share or revisit.

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