Samsung
Product Design

Milk Video: Designing a Video Product To Entertain Billions

In 2014, Samsung Milk Video was a product foray into entertainment apps headed by Samsung Research, and developed cooperatively with Pivotal Labs. In just 3 months after launch Milk Video had 500k monthly active users and in 2015 it shipped on 50M+ Samsung phones and tablets.

Design Process

In 2014 at Samsung, we already had the premise for Milk Video done before I got there. So my role was to see what was made, what was working and what wasn't, who the target audience was, and try and evolve the project into something better using UX design best practices. I used methods like heuristic analysis, usability analysis, sketching, post-it note collaboration, and more. My primary function was as a product designer: someone who comes in to produce, evolve, fill out, improve, and ultimately ship a product to market.

The Problem

In 2014, people are already too busy to get the content they want

Samsung had done research validating a need in the market by the time I arrived on the team. They found that users are more crunched for time than ever, and shorter forms of entertainment are getting more popular. This led to pursuing the "short form video" approach to entertainment, where a short break can be filled with a promising selection of videos.

Concepts

How might we make a fresh approach to entertainment in the app marketplace?

Products that focus on a broad variety of content already exist. In order to be competitive with products like YouTube and Vevo, we decided we would approach the problem as one of time and entertainment value. There are different lengths of content, and we theorized that a niche existed for short form entertainment, perhaps when a user is taking a break. So we decided to focus on short form entertainment that is trending. Eventually we wanted to also do over-the-top video, and we already were working on solutions for this with major brands.

The Market Context

Samsung was focusing on bigger phones with curved edges. We emphasized this advantage.

As you can see here in the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, Samsung has always taken a first to market approach with technological advances like this. While Apple would be slower to market, Samsung would capitalize on the opportunity by releasing things before Apple did. This way, users who are early adopters can try new approaches to apps. We wanted to also capitalize on this early adopter momentum by using the curved edge of the screen. This curved edge would later lead to the rainbow sidebar in Milk Video.

Product Design

At this phase we focused on developing the product out to its full conclusion. We eliminated things that weren't working, improving the usability, and we expanded the app for future growth.

Wireframes

We collaboratively designed the app using wireframes.

One of the main ideas we had for Milk Video was to quickly switch genres of videos based on the rainbow colored sidebar. This would take advantage of the Edge phones, providing a large colorful surface and haptic feedback, a bump feeling, every time the user switched genres based on their thumb position. As you can see in the wireframes, we had multiple ideas for how to use the unique rainbow bar. Also you have to remember that in 2014/2015 this was sort of on-trend, and we were aiming to capture the younger audience that was more interested in short form video. As we are now vindicated in this prediction with short form video apps like Tik Tok, indeed we were ahead of our time with this concept.

Visual and Motion Design

We visually designed the app to focus more on content and less on UI. We took away certain branding elements that covered up too much of the screen and hid away extra features in the hamburger menu. Because the app was focused on full bleed, edge to edge video content design, we opted for a hamburger menu rather than a bottom nav. Also, the rainbow colored navigation was new to many users so we had an onboarding experience that introudced this interaction to them.

Acclaim and Recognition

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