Banter: Discover amazing new podcasts and shows with your friends.
“A story for every audience, and an audience for every story.”
Banter is a social network for podcast enthusiasts to share and discover episodes based on recommendations and interests. Banter was founded by Steve Krenzel and James Reggio, two successful entrepreneurs, engineers that both share a love of podcasts.
They “were dissatisfied with how fragmented the podcasting space was: there wasn’t a place have a meaningful conversation about an episode they both listened to. Besides, the current model (subscribing to a series then having every episode from now until the end of time published to your feed) creates a lot of noise and doesn’t facilitate discovery of new topics or interests.
Their vision was to change the podcast subscription model to encourage conversation and allow for discovery through topics. There are other “social” podcasting platforms, but most only take into account what the people you follow are listening to. They don’t provide a space to discuss the topics, ideas, and content of a particular episode. Banter adds a layer of discussion and discovery to the podcast experience.
Our goal was to build a product strategy and feature set to bring their idea to life while validating whether the concept was viable. We had 2 months to learn their business strategy and motivations for the product. Whiteboard sessions helped us create an executable go-to-market plan.
Steve and James flew from both coasts to meet us in Austin for ideation, strategy, and workshops. We immediately connected, but what brought us close was that we were all podcast enthusiasts and recognized the isolation in the space. We aligned quickly, talked openly, and could understand each other’s worlds.
Steve and James came with ideas, a PRD, and an early prototype of Banter. The Discovery phase comprised of ideating and white-boarding. We thought of ways to combine an RSS feed with social elements, essentially an autotune mashup for product design. The point was to go all out creatively and get all our crazy ideas on the board, throwing caution to the wind. We could then begin to define the product “why” and values.
We brainstormed features and narrowed the list down to Must Haves. By the time they left, we had an idea of the main features we wanted in Banter’s MVP as well as some remaining design challenges and unanswered questions we wanted to test.
For one, we knew there needed to the baseline features for a podcasting app such as a feed and a way to subscribe. One big question we had was, “Can we also subscribe to producers and people?”
After landing on the initial feature set, we took to wireframes to test our hypothesis. We worked on creating cohesive user flows to illustrate the core experience. Given Steve and James’ experience working in digital products and our limited timeframe, we felt it was appropriate to move to high fidelity wireframes. As we were designing, they were developing hand in hand, so some of these were even prototyped!
Focusing on Interaction
This is an audio application. Most experiences with audio apps require only short interactions: opening it and pressing play. People don’t tend to look at audio apps for very long. Banter is an audio app hinged on visuals, so it was important to figure out how the content moves with the user, both while they are navigating and while they are listening.
Visual Design Concepts
We opened the conceptual design phase up to all designers at Funsize, and many were eager to contribute. We provided designers with fleshed out wireframes and sample content. That way, designers could focus their attention on unique elements and interactions. Here’s three of many concepts that were created.
Concept 1: Uptown Halftone