Bringing Church Media into the Future
Five years ago, the CEO of RightNow Media sat a handful of us down and told us that we were abandoning a 10+ years DVD business to fully commit to streaming. It sounds silly now, but back then we were nervous. Would churches and organizations be willing to adapt and change in a market that's historically sluggish to embrace new technologies? The bet on streaming paid off big time. Businesses, churches and organizations responded by taking the leap and fully embracing the new, all-digital frontier. Today, there are over a million users across hundreds of businesses and organizations using RightNow Media on iOS, Android and the web.
I redesigned the suite of products- both in the interaction and visual style. It may not look like it, but the consumption paradigm is quite different from say, Netflix (which RightNow Media is often compared to). The content types are made up of curriculum, video clips, training modules and a whole separate experience for kids- so I had to design the suite to make diving into diverse content types intuitive and appealing. The design had to educate a new user on content types while feeling familiar and simple. RightNow Media as a product is incredibly dense with very specific complexities, so visually prioritizing and guiding the user interaction was a rewarding challenge.
Although the web rollout came first, we quickly understood that a mobile-first approach was crucial to how the product should grow over time. It was a large shift, so the ideation and design process took almost a year to hammer out with the development team.
In just it's first few months, the iOS app became the primary way that users were accessing RightNow Media. I designed the iOS app to feel different between devices. The iPad layout is wide, cinematic and immersive while the iPhone app is a more agile, on-the-go experience. The visual flavor was tough to pin down. Like most content focused platforms, I didn't want to draw too much attention to the interface itself, but I also didn't want it to be a completely sterile experience. I relied on a nice, condensed font family, a subtle elevation of elements and a set of custom icons to give the interface a splash of personality and fun.
Android came next, and as an Android user myself, I was excited to make a beautiful, first-class Android app. The app is painstakingly careful to follow the Material Design guidelines and it also has a neat implementation of Chromecast. If you take the app for spin, you'll also see that whenever you click on a title, the color theme changes to match the cover (it was not easy!). This app also uniquely features some pattern work that I made specifically for the app that adds a bit more fun and flavor to the experience. I'm really proud of how it turned out and the quality is on par with (if not better!) than the iOS counterpart.
The web experience is the granddaddy that started it all. The first version of RightNow Media was a bloated, muddy (and expensive) platform that was being outsourced several years ago, but thankfully, I got the opportunity to redesign most of the site. I recently fully designed a brand-new, custom CMS backend called Curator.
One of my general rules when I design interfaces is to ask myself, "can my mom use this?" (I've had to explain many generations of user interfaces to my dear mother). Most of the initial user base was in the mid-40's so I couldn't just design around what I personally would understand nor could I just ape some other video platform that targets a younger generation. The most rewarding feedback I got was actually from a retirement center that initially declined RightNow Media- but later decided to subscribe because the new interface was intuitive enough for the residents to use.