About the project
Since April 2015, Can Yayınları has been publishing Socrates Magazine monthly. In addition to the printed magazine, Socrates Team produces various content on digital media platforms such as Youtube, Spotify and Soundcloud regularly. Socrates Team worked with SHERPA for 8 months to redesign the user experience and interfaces of the Socrates Magazine website. Our aim with the new website was to combine video, podcast, and printed magazine content under one roof, to make the contents easily accessible to users, and also to provide a personalized experience.
Business objectives and problems
At the beginning of the project, Socrates team clearly outlined their business objectives and problems they wanted to tackle in the system. The main business objective was to design a platform that houses all the different content types, which spread across social media platforms such as Youtube and Spotify, and enable users to access the content seamlessly. In addition to that, our other high-priority objectives were to customize the user experience depending on content type and to improve existing subscription flows. The main problems of the current experience were listed as follows:
- The current website doesn't reflect Socrates's content diversity
- There are some roadblocks and open ends in the current membership and subscription flow
- Social media and websites have two different user groups and neither interacts with the content of the other
- The digital version of the printed magazine is not user-friendly on mobile devices
Through the new website, we aimed to set up a scalable system that provides an end-to-end user experience that reflects the content diversity of the Socrates ecosystem.
Defining the problems and strategy
At the beginning of the project we worked with the Socrates team to analyze project requirements and prioritize problems. Following our analysis, we prepared a UX roadmap including methods that can be used in the discovery, ideation, and creation phases. Once we shared the map and agreed upon it, we began the discovery phase of the project.
Our discovery phase was a very agile process where we deep-dived into the needs and problems of this project. Our first step was identifying the current and potential pain points of users with the support of analytical data. After this, we investigated the common approaches of international sports broadcast organizations to the identified problems by conducting several benchmark analyses. We shared our findings and implications with Socrates team and built the foundation of our two-layer experience strategy. In the first layer, we discussed the existing digital assets of Socrates as well as the experiences offered by other international platforms in the digital publishing space. In the second layer, we discussed the characteristics of the experience that will be designed, based on Socrates's brand identity and principles. The discussion led us to build our vision on providing a unique and high-quality user experience that will shape user expectations for the digital sport broadcasting industry.
On the Strategy Canvas, we outlined four main steps that would lead to our intended experience:
- Compiling Socrates's wide spectrum of content under one roof with an easy-to-use, intuitive system
- Designing the digital magazine experience from scratch with a mobile user focus
- Adopting a holistic view of subscription and membership models
- Customization of the user experience based on content types
We considered the current founding principles of Socrates and merged them with our strategy. As a result, we have determined our guiding principles as “Brave“, “Innovative“, “Accessible“, “Inclusive“, “Valuable“ and “Humanistic“.
In the discovery process, we defined actions and guiding principles that shaped the answers to “what” we will do and “why” for business goals and problems. In order to respond to the "how" question, we took the next step in the project and began writing user stories, which are integrated into the ideation phase.
Designing the content
In user story creation, which is the first step of the ideation phase, we worked on “how” the main actions in our strategy would be reflected in the system. While creating the stories, we took into account the range of features offered by the existing structures of the system, the business objectives, the research outputs in the discovery phase, the strategy we prepared and the habits of target users. We identified 3 different user types - visitor, member and subscriber- and aimed to create a holistic experience which puts each user in the center at every step of the flow. We completed our project planning by prioritizing the user stories we created together with the project owner and the software team.
After the creation of user stories, we started working on the category tree and the navigation which were the corner pieces of the desired solution. We created the category tree and navigation with the primary goal of enabling users to reach and discover the content that interests them effortlessly. While creating the category tree, we grouped all the contents in the Socrates ecosystem and classified them to fit the mental models of users. One of our key decisions for navigation was to offer the user a two-tier structure based on content type and topic. The navigation layout reflects this decision in the positioning of main content types like “read”, “watch” and “listen”, as well as subject topics like basketball, football, and bicycle.
We started to create the information architecture based on the category tree and navigation scheme. During the creation process our main focus was to increase content engagement by simplifying the discovery process. Within the framework of the information architecture we have decided how and in what order the content would be presented to the users on a given page. We have designed a simple and effective structure that would enable users to easily meet with the subject, program and content producer they are interested in, without the need for complex algorithms.
The tag structure, in which we reflect both content types and basic descriptive elements such as subject and author, provided an opportunity for users to follow and customize their experiences, while ensuring that contents in the system can be grouped and managed effectively.
Once we created the general structure of the system and the information architecture for content-centered pages, we began creating user and system flows for membership and subscription processes in which user interactions were the main focus.
We designed user flows intending to support the user at every step of the process and ensure they reach their goal successfully. Through simulations of all possible scenarios in flows, we aimed to fill any system gaps. With the help of the user flows, we were able to map the action-based parts of the user experience and created a foundation where we could discuss the necessary technical infrastructure.
Reflecting the brand identity
In the project, building a digital design identity based on Socrates's printed brand identity was of the utmost importance. It would not be an ideal solution to adapt the visual world created in the print magazine to the website as-is since the website has different dynamics and interaction requirements. To find a solution to this problem, we deciphered Socrates's existing brand identity. During this process, we observed a structure that was capable of presenting opposite qualities in harmony: being intellectual without abandoning street language, combining current events with timeless information, blending professional work ethic and amateur spirit. By using this contrast in site language, forms, and layouts, we managed to create a visual language that is both lively and peaceful. Furthermore, we achieved the flexibility and modularity needed by websites associated with digital sport broadcasting.
In light of our visual design, the characteristics of the content and current usage habits, we created modules that could be used both on desktop and mobile devices. In order to highlight the content, we designed cleaner and calmer visual modules for the content pages. On the homepage and listing pages we used more visual heavy modules to reinforce the new visual identity. By bringing together modular structures, which provided flexibility in design, we assembled user interfaces that reflect our user-oriented experience strategy with the unique character of Socrates. We completed the project by handing over the interface library (UI Library) to Socrates and the software team to ensure the sustainability and scalability of the website.
We closely collaborated with Socrates team throughout the discovery, ideation and creation phases. After the final stage of the creation phase, we handed off the project to our development partner Atölye15, who delicately developed the project. The new Socrates Magazine website, which we collectively built as a user centric and scalable platform is now online!
Socrates Magazine General Manager
SHERPA is fast, honest, talented and obsessed about the quality of the work. 10/10.