Vimeo On Demand is an open platform that gives filmmakers and distributors the tools they need to sell their work to audiences worldwide with options to rent, buy, and subscribe on tons of devices.
I worked on a complete redesign of the storefront, which included all the ways customers search, browse, discover, and buy videos across devices.
What was originally a small platform of a few curated titles when it launched in 2013 quickly exploded into an open marketplace where anyone could sell their work. The on demand and subscription video landscape has grown rapidly in recent years, and in order to keep up with the competition, Vimeo On Demand needed to make a lot of changes.
We identified that our marketplace not only needed a facelift, it needed a UX overhaul. There were a lot of dead end pages and confusing rabbit holes in the user flow that we basically axed in favor of a much simpler system. We also mowed through a lot of technical debt that had been piling up, which felt pretty great.
Know thy user
I was basically raised by Blockbuster rentals (pour one out). So the user research, testing, and competitive analysis for Vimeo On Demand was crazy fascinating to me. I learned a ton, not only about how people were using (or not using) our existing site, but about how people make purchase decisions.
Armed with Crazy Egg heatmaps, user surveys, testing videos, and case studies about everything from carousels to rating systems, we put together an improved marketplace experience that helped customers easily discover the films and series they were looking for.
There were a lot of goals we needed to accomplish with the homepage for Vimeo On Demand since we set it up as the discovery destination for the entire marketplace. Off the bat, after doing a fair deal of research and reading through a couple case studies, we managed to talk our sales team out of populating the hero carousel with dozens of titles at a time. It now features a title, curated collection, or CTA for potential sellers as the marquee. Carousels are proven not to convert well, but we wanted that big hero image to set the cinematic tone for the page.
We identified in our user intreviews that one of the key drivers for on demand video plaforms is the catalog. With an open platform, we have a lot of niche films that people aren't accustomed to seeing in their shelves and shelves of blockbuster and mainstream content. So we positioned genres as the main jumping off point for discovery. For most users, if they don't know what they're looking for specifically or they're unfamiliar with the catalog, they turn to genres as safe, common ground. I also really can't pass up an opportunity to draw some new icons.
One of the most exciting things I got to add to the platform is an idea of ratings and reviews. Vimeo has always had comments for on demand titles, but we shied away from including a system of rating because it seemed counter to our "Be cool and play nice" community mantra.
Well it turns out, across the board, users identified ratings as being the chief piece of information they use to make a purchase decision for on demand videos. Let them eat cake, as I famously say. So the task then became figuring out what system worked best for us. I studied all sorts of options, from recommneded systems to binary systems to every number of start rating options. In the end, 5 stars seemed like the best option. It offers the ability to specify a neutral response and doesn't bog the user down with too many choices or graularity.
The intial organization of Vimeo On Demand built a bread crumb path of browse, browse more, and browse all that users were really offput by. So my main goal here was to give users one page that kept them oriented while giving them the ability to browse as specifically as they wanted.
The result was a page that let users search, sort, and filter to their heart's content. A lot of people told us about their frustrations when it came to figuring out what was new, what was recommended, and what was promoted. So aside from clearing up that language on the homepage, we organized our catalog explicitly. Sorting by popular shows you our curation algorithm. Sorting by newest shows you the newest titles to come to the platform. No funny business. No sneaky promoted titles. Just the newest videos. We really just wanted to give users the tools they identified as lacking on other platforms.
On top of that, I also designed two views: the same sort of grid view as on the homepage, and a details view. This gives users the option of using the hoverstate tooltips to check what strikes their fancy, or show a full set of info for every title, making it easier to quickly compare different titles, especially on touch devices.
Between doing all of this product work, talking to stakeholders, and design all of the moderator backend tools for managing the Vimeo On Demand marketplace, this project took the better part of half a year. It was great to approach a platform like this from top to bottom, and we've even started incorporating a lot of our research and ideas into other parts of the main site.