Zoltan Gocza
Ustream

Ustream (2012–2013)
Director of UX and product design

Overview

Ustream is one of the leading streaming video platforms with tens of millions of viewers and thousands of broadcasters such as NASA, Salesforce, Facebook, Sony and, my personal favorite, TechCrunch.

As Director of UX, I led the 9-person product design team and personally designed many features of Ustream.

About Ustream

  • 60m+ monthly viewers
  • 1m+ broadcasts per month
  • More than 180 employees, offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Budapest, Tokyo and Seoul
  • Notable events streamed through Ustream include the Mars Curiosity Rover landing, the Obama campaign, TechCrunch Disrupt, Playstation 4 launch, Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, and the 2012 Psy concert among others.
  • And, most importantly, Ustream was featured on the TV series Silicon Valley!

Defining strategy

I joined Ustream to transform it to a design-driven, user-centered company. I was part of the directors and VPs responsible for defining and driving strategy, I took part in planning, defining OKRs and the roadmap.

The biggest challenge I faced was turning Ustream from the media-focused company into a SaaS business. This required major changes in the design goals and direction, and in the mindset of my team.

Leading the product and design team

I sourced and built a truly great product design team consisting of 5 UX designers, 3 Awwwards-winner UI designers and a project manager.

As UX Director, my focus was to

  • Articulate product vision and strategy,
  • Set design direction, translate it into design goals and principles,
  • Coach UX designers, guide them in setting goals for their respective product areas,
  • Get hands-on giving feedback in daily interaction design, research and other questions,
  • Communicate with other departments and clients.

Product design

I worked on all aspects of the product from the website through our mobile apps to our desktop applications. Here are a couple of samples from concepts and designs I created.

Homepage

As part of the shift in strategy, I completely redesigned our homepage to effectively communicate the SaaS platform but still serve the needs of existing visitors that looked at Ustream as a media destination.

Here’s the wireframe I created for the homepage:

Discovery and viewing experience

I designed the discovery and viewing experience that let watchers find and enjoy live and recorded content. A major innovation in the design was that users could seamlessly switch to explore new channels while the broadcast they were watching continued minimized. This interaction pattern was later introduced by YouTube as well in its mobile apps.

I conducted interviews, defined goals, created the concept, designed the information architecture, the layouts and the interactions. I defined activity funnels and ran dozens of A/B tests – some resulting in double-digit lifts in conversion.

Here’s a sample diagram from my analysis showing the main user flows:

Here’s a wireframe I created for the discovery experience:

And here’s the viewing experience:

Here’s another work sample, the grid for the modular containers:

Read more about the redesign on TechCrunch.

Broadcaster

I also led the redesign of our broadcaster that allows people to stream live video directly from the browser. Based on the broadcasters’ input and behavioral data from Google Analytics, I reorganized the layout, made it responsive and improved the functionality. I designed new features (eg. Playlists), created and optimized upsell opportunities through a series of experiments.

As a result, we migrated most broadcasters from the old version and improved significantly our metrics (both usage and sales of Pro features).

Here are some wireframes from my broadcaster design:

And some annotated wireframes for creating Live Playlists I designed:

Other projects

I designed many other parts of the product like the sales funnel, the partner program, the pay-per-view flow, the log-in and onboarding experience. I was also heavily involved in all other design projects, like the complete revamp of our mobile apps, the development of the product marketing pages, as well as the introduction of many new features.

Growth and optimization

In the design team, I introduced an approach to continuously experiment and optimise alongside the design of new features and big-scale improvements, my motto being that a day without an experiment is a day wasted. A lot of these experiments greatly contributed to Ustream’s growth.

Some optimizations I did:

  • I designed and optimized the sales funnel.
  • I designed and conducted dozens of A/B tests with Optimizely and our in-house testing tool. Some of the tests resulted in double-digit increase in conversion in task-completion and sales. Read the report on one of our tests on Optimizely.com
  • I designed proxy experiments for features, so we can test impact in small, lean experiments.
  • I conducted dry tests to validate viability and estimate interest in features before actually building them.
  • I used analytics to prioritize projects for highest impact, sometimes putting projects showing 3-5% increase in conversion on hold, in order to focus on more promising features.

Research

I introduced the mindset to be always learning about our users. We did many interviews with US users, conducted polls and surveys, released beta features to gather feedback. We heavily analyzed usage patterns with Google Analytics Premium and with the help of our business intelligence team. We all did customer support from time to time to feel the pain points as closely as possible.

Results

It was a great experience to be part of Ustream’s shift in strategy that eventually led to a successful acquisition by IBM.

During my time at Ustream:

  • I built the design team and made it a driver in product vision and execution
  • Made design a central value of Ustream’s culture
  • Validated and filtered many feature ideas
  • Released many well-received features
  • Ustream received constantly high NPS received from broadcasters
  • Ustream has been voted as best live video platform (and won the award 3-times in a row)

Have a wonderful !