One thing that I’ve been noticing recently is the distinction between the venue for the discovery of media content and the consumption of it. It’s notable to explore, as media distribution dramatically changes, not only is the consumption of content shifting, but also the discovery is as well. And those shifts are not always parallel. . . .Prior to having TiVo, I learned about new television shows in the ad promos between during the commercial breaks. Now as I skip through these, I am really not discovering new shows at all. Movies are the same way; I used to learn about them on television commercials and in the previews, now I only do through the latter (when I am forced to sit through them). . . . Perhaps discovery has been traditionally most effective when it is directly integrated into the consumption workflow. . . .
I’ve found most of the new content I’ve consumed (regardless of type) in the past year or two has been through some type of word of mouth. It’s obvious that discovery will increasingly include a social component to it, and technology will aid in that process.. . . I wonder, though, with the disruption of media towards digital formats, if the discovery becomes detached from consumption method, and if consumers will be increasingly frustrated about finding what they want to consume. As content producers scramble to find the right distribution outlet for their content, are they mindful of how consumers will discover it, wherever it is?
BrightPlanet certainly found the same thing in re-designing the workflow for its Deep Query Manager analyst’s content platform. Early designs had purposeful content harvesting segregating from the discovery step. This forced users to make the unrealistic and uncomfortable choice of whether they were now in the discovery mode or now in the purposeful content aggregation mode. And, of course, users frequently shifted between both without awareness of these different modes whatsoever.
As a result, in our third major version of the DQM product, released in October 2004 (we are now in version 5.3), we completely redesigned the interface and workflow to make these distinctions seamless, in part by adding the QuickSearch functionality. (We’re also in the process of making the transitions to analysis and content manipulation seamless, as well). The resulting product workflow looks like this; note the interactive, “contact sport” nature of initial search and discovery:
As with Beisel’s observations, it is important to include discovery and all aspects of the work cycle in mind when designing workflows or product or service positioning. Good thought upfront can lead to a more satisfactory user experience, leading of course to greater revenues.