Tumblr is the foremost place where close-knit communities share their new ideas, new passions, and new forms of self-expression.
This is an internship project I worked on during my time at Tumblr as an intern on Tumblr’s Product Design team of four designers. From research, UX, visual design, and prototyping, I was fortunate to own the problem, lead the project with the help of the team, and ship the feature in September 2016 on the Google Play Store.
Posting on Tumblr is different from posting on other social networks because users aren't encouraged to say who they are, but just to share what they love. It allows them to build a collage of their passion no matter their identity.
During a user study, I chatted with Jen, a power user of seven years, and watched her reblog three posts in less than five minutes for two of her Tumblr blogs. When I asked what motivates her to post on Tumblr, she said posting feels lighter since the posts aren't directly tied to her identity.
Tumblr is designed so that users can post as many as 250 posts a day whether it's creating an original post or reblogging a post. This unique nature of posting allows users to publish a post in many different ways: users can schedule a post for a specific time, save it as a draft, post it privately, or add it to queue.
The queue keeps users' blog actively posting and growing even when they're at school, work, or sleeping.
Users can set how many posts get published automatically during a specific time frame of a day.
Aside from the limitation that users can only manage their queued posts on web, we identified several other pain points in two scenarios in the mobile experience.
> Unfamiliar with the term "queue"
> Confusing between scheduling a post and adding a post to queue
> Unclear what happens after queueing a post
> Hidden, complicated steps to find the queue
> No way to view and adjust frequency of posts and time frame
The user goal was to easily access and manage queued posts on mobile, whereas the business goal was to increase original post creation on mobile.
If the goals have been met, we can help more blogs grow while users aren't online and there would be more constant stream of interesting, diverse content on the feed as there would be less flooding from high-volume blogs.
We broke the problem down into three key objectives and began to work on them in parallel. These "how might we" questions drove our exploration and experimentation for whiteboarding concepts.
How might we encourage users to use the queue?
How might we help users distinguish scheduling a post vs. adding a post to queue?
How might we allow users to easily manage their queued posts on mobile?
To understand queueing in different contexts, we analyzed the interaction model of other post management platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer.
Defining who we're designing for helped us understand the needs of the power users who regularly post using the queue.
We worked with the Data team to gain insight on queueing on web. We asked questions like: How often do users change their queue settings? What is the most popular time range?
While sketching for design solutions, we studied Tumblr's design system to find existing patterns and UI components to ensure consistency and clarity. Since there were no pre-established patterns, we worked on new ones.
Since there were no pre-established patterns from Tumblr’s design system, I explored a variety of design treatments to find opportunities to make managing queued posts easier.
After loops of feedback and weekly design critiques from the Product Design team and the Engineering team, we learned that design treatments that are native Material Design would drive greater efficiency and create more coherent experience for users.
We also worked closely with the Copy team to shape and polish the product experience. The Copy team played a significant role by crafting clear, friendly copy that helps users achieve a goal and understand the value of queueing.
We continued to collaborate with teams for feedback. Validating our design solutions through user testing especially helped to become confident in our design decisions.
One of the main pain points was that users didn't understand the concept of queueing and were confused with scheduling a post.
To address this problem, we focused on crafting an end-to-end experience. This meant designing for the moment users create a post to the moment queued posts automatically publish by providing users with helpful information in context and providing feedback after performing an action.
The time range of users' queue settings is shown to communicate the concept of publishing during a specific timeframe.
The snackbar confirms users' action. They can directly jump to the queue by tapping on VIEW.
The tooltip describes the value of queueing for users who come to the queue for the first time.
Posting during "Prime Time" allows users to publish posts during the most active time on Tumblr based on user's timezone.
We saw this as an opportunity to help users to post during more insightful, relevant times to increase more post engagements. Since the original default time published two posts per day between 8 am and 4 pm based on no insight, this would undoubtedly be a boost for most users.
To identify prime time, we worked closely with the Post Team, Copy Team, Analytics Team, and Content Community team. We asked questions like: When are users most actively content? How can Prime Time be accurate for most users?
We determined the timeframe of prime time based on the most active hours on Tumblr: 4 pm - 12 am. While active time of user's followers could have been more valuable, we decided to launch first, gather data, and iterate for this phase.
The copy team explored a variety of ways to come up with labels that would interchangeably correspond with time slot input selections.
To add consistent tone and personality, we considered some options such as "After School" as the afternoon time slot, "Early Bird" or "Morning Posts" as morning time slots.
We successfully shipped the feature in September 2016. There's certainly a lot that could be improved. We believe in learning and iterating by shipping often and early.
Even though this was an intern project, I'm excited to be a part of this journey and make an impact on the Tumblr community.
Engineers: Alex Choulos, Or Bar
Product Design Team: Lydia White, Zack Sultan, Anna Niess, Ed Urcardes, Davina Kim
Copy: Kirk Nathanson, Caragh Poh