Working with the PM at the whiteboard, we worked out the idea of limiting the content categories to a few high-level verticals. Deciding on those verticals could be done through A/B testing, and/or looking at existing data on the most popular content streams in the current site.
Limiting the content to a few verticals had another advantage, it would make navigating easy. Each vertical could have endless content (and infinite scrolling), and the next vertical could be accessed by swiping left or right. We could also add in some UI mechanism for jumping quickly to a vertical. Of course, we would have a search tool for users trying to find something in particular.
To keep users continuously engaged with content required removing as many barriers to accessing content, such as limiting the number of taps it took to get to the content. An idea I came up with was to keep the users in the vertical until they chose to leave it. So if a user was to tap on an item of content to view it, the item would expand in place. If it was an article, at the end of the article, the user would see the items that were originally below that article before they tapped on it. It would be as though they never left the vertical. This would negate the need for the user to have to ever go “back” and instead always go forward.
Navigating the verticals would be as easy as swiping left or right. Or, users could jump to a vertical by opening the menu. The first concept for this was to make the header at the top the menu. We discovered through user testing that this concept wasn’t immediately obvious to users, and in the end, a more straightforward solution was employed (see last wireframe).
To validate our assumptions and observations from user testing, tracking was added to key components of the app. Some elements were re-tooled, but only minimally. One of the biggest changes was to the concept of items opening (expanding) in place. For the sake of speeding up development, the decision was made to use native device flows when transitioning to content. But the idea of showing additional infinite content below the item selected was preserved.