Told. Designing a new form of video app

In 2017 video on social media was booming. Told believed that there was a space to fill in the market - a new form of collaborative video app.

This is the story of how I gave young creators a platform to express and collaborate on.

My Role

Being the only designer on the small team of 4 meant that I had a lot of responsibility. I was working with everything related to design and product: Concept, wireframing, prototyping, identity/branding, and visual design.

The Challenge

Building the unknown

We knew we wanted to build something with video, for a younger audience. But we weren’t sure exactly what it was going to be - we were going to figure it out by trial and error.

The philosophy of the company was very iterative. We couldn’t know what would work, so we had to keep testing. Trial and error until something sticks. While I was there we worked on a new take on a social video platform.

Challenges with evolving ideas

Working in a dynamic and fast paced environment brings some challenges. It taught me that you are not your ideas, and you can not know exactly what is going to work.

Since the product we worked on kept evolving, it also meant that you might spend weeks on some design that turned out to be discarded in the end. It’s all part of the process to arrive at the final product, so it’s not something that could be skipped. It was good learning for me.

The Framework

Figuring out the need

One thing we worked a lot on, was figuring out the need for our users. That could be the bigger need for the whole app or a need for a specific feature we worked on. The jobs-to-be-done framework by Clay Christensen helped us do this in a good and very down to earth way. It made us take a step back and really think: What is the job (problem) we are solving right now?

Wireframes and user flows

To quickly test out different ideas I sketched lots of wireframes. It was both free hand to get a feeling of how elements should be placed, or on printed iPhone templates with dots on them, if I wanted to get more precise.

Wireframes for possible profile pages

Wireframes for different possible clip libraries

Visual design

After testing different ideas on paper, I moved on to the next step: Visual design. Here it’s important to give the whole app the same visual expression so everything feels inline with each other.

Since the primary content is video, we decided to keep the UI minimal and let the content get the most focus.

Prototyping and testing

Static mockups won’t get you very long when building an app based on video. To get as close as possible to a replica of the final product, I used Principle to test how different flows and different part of the app worked in an interactive prototype.

The prototypes also work well for user testing. We had tests on specific areas of the app with people from our shared office space and students.

Branding and identity

From the beginning Colin Treseler, one of our founders had chosen purple to be our primary color. We believed it was playful and different.

We knew we wanted to do something with the 👌 emoji, it too was playful and very fitting for the young target group we wanted. We started out by using the emoji as the 'd' in Told, but it didn't work well. We instead decided to make it an icon very alike the original emoji. For the typeface we wanted something simple and after a few iterations ended up going with a slightly modified version of Gill Sans.

Great ideas with big potential

Building a new social video platform is hard and comes with a lot of challenges. When I left Told it had not launched yet. Today it’s been live for a bit more than a year, and tweaked the concept slightly. It's been built on top of the design and thoughts we had while I was there - It’s about iterating until you discover the right approach.

I’m excited to see where the Told team take it next.

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