MixDown

Expression through short radio mashups

MixDown is a radio app and service that allows young adults to express themselves by creating short radio mash-ups.

The faculty for this class were from the BBC and we were tasked with the creation a new digital service for 18-24 year olds. Using the corporation’s diverse and extensive programming, they wanted to reach the youth generation in an innovative way.

Through our user research, we developed a persona: Verena, an energetic 17-year-old high school senior. Verena makes extensive use of digital services like YouTube and Pandora, but our focus was on her use of Vine, which she uses to make 6-second silly videos with her best friend.

Through our user research, we became intrigued by the use of Vine, especially within the context of Snapchat, Twitter, and Tumblr. These applications enable micro-expressions: snippets of content that convey a narrative despite its very short-form nature. If Twitter is the text platform for micro-expression, Snapchat the image platform, and Vine the video platform; what, then, could the audio platform be like?

Our answer to this question is MixDown, a cross-platform listening and making service. In our scenario, Verena is listening to a radio program in the car, and decides to save what she’s listening to and use it to congratulate her friend who is graduating from high school. With a swipe of her finger, she saves the program into MixDown, and can access it again later on her phone. In her phone, she edits the clip, records a personal message, and mashes up several snippets into one. She then publishes the mashup and shares it with her friend.

We believe that MixDown aligns with the design needs for both the BBC and youth users, offering an entertaining way to create a personal voice, while sharing summaries and quick updates from the news.

On reflection, most of our learnings during this course were process-oriented; we solidified a process for going from user to concept to product. We learned tools to identify the core idea of the service, create guiding principles, and decide the look and feel of the service. We also sharpened our animation and video prototyping skills. This project was realised in three days (with very little sleep).

Photo Credit: Jacek Barcikowski and Arunima Singh