Chorus Video is an application that allows users to plan, upload, and manage their video content. I was the design lead on this project and worked on this initiative from start to ship.
The case to scale video
Video continues to be one of the major ways people consume content on their devices. Creating informative and high quality video has always been important for Vox Media and the demand was only rising. To efficiently scale the growth of video across all brands, the studio team needed of way to track the creation and usage of video as well as communicate with both on platform editorial teams and off platform partners such as Youtube, Facebook, Comcast, etc.
Spreadsheets ≠ Application
Prior to this project all video content was scheduled and planned via a spreadsheet known as the “Job Book”. This method of managing videos was quickly becoming inefficient and slow. While it provided metadata details about a video it had no upload or publish capabilities. An alternate, more robust solution was needed.
Where do we start?
There were three initial directions in which this project could go.
The first was to manage video through Chorus. Chorus is the publishing platform Vox uses for all editorial content. While there is an asset manager that can upload videos, at the most basic level there is no ability to gather metadata internally. This would make the crucial need of uploading and distributing video secondary to the text editor. This was quickly ruled out.
The second was to manage video externally through Ooyala which was the primary video provider for all on-platform content. While player and metadata capabilities are provided, it locks Ooyala in as a provider should we ever need to switch. It also doesn’t support any other platform such as Youtube which was quickly becoming a primary hub.
The third was to create our own video management tool. While a major undertaking, this would give our users the ability to freely upload, manage, and distribute videos to any platform. It would also allow the company to have a proprietary software that would later become part of our Saas business model.
Learning about our users
I learned pretty early on that to create any video production, it really does take a village. Whether a Netflix special or a 5 minute Youtube explainer there are many roles involved from early stage writers and producers planning the video, to the social media manager who promotes the video at publish, to all the crucial creators and editors in between. Early process explorations included user interviews, research, and workflow mapping to better understand user roles, needs, and handoff points.
Narrowing key objectives
We determined four key needs from our users that we defined for the MVP:
The ability to upload and store video, image & caption files
Manage all metadata related to a video project
Publish to off-platform to providers such as Youtube, Facebook, etc
Be the the ultimate ‘source of truth’ for all published video
Using an iterative design approach
Given the complexity of the application we rolled out changes iteratively. Bringing wireframes to code early on allowed us to test components and layout while giving engineering the chance to begin migration work. All of the mocks below are screenshots from production.
Refining design and functionalities
After a period of testing with our initial staging environments we were able to start polishing on final designs using the Resonance design system. We still continued to test in this stage as new features continued to be worked on and wanted to assure that nothing would come as a surprise to users come launch.
New Project Form Experience
Quick and easy publishing to different platforms was a key feature for Chorus Video. Users often use different versions of titles or thumbnails or even video edits for Youtube vs Facebook depending on the audience. Giving users the ability to customize each field per platform along with one click publish was implemented into the application.
gearing towards launch and integrating outside partners
In December 2018 Chorus Video successfully launched across all internal Vox Media brands as well as with our first outside publisher, Funny or Die. Enabling multi-tenacy work for the project allowed us to serve this tool for both our own editorial users and Chorus customers at once.
As we continue to iterate on an application for a growing audience of users, we are carefully measuring qualitative feedback through our users as well as tracking performance data. In order to support our growing list of provider platforms such as Roku, Apple News, etc we have plans to design a better syndication experience as well as continual upload and player preview work.