z Margaret A Babington

Video + Metadata for A+E Networks


Catalog (see here) validated that users needed a way to view all of A+E's content. We also found that accessing the content's correlating data was a major pain point amongst users.

As television viewers continue to cut the cord in record numbers, stakeholders looked to consolidate products, reqeusting that we optimize the existing tools and combine them with the Catalog findings.

I was asked to design the experience for users gaining access to the deep trove of A+E content and data in one product.

My Role

I conducted the research and designed wireframes for the product, working closely with a 3rd party for development.

Stakeholders: VP of Global Business Solution & Tech Lab, Sr. Director of Data Analytics & Dev Ops, and Director of Product

Optimizing Existing Search

A+E Search pulls from several legacy systems, making data available via search for users. I met with the team who built and maintained Search. They helped me map out the high level architecture of our product.

User Needs

Stakeholders from Search introduced me to their power users and use cases. Combining that with my user research from Catalog, I mapped out the major playres and their needs.

Information Architecture

A+E Search would be shut down after the new product launched, so we carefully designed the IA to closely match the current structure.


A+E Search power users would still need to search on a daily basis and Catalog users needed search to look up shows, so the search bar became the central feature. Stakeholders wanted to align with then-CEO's directive to connect employees to our content, so network carousels were placed on the home page. Keeping A+E Search's metadata tabs, we elegantly transitioned those pop ups into episode pages, adding the video tab as the first tab.

VIEW Prototype

Based on my wireframes, the first prototype was built and titled “VIEW”. Under stakeholder direction, a UI design was implemented to match similar products at A+E.

The UI Design

As the project quickly grew in visibility, stakeholders were unsure about the name and look of the product. Two new styles designed and the name Access became an option for the product. I argued it would be best to let the user decide and perform a visual design test.

Testing Visuals

But how do you test a visual design? Pulling inspiration from NNG's best practices, we first established a baseline (or control) for the product's personality. Based on the 5 personality traits from Jennifer Aaker’s Dimensions of Brand Personality – Sincerity, Excitement, Ruggedness, Sophistication, Competence – and our corporate branding, we established this product should align with both SINCERITY (honest) and EXCITMENT (up-to-date).

Interview Script + Participants

We performed a combo usability and visual design test with 7 employees who represented different aspects of the business who ranged in technical saviness.

[Greeting, ask to record, set the stage]

Can you tell me your name

Tell me a little about yourself and your work history (if any) prior to A+E

Tell me about your role at A+E

Perform a 5 sec. visual “impression” test of the homepage of the 3 options


B. Minimal B&W

C. Colorful

Assess user reaction during 5 seconds (facial and body language) and ask users for reaction using an ‘Open Word Choice’.

What are you seeing? Is there anything that you notice, or that stands out to you? Is there anything that you would like to tap/click on?

You have a long day of administrative work ahead and you want to play GRACE VS. ABRAMS on A&E in the background while you work. You’d like to start from the beginning and binge-watch the first season.

You want to try out FYI’s Married At First Sight. You’ve never seen it before and would like to watch the first episode. Can you talk out loud and describe what you’re seeing.

You’re curious about what’s episodes they’ve filmed production right now in 2018.

You think your colleague, Tom who works in Los Angeles, would really like Married at First Sight too. What do you do?

You’d like to watch AMERICA'S GREATEST THREAT: VLADIMIR PUTIN a History Channel Special.

You hear that Forged in Fire on History Channel is a huge hit and you’d like to check it out. You’re told to watch a specific episode had huge ratings – Season 4, Episode 18 – so you want to watch this episode.

You work in Legal and you need to know when season 1, episode 4 of Leah Remini Scientology and the Aftermath aired. You also need to find a

You work for Viceland and would like that to be the first network on your homepage.

You really loved the concept of Truck Night in America and want to mark the series for yourself to watch later.

Did you find this app/site useful?

How did this compare to the app/sites you usually use?

Is there anything you’d expect to be able to do that you couldn’t do?

If you leave this room and someone asks you what was that project about, what would you say?

Are you familiar with similar apps? [How often do you use it/them?]

User Findings

I synthesized the feedback by affinity mapping the users comments and interactions, eventually grouping them by features and then smaller themes within. We found users did not have a clear 'favorite' when it came to the visual designs. However, they did have polarizing reactions to the 3 options, either loving or hating them. I saw a more moldable mental model, having distanced this product from the 'video streaming' mental model that I'd come up against when testing Catalog. But as I'd seen in previous tests, these enterprise users were no more patient for usability issues than they would've been at home.

After white boarding (see above image) initial solutions grouped by feature, I presented my findings and recommendations to the design team, which included our project manager who could assess the affect on our timeline.