I'm excited by podcasting's steady ascendance and potential as an alternative to public radio’s legacy business model. I love podcasts, but like anyone who listens to them, I’ve been frustrated by parts of the experience.
Podcast discovery and management feels like too much work. There are too many podcasts, poor metadata, no trusted editors or friends to send signals about where the best podcasts are. It’s too hard to discover new things or know where to spend your time.
I thought it would be fun to imagine what a better podcast service might look like. I want an app that curates a large, vibrant library of content for the “public radio” listener - the people who view the world with curiousity and care. I believe there’s an opportunity to capitalize on the exploding market for podcasts, allow listeners to connect with their favorite shows in more meaningful ways, and unlock new business models for supporting great audio content.
In my spare time, I explored different product design and UI concepts, having fun designing the podcast app of my dreams. But this is more than just an exercise in UI design. It’s borne out of a belief that podcasting will upend traditional public radio listening habits, and that there’s an opportunity to build a product to serve the next generation of listeners. The result is an app design concept I’m calling freq.fm.
Structure and UI
Once I created an elevator pitch for my app and brainstormed some outcomes, I worked on designing an app structure that would support different modes of podcast discovery and keep a clear separation between content selection, exploration, management and playback.
The Home tab gives users a quick list of new episodes from the shows they’re following, as well as a feed of the shows your friends and favorite show hosts are listening to. The Discover tab makes finding new content fun with editor’s picks, quick 30-second clips of great shows you’ve never listened to before, and a list of the episodes that are trending across the network. Power users can create playlists and sync audio for offline listening in the Manage tab.
It’s all about the shows
Individual shows get first-class treatment, moving beyond podcast cover art to spotlight the personalities behind your favorite shows. “Following” a show doesn’t just mean you get their latest episodes; it also means you see what the producers and hosts of that show are listening to, get notified when they’re coming to your town, and are able to support a show’s fundraising efforts, all directly within the app.
While I'm not an identity designer, part of the fun of working on this passion project was getting to name it and imagine how its branding would position it as the app that young public radio podcast fans will want to use.
Once I had a name that referenced traditional radio as well as a forward-looking take on audio listening, I started exploring logotypes and colors that would embody both the qualities of the app, as well as the identity of a young public radio podcast fan. Pairing a bright color pallette with the clean lines of Gotham Light, I landed on a wordmark and app icon that feel fresh and contemporary, but that also gesture toward simplicity and refinement.
It’s is a great time to be an aspiring radio storyteller. Great shows are connecting with tribes of people who are willing to listen to and support them. freq.fm would be the first podcasting app to give producers tools to make crowdfunding appeals actionable and frictionless.
My goal with freq.fm is to imagine a service that makes discovering and listening to podcasts fun and accessible, eliminating podcast busy work so users can enjoy an experience as simple and delightful as listening to a great public radio station. I want to create an app that will be a badge of identity, connecting a likeminded tribe of the best audio storytellers and the most curious and intelligent listeners.