Boiler Room  |  Multi-Platform (2016)

Music TV for the Internet age

Role: Design Director





With investment and the backing to build a Product team from scratch, I have spent just over 2 years working as Design Director at Boiler Room, building a multi-platform experience across web, mobile and TV.

Our goal has been to build a regular user base within our owned-experiences, building on the engaged community we have across Youtube and Soundcloud and to find ways to monetise the product in addiiton to current commercial models. 

Boiler Room is a global online music broadcasting platform commissioning and streaming live music sessions around the world. The first Boiler Room session was recorded using a webcam duct taped to the wall of a disused boiler room, and the session was broadcast live online on U-stream. Since then, we have hosted shows in around 100 cities worldwide, from Stockholm to Shanghai.



Underground music discovery across multi-platform


1. Mobile apps

• 200,000+ downloads across iOS and Android

• Built 14 day retention from 20% to 36% in ’17 Q4

• Two app store features on iOS

A video and audio based mobile app released on iOS and Android that presents a curated collection of the best Boiler Room DJ sets, performances, films and documentaries with offline audio and a searchable archive.


2. Apple TV

• Featured on App Store

• ~10,000 downloads of the Apple TV app

• Repositioning to multi-platform entertainment

One of Boiler Room’s first steps towards its vision of becoming Music TV for the Internet age. Our content strategy focussed around the brand’s longer-form film and documentary content, alongside the best of Boiler Room’s DJ sets to introduce the brand to a new audience.


3. Responsive web

• Decreased avg. bounce rate from 60% to 28%

• Avg. session duration grew 3x

• Introduction of new content strategy

• Streamlined CMS controlling mobile, web and TV

Alongside the new platforms we have released over the past year or so, we have been building a new web experience from the ground up from both an end-user and admin-user perspective. Large-scale information architecture changes have been key in allowing us to build out a cohesive and future-facing experience across all platforms. 



Introducing a user research program


Being responsible for recruiting a small team of designers and user researchers, I facilitated the development of a user research program that helped to move the company away from C-level focussed feature release to a user-centred approach to product development. Managing a junior user researcher / product designer gave me great experience in Lean UX methodologies while allowing others to really take ownership of making research and validation happen on a more granular,day-to-day  level.


Build > Measure > Learn

Outcome example:
Our early assumption that creating a silo’ed experience around genre ‘channels’ failed to engage fans in the ways we set out. The preference testing around alternative ways to curate and structure content around playlists helped increase 14 day retention from  around 20% to around 35%.

Over the first 12 months of the mobile app being live, the core experience around music discovery was developed and iterated on with constant user input. We introduced in-app feedback channels,  monthly one-on-one user testing sessions for usability and concept discovery as well as regular surveys and diary studies. 


An example of the iterative progression of how featured content was packaged and presented within the mobile app.



Prioritising and measuring




I was involved, alongside our Head of Product in introducing a company wide vision and strategic plan that brought all departments of the company together for the first time. 


The introduction of clear objectives and KPIs gave the entire team focus on what we needed to achieve and gave us a way to work out where to put our efforts in an aligned fashion. 


Example: Increase (14 day) retention to 35%


This was one of 4 product team objectives set for Q4 2017 with stakeholder input based on the low rate of returning users over a weekly basis on the mobile apps.  

Making use of insights and knowledge from across the entire product team, I facilitated a mini workshop to generate ideas on how we may want to tackle the problem in hand. 

Structuring all ideas around the following two questions allowed us to focus on the problem in hand and look at each concept within a consistent context:


Measuring effort and impact

Many of the ideas that are generated at this stage come with solid insight from users and analytics in various forms; from user interview quotes, in-app feedback to app store reviews.


Based on the tightly scoped out concepts presented amongst the team, both designers and developers were able to roughly estimate the efforts of each idea alongside a group view of the impact on the user in context to the objective in question.



Documenting design


Design /development handover


From fully scoping out acceptance criteria as a group (designers, developers and a project manager) from the very beginning of a Sprint to presenting every user story and flow, the Boiler Room product design team always made sure that the development team were involved at every stage of the creative process and had every level of detail needed to execute the build without any scope-creep or suprises. 


Abstract became the tool of choice for the design team in terms of working collaboratively, being transparent with updates and changes as well as sharing detailed documentation around styling, layout and logic. 


A component library was created across all platforms using an Atomic Design System.


Guidebooks and tutorials

As well as the design documentation created to help with the build implementation, docs were created for content, creative and commercial teams to teach others how to use the platforms that we were building for.