How might user experience and immersive video be used to engage younger audiences for NPR?

In our shoes is an immersive first person storytelling platform that allows users to step into someone else's shoes to gain insights about people who live drastically different lives. Designed for mobile VR and the Google cardboard platform, users can immerse themselves in a series of human-interest stories created by NPR.

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Problem, Research, and design principles

NPR approached us with a specific problem: their young listener population is shrinking. David Al-IbrahimShane Strassberg and I combined this challenge with a personal interest: the immersive storytelling potential of virtual reality and 360 video. We wanted to understand how people between the ages of 15 and 25 consume news content, and how they felt about VR and 360 video.

Some important research insights were:

1. They skim news on the go. They dive into it during the course of the day at different times.
2. Virtual reality is not a commonly used medium. However, they do enjoy 360 video and believe it is very engaging. 
3. They are interested in human-centered stories
4. They value honesty in a story. It makes them feel like they can relate. 
5. Social media is a big source of both news and human-centered stories.

 

IDEATION AND WIREFRAMES

To target both the skimming and diving behaviors, we decided to provide two formats of stories on in our shoes. Dive content would be produced by NPR in high quality with 360 cameras. Skim content could be uploaded by any in our shoes viewer.

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We also sketched out several flows to see how both these formats could be e

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Design and Prototype

By adding  visual and content fidelity, we brought the experience to life through the In Our Shoes App.

The videos below show the screen transitions while uploading a story and while browsing through content on in our shoes. The first video shows the upload screens, while the second video shows how a story on in our shoes could be experienced.

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How to upload a story on the In Our Shoes app for users to skim.

Experiencing an In Our Shoes story while either skimming or diving