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The Science of UX

A publishing platform, advertising platform, and playlist application by Flipeleven Creative

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The Project

Radio Milwaukee is not just a local radio station, they are a major stimulant for a more inclusive and engaged community in Milwaukee. They do this through myriad events, award-winning local storytelling, and tremendously diverse music.

Flipeleven led a redesign in 2015, but as technologies evolved, so did the desires of website users. The 2015 rebuild was heavily focused on style and the digital swagger that is so critical to the Radio Milwaukee culture.

For this upgrade, we dove head first into user testing and the deep well of usage data to drive design and user experience decisions.

The Big Idea

Scientifically improve the experience for Radio Milwaukee fans without compromising on their signature style.

The Data

We had to clear a few hurdles to get to quality user data. For example, users would stream the station online in a separate window after closing the main site, which skewed time-on-site analytics. After wading through the data and sharing preliminary designs with testing groups for feedback, we uncovered visitors’ key pain points:

  • Speed
  • Stability
  • Simplicity

No easy task for an imagery-driven site with over 10,000 pages.

Speed

To increase perceived speed, we intelligently stagger the site’s loading. First, the frame of the site, then we use gzip compression to serve all images and content from a CDN (content delivery network), and finally we load Google DoubleClick, which serves the ads, as it takes the absolute longest to load on any given page.

Additionally, since speed was paramount, and because the backend content management system is built on Wordpress, we employed a cacheing plugin to speed up queries on the website. These are just some of the best practices we employed, including some from progressive web apps, which make websites feel more like native applications.

Stability

Custom article templates were critical to the Radio Milwaukee team, but stability was key for the end-user. To solve this, we created many modular content types within the admin. Editors could customize every article or page while knowing their readers would receive a consistent, stable, experience across browsers and devices.

Also, since the majority of the front-end experience is taken out of the Wordpress framework, we had to build an API to interface with the website data. There are existing rest-api plugins built for Wordpress, but the requests were found to be far too slow and limiting. We created our own custom API, which allowed us to hand-pick the data we were querying for the custom web templates, improving both speed and stability.

Simplicity

Heavily integrating the advertisements into the design, as well as taking a minimalist view to the elements displayed on each page, vastly reduced the complexity of the site’s experience.

Imagery drives Radio Milwaukee’s stories as much as the headlines. Since many editors have control over the imagery added to articles, Flipeleven embedded requirements in the admin to ensure image quality, speed, and a consistent user experience.

The Results

Average time on site increased 21%.

>90% positive user feedback, common among these were "it's very clean/uncluttered" and "it loads way faster than the old one".

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