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UX - Grouping Content by Tag in a bi-directional UI

UX – Grouping Content by Tag in a bi-directional UI


Building slick products is sometimes all innovation, but at times it’s key to ride the waves of other products which are creating and solidifying new norms and recognised UI patterns. 

I was recently at UX Live 2018, and one of the talks inspired me to try out prototyping an interface style that I previously wouldn’t have considered. 

The talk in question was by Michaela Wagoner of Netflix and she was singing the praises of using tagging to surface content in neat and UX-friendly ways. It got me thinking about one of the products I’ve been working on recently, and ultimately made me go back and think again about how I was proposing that we surface some of the application’s content. 

The app in question is a native android application (sorry, I can’t name the client) which is designed primarily to surface content which has been ranked by its suitability for the user. Nothing too revolutionary there – this is basically what Amazon Prime, Spotify and Netflix have been doing for ages. It seems so obvious now that this process can be driven quite easily via content tagging, and as the content in my target app was already going to be tagged for other reasons, it suddenly made so much sense for me to start taking a leaf from Netflix’s book when it comes to presenting ranked content back to users, grouped by tags.

We’re all (some of us anyway) starting to get quite used to the bi-directional UIs being presented in such applications, where we scroll vertically to find a tag that we like (think ‘ New releases’ or ‘Included with Prime’) and are then provided with a horizontal ‘lane’ for each tag grouping, which we can use to browse the content within it. It’s a great pattern, with amazing scope for deeply personalised experiences, especially if the concept is combined with Machine Learning so that some tags can effectively become automatically generated ‘just for you’. 

The MVP product that I’m working on doesn’t require that level of detail just yet – I’m confident that manually tagged content will initially provide enough diversity to create an engaging experience for the audience in question. I’ve already shared my wireframes with the client, who was really up for moving to this kind of UI. I’m really looking forward to getting the prototypes in front of some users for some direct feedback and usability testing to see if the concept can be proven out before we start actual development. 

I’m also quite happy about the fact that I got the idea for switching to this type of idea directly from a speaker at a conference. It’s always great when a talk not only provides with insight into how other players operate, they actually spur you into action by inspiring you to put some of what you’ve seen and learnt directly into practice. So a big thanks to Michaela Wagoner!

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