Crunchyroll is a popular streaming app that specializes in anime and popular Asian drama series. In 2017, the app surpassed over one million subscribers, making it the prime location for new anime series and simulcasts across the globe.
Despite its popularity, the website and app itself hasn't seen a major revamp in some time. With other services such as Netflix and Hulu recently overhauling their apps, Crunchyroll is looking increasingly dated. Additionally, the user interface itself is slightly prohibitive, making it difficult to catch up to current or new episodes. Crunchyroll is also catered to the hardcore anime fan, making it difficult for casual fans or newcomers to seek recommendations based on the shows they have seen.
Objective: Revamp Crunchyroll's application and website to be more intuitive, easier to navigate, and cater to new and hardcore anime fans alike.
THE CURRENT APP
Two screenshots of the old iPad app can be seen above. The left image is the Anime page, which, ironically is the first page opened when the app launches, not the "Home" tab. The main issue here is there is a lot of content to take in. There are a lot of options, but there isn't immediate access to what you are currently watching or new recommendations. Further, there is no way to tell what any of these series are about, or how they relate to your interests.
The screenshot on the right is the current Show page. There's the option to "Start" or "Add to Queue." The "Start" button, obviously starts the show, but from Episode 1. The biggest inconvenience here is the left side with the episodes: you need to scroll to where you left off, and with series that have over 100 episodes, this can be a real time waster. With series with a higher episode count, there is an option to view by "Newest" or "Oldest," but that can still be an inconvenience if you are midway through a series. There is also no option to organize by Season. To easily pick up where you left off in a series, you need to go to the Home tab.
My main takeaway from my initial research into this app is that some of these essential functions are there, just not where they need to be. Your queue should be one of the first things you see when you open the app, like Netflix. It's also inconvenient to open the show page to watch the latest episode, but scroll endlessly until you land upon the one you are currently up to.
When approaching the redesign, I took streaming apps such as Netflix and Hulu into account: What do you see when you first open the app? What do you want to see? What do you first select when you open the app? Why are you even on it to begin with?
When you first open the app for a streaming service, you typically have something in mind that you want to watch. The main section of the Home section is “Your Feed,” which includes what the user is currently watching, as well as the user’s favorite shows. I created a header image for the Home screen, which is now the actual "Home" tab on the nav bar. The header image holds three purposes:
• Feature new episode(s) from series in a user’s queue, starting with the most recently watched.
• Feature latest episode in your queue based on the show the user was most recently watching.
• Promote relevant recommendations based on a user’s view history.
Below the header is an abridged Keep Watching section, with a Favorites tab below it. These are expanded upon in their own designated submenus in the Home section.
The Recommendations tab is a new addition. Taking inspiration from Netflix, and even Spotify, I divided the new section into two parts: Genres and Series. Four of the user’s favorite genres, based on what they watch, are shown at the top to show series with the same genre tag. Then it gets more specific with the series recommendations based on what users have already watched.
For the overall design, I aimed to make it less overwhelming. I added to the margins surrounding the selections, and made them smaller overall while keeping six titles within the viewing area. For the Favorites tab, I set it to three in a row instead of six. With this, larger emphasis is placed on that the user deems their favorites, and as such should be much more limited than the standard view of six titles to a row. I also used some elements from the previous app design, such as the overall layout of the title card, though I changed the background of the title to a light gray instead of white. The bottom icons are also the same, although the Account icon is moved to the top left corner of the app.
With some tidying up, the Crunchyroll app can be a much more intuitive user experience. After testing on some friends who regularly use the app, they felt this new version was cleaner and much easier to use, with the simpler episode selection and revamped home screen being one of the highlights. There’s a lot of potential within the app as it is, but with some slight restructuring and updating, it can thrive.