Discovery Communications


My Role
  • Creative Direction
  • UX Strategy
  • Product Design
  • Motion Design

Inspiring life-long learning is a content discovery site dedicated to inspiring the curiosity of life-long learners. This product was incubated within an Discovery’s innovation team of which I was the design director. I stewarded this project from conception to launch. Through the course of the project, I wore many hats, actively managing the front-end development team while leading the product design through UI/UX.

The product was successfully launched in 2014 and would go on to receive 20 million visitors a month and raise $6.5M in funding to be spun out as its own entity.

The Beginning

Democratizing Access to Learning

In the beginning, Curiosity began as an idea to address the challenges of finding the right digital learning content online.  The field of edTech was booming with $1B of VC investment in 2012, and with it came a vast market of content providers.

But there wasn’t a good way to navigate this fragmented market. And so the original idea was to design a specific search engine for education.

Original Pitch Slides

Filtering the Signal from the Noise

As we iterated on Curiosity, we discovered that just getting good search results wasn’t enough and that it needed to be supplemented with features that would help support the learner’s journey, so we introduced the concepts of learning paths and queues.

Early Designs

Over the course of the first year, I would iterate many times on the experience design. In total, there were some 12 different designs that were produced as part of the exploration and refinement process.

The Audience

Passive vs Active Learners

The original concept was premised on the idea that users knew what they wanted to learn, that they had a high motivation for learning a specific topic.

Serendipitously, after adding some popular free YouTube channels such as the vlog brothers, AsapScience, Vsauce, among others into our database, we discovered that the stickiness of the experience came not from search but rather from delivering this type of short-form, fun but educational video content.

This verified our findings from user research which was that people would use the site if they had something specific they wanted to learn, but more times than not, they didn’t. In other words, 80% of our users were passive learners vs active ones, and this would inspire the next iteration of the product to enable content discovery and more entertaining short-form content.

Content Discovery Platform

We honed the experience around finding the best video content for learning, which meant more curated playlists and edutainment.

Product Design

At the time of launch, the site had aggregated over 100,000 videos from across the web, and we organized it into a data model that would power both faceted search and recommendations based on similarity.