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Discovering More Podcasts You’ll Love

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Competing Goals

The development of Otto Radio is driven by two competing goals. The first is to provide a personalized broadcast, based on your interests and tailored to the length of your commute. The second is to help you discover great sources of news and podcasts naturally while you listen.

“It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.” — Jerry Seinfeld

“It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.” — Jerry Seinfeld

How then can we provide a finite broadcast while maximizing the opportunity to discover great sources? This was our challenge.

Here, we’ll talk about our solution to podcast discovery: TryPod.™

The Nature of Stories

To tackle this challenge, we looked at the anatomy of a story.

The inverted pyramid is a metaphor used by journalists and other writers to illustrate how information should be prioritized and structured. It’s a common method for writing news stories and has adaptability to other kinds of writings (e.g., blogs and editorial columns).

The Anatomy of the Journalist’s Inverted Pyramid

The Anatomy of the Journalist’s Inverted Pyramid

The widest part at the top represents the most substantial, interesting, and important information the writer means to convey (the who?, what?, when?, where?, why?, and how?), illustrating that this kind of material should head the article, while the tapering lower portion illustrates that other material should follow in order of diminishing importance.

A General Inverted Pyramid

A General Inverted Pyramid

Other common storytelling approaches include the “anecdotal lead,” in medias res, or leading with a compelling question.

In a sense, they all follow the basic intent of an inverted pyramid: they draw you in as quickly as possible.

Taking Advantage of Story Structure

How then can we take advantage of the inverted pyramid structure?

Our solution is to borrow a common interaction design technique commonly used in newspapers and websites: progressive disclosure.

The principle of progressive disclosure is to make more information available within reach, without overwhelming the user with all the features and possibilities.

The principle of progressive disclosure is to make more information available within reach, without overwhelming the user with all the features and possibilities.

The Result

The inverted pyramid and progressive disclosure make TryPod possible and useful.TryPod takes advantage of the inverted pyramid structure by disclosing the first three (and presumably most noteworthy) minutes of each podcast, giving you the option to dive into more details or to move on to the next story in your broadcast.

TryPod helped me find a great armchair psychology podcast: NPR’s Hidden Brain.

TryPod helped me find a great armchair psychology podcast: NPR’s Hidden Brain.

The end result, we present more episodes in a single broadcast, and give you more opportunities to find podcasts you may just love.