Mode Stories 1.0 designed prior to my engagement, and launched in April 2015. Negative user feedback and internal testing noted performance and legibility problems, and an overly dark, image-dense experience. Analytics revealed users weren't finding interesting content easily.
Prioritize "best of the best," featured content
Greater emphasis on content discovery
Improve performance and legibility
A lighter, more elegant system design
My role was Design Director and Lead IC Designer on the Product team which included VP of Product, VP of Content/Editorial, VP of Design, two project managers from the development team, and a UX designer. We had 3 meetings each week: manage roadmap & sequencing, discuss feature & ux strategy, and design presentation. In the strategy meetings we would brainstorm and whiteboard possible solutions which were then taken into design for additional concept exploration. Final designs were decided by consensus with the full Product team.
Overall app functionality and content hierarchy remained the same, so we opted to mostly skip wireframing and design directly in visuals. Multiple concepts were initially presented for a new system design direction and how to stage the new "Featured" content strategy.
Mode ceased business before the app was released. We were about a month out from having a finished app build. Internal and user testing of our in-progress builds reported a high level of satisfaction, achieved project objectives, and overall app experience. The new design system became the forward path for the Mode platform. I was in the process of reconciling the system towards an improved, optimized experience for desktop and mobile responsive when the company closed.
In hindsight, we may have embraced too much inspiration from Snapchat, re: an immersive story mode which covers the tab bar. This wound up creating complexities and odd edge cases.