While our partners at Opoloo were translating the visual branding and iterating alongside us, our main focus was ensuring that the client’s reputation as a technical industry leader was maintained, even for users on lower-end devices. As the app’s intended purpose was the delivery of live, high-quality video and audio, we knew the app would live or die on its ability to deliver these across all devices.
Initially we had Quality Assurance professionals run tests manually across a myriad of different devices, before also creating automated scripts to test the main streaming use cases and quality of service. It was agreed that, above any other acceptance criteria, we had to ensure that the app could handle smooth and seamless 2500 kbps video streaming without a hitch. Each live performance during this period was taken as our opportunity to test and demonstrate the capability of the work in progress. Being surrounded by smartphones, tablets and TVs all playing a high-quality live stream in glorious Dolby 5.1 surround was an exhilarating experience.
Although we’d been aware of the orchestra’s dedicated fanbase, it was only after being surrounded by the music and seeing the infectious excitement of live performances ourselves that we truly understood their passion and love for the orchestra’s work. Knowing that our work would bring this passion to a new, wide audience, as well giving greater access to the dedicated, local fanbase, served as even greater motivation.
The Chromecast was newly released at the time and served as a good avenue to engage this local audience who might not be able to attend live performances. A thumb-sized media device, the Chromecast plugs into the HDMI port of any TV and allows for the streaming content sent from a phone or tablet. In combination with the app, this would allow both international and local fans who may not be able to attend in person to view the high-quality video and audio of a live performance in the comfort of their own home. While not quite the same as a concert hall experience, Chromecasting live performances to your 50” TV screen with friends and a bottle of wine is another wonderful way to experience the performance!
Exploring the back-catalogue
Novoda works in sprints of two weeks and regular Agile planning helps us prioritise our work efforts accordingly. One of the challenges to overcome that this rapid iteration process highlighted was how to easily browse and filter the orchestra’s archive of over 300 video performances. A fantastic back-catalogue of content is no good if it is hopelessly buried within a bad information hierarchy.
In addition, we quickly discovered that not all users would be using the back-catalogue in the same way. While some might be subscribing to the service as huge fans of a particular composer, others might be looking for recommendations, or streams within a specific genre. The app had to cater for a range of user preferences without alienating any of them.
After a number of iterations, we found the best solution was to give the user the ability to filter the whole archive by Composers, Conductors, Genres, Epochs and Seasons. This ensures that any concert can be retrieved by a user with just 3 taps on the screen—a simple and accessible approach that caters to most usage patterns.