At the intersection of social sciences and design

Prismatic for iOS

Prismatic iOS

We learned a lot from preview, and were ready to take what we learned and give a major update to the app that had been launched over a year ago. We had a couple goals we were trying to achieve with this new release: make it more fun, social and easier to find things. 

There were also a couple key lessons we learned from preview:

  • Explains need to be clearer
  • Activity needed to be clearer (and linear, since grid wasn’t working)
  • Profile needed to be clearer (wasn't clear to people what was showing up - crucial since needed to make some of the actions public)
  • Learned a lot about onboarding as well: goals


  • spent a ton of time on onboarding
  • onboarding goals doc:
  • Encourage connecting a social account. Limitation: also 30 sec until results come back - how do we take care of that? 
  • feedbuilder? decided to take out because it made onboarding more complicated than it needed to be.

Gallery as an engaging and fun way to add topics -> so much in fact, people spend ~2min.

  • manual curation of categories: analysis on what they are, and also which topics on prismatic are good by looking @ topic score
  • login schematic
  • ways to invite friends and whatnot

Other concepts we played around with

  • Persona as someone you resonate with
  • Getting you to connect a social account
  • etc


We considered many different types of profile. For us, it wasn't enough to follow something, but you have a spectrum of interests. How much do you like something & how influential are you in it? On our old website, we had interest bubbles. How could we communicate sense of connection on iOS? In the end, wanted to make it really clear what was happening in profile; so simply top interest gallery, recently interacted with and profile header.

Topic Cards

Topics are the core of Prismatic. We thought a lot about how we could communicate more about what a topic entails without having to show too much. Went through different variations.


Explains is a concept we introduced in order to help you understand why a story is there. We found there was some confusion with the prior model, and some things that were missing. We took out some of the serendipity by only showing one topic. Wanted to bring that back and use stories as a way to help you explore topics. Changed to "shared in ..." and sometimes added a second if there was a threshold. Also introduced a Trending explain.

[look @ explains doc]

Another concept we explored is explains for topic suggestions. Wanted to better explain why you were seeing something in the first place. A transfer of fault when you get a strange recommendation from Prismatic to something else.

Another way we wanted to bring back some of the discovery of old web so we added related topic cards at the bottom of fullview. Encourage discussion and people connecting, so we added 'top comment' slot on fullview and then a start discussion button at the bottom.

- conundrum -> still a lot to be done there
- people were sharing out links; don’t think that is helpful to build sense of community. want to be more than a news reader. how do we harness behavior we know people are already doing as a way to add to conversation.
- decided to combine sort of like instagram 
- still a lot to do here

The definition of a community entails you have influence over a community just like this group has influence over you. The preview app had 

- needed to simplify -> community ones were still sort of confusing.
- come up with all the rules -> what happens in each case, how many lines of text, how often should we roll up for emails/push notifications