BBC Story of life app


BBC Earth wanted to celebrate the greatest moments of British wildlife cinematography in partnership with David Attenborough.  The ask was to develop a native iOS and Android application for mobile and tablet.  The experience would enable users to explore and edit 1000’s of clips from archived footage.  The challenge was to modernise the consumption of content and deliver an engaging experience. 


My role was to lead the experience design during the initial concepting phase and begin to define the experience prior to production beginning.


Founded on BBC Earth user research and looking into behavioural trends, I defined 4 key user profiles for the product. We reduced this down to two key target audiences:

Bite sized escapists / Media savvy enthusiasts

The ‘bored at work’ network, seeking productive down time.  Younger under 35’s.


  • Bursts of information

  • Short & light experiences I can turn on and off

  • Discover and share the unseen

Educated and aspirational families: Parents & Families, very active online & highest spend on nature & science interests.


  • Entertaining and educational content 

  • Low cognitive load/Easy to use

  • Short & light experiences I can turn on and off 

  • Something that can be used together or alone

Due to limited time and budget we were not able to validate these mindsets, however the BBC had previously conducted their own researched and confirmed these were aligned.


In collaboration with the Art Director Lionel Agbadou, we researched similar tools alongside inspirational web and app experiences to define 3 approaches to the design.  We specifically looked at navigation, interaction, content display and behavioural conditioning patterns.

Progressive disclosure

At the surface it looks minimal, the more the user explores the more it unfolds in front of them. Only reveal interactions and content at the relevant time.

  • Minimal UI

  • Guided journey

  • Maintained focus/attention

Open discovery

A birds eye view of the experience, users can choose which journey they want to take. Everything is accessible at all times.

  • Clear navigation

  • Accessible

  • Choice

  • Free form

Game mechanic

Incorporate elements of game mechanic into the experience to increase engagement. Unlock content, hint on what is to come, reward behavior and nurture discovery to keep the user returning.

  • Reward/Unlock

  • Engagement over time

  • Controls

  • Triggers

The decision was made to incorporate a game mechanic with a progressive disclosure design approach.


Once we had a clear idea on the target audience and design approach, I began to conceptualise the product and create user journeys.  I create multiple flows of how the app could work, moving between sections of the experience and exploring different ways to create a story.

Below are examples of some of the wireframes and flows I created, specifically showing the create a story process


I created a number of high fidelity prototypes in Pixate, using the designs provided by the creative team.  This helped us to explore and test discoverability, interactions and transitions.  Below are some videos of the early explorations we did.


  • Award winning app

Polly Thompson