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Yahoo Play

User activation & Growth

2018 - 2019


UX (growth)
Designer- growth and shop
Secondary Research

Tools Used



With the rise of short-form video popularity, Yahoo launched a new entertainment app targeting the younger audience offering premium bite-size content with interactivity and commerce offering.  We saw over 60 percent of our audience was under 35, and we had 27 percent of generation Z users, who were under 24. Considering the fact that our existing Yahoo users are in their mid-thirties, this was a really good sign to acquire younger users to the Yahoo ecosystem.

Yahoo Play app screens

Framing the Right Problem

Even though we saw people were downloading the app but majority of them weren’t completing the sign up and left the app before even trying it even though they took the biggest step of downloading it. This was really a matter of concern. Our second problem was, our user retention was very poor.
To find solutions to the problem, the company arranged an internal hackathon where 6 teams consisting of designers and engineers competed to find solutions to the problems (can you guess, who won the hackathon?) As the first step, we prioritized the right problem. We figured before retention, we need to convince users to sign up. If more users sign up, even with low retention, we’ll have more users in total. So we need to fix user activation first and then move to the retention problem.

Activation → Retention

How might we increase user sign-ups and have them come back to our app?

Pain points in Exisiting onboarding

Yahoo Play’s existing onboarding looked like this…

Problems with it

  • These dancing people on the very first screen don’t exactly tell what this app is about
  • It doesn’t engage the user
  • It doesn’t give any clear reason to users why they should sign up
  • When new users land on the home screen after signing up, they barely have a clue what these titles mean and what to do or expect
  • Getting rewarded while simply consuming the content is the biggest selling point of this app, but the users have no clue what the reward is and how to get it
  • Existing Yahoo sign up flow is too complicated, long, and frustrating


Engage users immediately. Bring them to content fast and inform the perks of using the app. Give them reasons to sign up.


The "hack"

We built a functional version of this in 2 days for the hack. In the proposed onboarding, we brought the value prop of the app right on the first screen. The biggest selling point of this app is users can earn points while engaging with the content and then they can use those points to shop at the built-in shop for real rewards. We gave users a taste of this whole workflow without using a boring tutorial. We showed them they can get a reward if they “play along”, once they proceed, they can watch a short content and take part in a quiz, just like they would do in the app after signing up. Once they play with the content they immediately earn points giving them a reason to sign up to claim those points to get the reward.

User flow from left to right

Me presenting the solution to the audience and judges of the hackathon

Final design

We took a few weeks to refine the user flow and the visual design. We worked with the copywriter to further polish our design. I worked with my animator colleague to bring some more life to the onboarding. We used motion to bring a playful happy feeling for the users and influence users’ actions. The whole user flow was designed to give users the quickest possible tour around the app and introduce them to all the major features, and all that without having to add a literal tutorial workflow.
1. User opens the app and sees a prompt to play along to get their first reward. We don’t ask them to sign up yet.
2. If they tap the CTA, they watch one of the contents from the app followed by an interactive quiz, similar to inside content.
3. User receives 50 points for finishing the quiz. At this stage, the user has a reason to sign up to redeem the reward.
4. If the user proceeds to claim the reward, they need to sign up. (P.S: Sign-up flow is standard Yahoo sign-up flow controlled by a different team)
5. Upon completion of the sign-up, the user goes to the main content page and sees a notification prompting them to use the points.

6. If the user decides to use the points, they are taken to the shop where they can redeem them for real rewards. 


Some stats improved, but completion of sign-up didn’t improve much. The significant thing here is, sign-up attempts improved by 16%, but completion of sign-up only increased by 1%. Yahoo’s sign-up flow was already in discussion for being too long and frustrating and that eventually barred us from acquiring more users for this product.

Take Away

  • Brainstorming with engineers can be magical. Not only we can get fresh “non-designer” perspectives and learn about technical pros and cons right at the brainstorming phase, but they also learn to appreciate designers and what we do as they get familiar with the design process closely.

  • Yahoo properties needed a better sign-up flow, all our properties were getting hurt by this (luckily a separate team had been working on that).

  • For retention, we needed better content. The core mechanics of the app and business model needed major rethinking. All of these were later addressed when the app was shut down.

Other Contribution

Besides the onboarding flow, I also worked on the “Invite friends” feature of the Yahoo Play app.  Some of the marketing materials of the app were also designed by me.

Inviter Flow
Invitee Flow
Promotional Materials