www.plex.tv Research

Customer Goal

I want to learn more about Plex and sign up to use it.


Lead Researcher (solo)

Key Deliverables

  • Study plan (including goals, methods and tasks)
  • Implementation in remote research tools
  • Bugs/issues in github
  • Study report (including video clips)
  • Discussions with stakeholders


  • Changes to layout and messaging reduced confusion and increased memorability of learned content in iterative study
  • Increased click-throughs from the Home page
  • Small increase in sign-ups


When the Marketing team requested my time with their bi-yearly site redesign, I proposed a study plan that quickly moved from an online, open card sort, to a tree test of the navigation, to testing initial messaging, to then a couple iterations of testing the new site itself prior to launch. The team had already created concept mockups, so the card sort was a bit of a sanity check to see if participants sorted statements such as, “Find a link to download Plex onto my phone,” into similar groups that reflected the initial navigation design. Many of the differences were accounted for in a design change.

Unfortunately, the launch schedule was pulled in and the team decided to forego the tree test of the navigation and move to the messaging portion. I worked with the copy writers on iterating a few different versions of the text on the Home screen that describes what Plex is, and then use a combination of a survey tool and the online user testing tool to quickly iterate through 5 different versions with about 40 people each and arrive at something to use in the first test of the pre-launch site itself. The messaging is particularly challenging because the product itself doesn’t lend itself to immediate understanding based on what a broad audience understands (e.g., making comparisons with Plex to other services that are actually not similar). I then moved on to performing a short series of iterative usability testing on the site, working with the designer to make changes as needed between.

Time permitting, I would write up at least a brief executive summary of each study and iteration, Moving quickly, it often meant foregoing a typical thorough report and instead focusing on the key takeaways, a healthy amount of quotes from participants, and some video clips (or charts in the case of the card sort or surveys). These proved plenty sufficient as improvements to the design were made along the way based on the deliverables and ensuing discussions.

Lessons Learned/Constraints

  • Providing a clear explanation with few words and images of a client-server product to new users, especially those that are outside of the key technical demographic, is just plain hard to do
  • People are very value-conscious (not necessarily pricing alone), in that they want to understand at a glance or two what they get for free vs paid – and if something is free, then they need to understand why they’d move from free to a paid tier
  • Time to market constrained the number of iterations of the site and the research, and the research had some constraints around targeting participants

Additional Context

The company was adding more products/features to interest a different demographic that was less technical, but, with only one marketing site (that also served as a login gateway for existing users into a web-based client), was straddling the existing client-server product, highlighting an important feature of Live TV and DVR, and attempting to attract a new type of user by adding free content that did NOT require the client-server to enjoy. There was no perfect site design given the constraints, so it was always going to be a matter of making it as good as possible through iteration before launch, and after.