The Making of a Podcast App: User research

When creating a product, it’s important to find out what users actually want from your product and what products already exist in the market. As a podcast listener I already have a few pain points I’m aware of: 

  1. Why is it so difficult to switch between episodes while I’m driving?
  2. Why is this “Unplayed” list the first thing I see when I open the app?
  3. And what is “Featured” for?

I hope to find pain points other users experience through my user research.


Going into my research, I already had a few assumptions:

  1. Most mobile podcast listeners are listening on Apple devices because they have a native podcast app ready to use
  2. Most podcast listeners are driving, or doing other tasks while listening
  3. A lot of people find new podcasts by talking with friends
  4. The “Featured” section of Apple’s Podcasts is not used frequently

Conducting the Research:

Before beginning my research I put together a 1 page research plan. This gave my research structure and made sure I was staying true to the goals of my research.

To question users I sent out a survey and conducted interviews. Luckily, a lot of my friends and co-workers also listen to podcasts so it was quite easy to find people to interview. Also, thanks to the Internet, it’s quite easy to get a decent sample size for a survey.

I received over 50 responses to my survey and conducted 6 in-person interviews.

Results of Research:

From Survey:

  • At least 78% of podcast listeners are multitasking: listening while doing other tasks (commuting, chores, etc)
  • 89% of people talk about podcasts with others
  • 85% of people find new podcasts to listen to by word of mouth
  • The least used areas of Apple’s Podcasts is the “Featured” section
  • Only 16% of listeners have donated to a podcast channel

From Interviews:

  • Everyone loves the +/- 15 second button
  • People who listen while driving download episodes they want to listen to before starting the drive
  • If it was easier, users might be more willing to donate to a podcast channel

This data leads me to conclude that users are typically doing other tasks while listening to podcasts. This means the player needs to be easy to access and use while on-the-go. Also, most listeners find new podcasts by talking with other people. Therefore, a social aspect might help users find new channels to subscribe to. Lastly, very few podcast listeners actually donate to the channels they subscribe to, but express an interest in doing so if it were an easy process to do.

Competitive Analysis:

When creating a new product it’s important to understand not only what the user wants, but also what’s currently available on the market. 78% of podcast listeners are listening on Apple’s Podcasts. So of course I included Apple’s Podcasts in this analysis. I also included Podcast & Radio Addict, the top free podcast app in the Android Google Play store, and Spotify. Many users of Spotify listen on their phones/ while commuting. Also, Spotify features social sharing that helps their users to discover new music. Many of these are ideas I wish to include in my app.


Thanks to the research, I have a much better understanding of what users are actually looking for in their podcast app. Next stop? Making sure I actually understand my users through personas and empathy maps.