People come to Bethel Church from all over the world to experience an encounter, find healing, and to pursue restoration. They come to experience a culture that is unique to Bethel. In 2017, I helped Bethel make those experiences and opportunities available to everyone, everywhere.
I led the design and strategy of Bethel.tv redesign and build for desktop. In 2017 I began the journey with a team of two product designers including myself and two full stack engineers. By the launch of the project the team had grown to a total of eleven people including four additional engineers, one front end developer, a new director for the business unit and a product manager.
Customer insights & ideation
I partnered with our local church pastors and one other product designer to uncover customer insights and translate them into features that addressed user motivations.
Experience strategy & vision
I collaborated with our lead engineer to create a framework and prototypes to share the vision and experience strategy. This helped bring everyone into alignment and drive decision making.
Planning & scope
I worked with my product manager and lead engineer to set goals and helped finalize business rules. This allowed us to prioritize and negotiate features with stakeholders for launch.
Design execution & oversight
I worked very closely with my lead engineer, front end developer, and product designer to execute the design specs. I executed and was responsible for journeys, wireframes and prototypes.
I lead the entire product team from concept to execution. I also presented to my fellow executives, board members and senior church leadership team throughout the entire project lifecycle.
Making encounters available for everyone, everywhere
Since 2008, Bethel.tv has been a Christian television network in the making. We achieved a lot over the years but we were mostly just trying to keep up with growth by creating content. In 2016 we began to notice a decline in subscription purchases and a huge spike in users downgrading to free accounts. This made us start asking a lot of questions.
Our challenge was to help Bethel.tv evolve with customers and create a sustainable model for growth focusing on the experiences and encounters people frequent Bethel for.
Bethel.tv offers exclusive content that can’t be found anywhere else featuring some of the most sought after speakers and worship leaders in the world. The culture and environment that exists across our campuses drives hundreds of thousands of people a year to visit Bethel just to experience an encounter with God. With this in mind, we hoped to make those experiences available to everyone, everywhere.
Fast & cheap
Because of obvious challenges we were having retaining paying customers, we were tasked to redesign, rebuild and relaunch a completely new experience for Bethel.tv.
This was a huge undertaking considering we only had four people when we started this project. As active users of our own product we were all excited for the change and up for the challenge.
Architecting a prehistoric monster
Our existing platform allowed users to purchase a subscription that included access to historical content that existed one month prior to the beginning of a user’s subscription. A user would then be able to purchase any additional content that they didn't already have access to and grow their video library.
A few additional options for users were the ability to purchase individual courses and conferences to watch live. We were determined to simplify our pricing options and business model.
Many of our speakers and content creators depend on the income they make from individual course sales so we wanted to find a way to keep that content and make it available for individual sale.
This was the birth of Bethel.tv Marketplace. We now had a subscription product (Bethel.tv) and a transaction based e-commerce store for VOD content (Bethel.tv Marketplace).
Because courses had been rebuilt a few years back we decided to leave it as it was and just make some minor modifications to the UI.
We have been commisioned to empower and release people into their God-given destiny. Bethel.tv now allows us to do that at scale helping us fulfill our mission.
Kris Vallotton, Senior Assiociate Leader Bethel
We conducted customer research and feedback loops to help us define the launch version of the product. This is what we found.
Watch weekly, watch live
Users expect to easily access weekly sermons and live streamed services.
Staying in the know
Users need to know when the next event or service is happening and who will be speaking.
Bringing church into the home
Users want to easily find the latest sermon or worship set since some users rely on Bethel.tv to be their home church.
Finding what I want to watch
Users want to filter content by topic of interest or general category.
Introducing Bethel.tv 2.0
Bethel.tv is a subscription based live and on-demand video streaming service. Subscribers now have a front row seat to all that God is doing at Bethel.
Browse by topic
Users can easily navigate through a decade of church services and resources by browsing topics like: Prophetic, Healing, Marriage, Parenting, and more.
Dive deep into classes
Users can jump into courses ranging from theology to personal growth, to business, and much more with Bethel TV Classes.
Watch your favorite speakers live
Users can browse the schedule for upcoming events, classes, and services.
Our vision for Bethel.tv was to allow users to have an engaging and immersive experience with and through Bethel Church online just as if they were on campus visiting.
People come to Bethel Church from all over the world just to experience an encounter, to find healing, or to pursue restoration. They come to experience a culture that is unique to Bethel. We want to make those experiences and opportunities available to everyone, everywhere.
How we got there
Exploring, playing and exploring some more
The biggest challenge I faced throughout this project was balancing an aggressive timeline while building the team that would help meet the timeline. Since the project was started out of immediate need, we were already a few months into the project before we had a complete base team.
Wearing several hats during this project quickly became noticeably challenging for me as well. Managing the discovery, execution, architecture, the entire team as well as communicating strategy and design to stakeholders definitely had its learning moments.
Early on in the project I observed a pattern developing between my team and stakeholders when it came to feedback. I invested the time into developing a process for clear and concise feedback from all stakeholders, one feature at a time. Instead of sitting down with the executive team and walking through several pages of recent work, we began sending out several small features for review allowing us to consistently have approved features to move forward with.
This was one of the largest projects most people on my team had ever worked on so there was a lot of learning involved as well as a lot of strength finding. Many people realized what they were truly good at and they began to focus on that one thing allowing them to stay engaged and move faster.
We ran and continue to run many formal and informal feedback loops and user testing sessions with our users. Our mission is to bring real encounters and experiences online to everyone, everywhere and we plan to iterate until we get it right.
What I learned
We have a lot to learn and a long way to go
One of our principles at Bethel is Excellence, although a very vague principle, the obvious is implied. Do what you do the very best you can do it.
Before working for a church, I had only worked in agency and startup environments which celebrated trying new things that might be very messy only to find the balance between agility and excellence. I went into this project with my version of “excellence” in mind and that alone put me in a very interesting spot.
Communicating from my understanding of excellence didnt always align with the organization’s principle of excellence making it difficult to get buy-in from stakeholders and leaders.
One thing I would have done differently is walk stakeholders through my approach when it comes to product design and strategy before we began the project.
Launching is only the beginning
I am often asked if I am proud of Bethel.tv and my response is usually something like, I am very proud of the team that worked so hard on this project and we still ave a lot of work to do.
My team spent a lot of late nights working on this project. They are all very passionate about Bethel and believe in the work the organization is doing around the world. I am so grateful I got to work with each and every one of them.
As far as where we are now, we have a lot of work to do. Our users are constantly reaching out and providing feedback to help make their experience better.