Planet Money for iPhone

  • Interaction design
  • Visual design
  • Strategy

The goal of this project was to create an experience for ardent fans to experience the best of what Planet Money has to offer, deepening their relationship with the program and to provide them with a way to easily tell others about it.

Rapidly prototyping an experience

Because of a sponsorship obligation, we had only 8 weeks to conceive, design, develop and launch the app into the app store. This short runway provided some nice constraints to help the team focus quickly. We knew we needed an audio-centric experience, but beyond that, all options were on the table.

After some initial brainstorming, we focused on some sketches that allowed for an audio-first experience but supplemented the experience with text. We turned these initial sketches into a set of paper prototypes for some hallway usability testing and to gain stakeholder approval.

We tuned the sharpie drawings for a few iterations (and lots of white-out) until we thought they were beginning to feel pretty solid. We then scanned the paper prototype and built a tappable HTML prototype that we shared with two testing groups. The prototype exposed some areas for improvement and validated the direction so we could build with confidence.

Support for Planet Money comes from ...

Planet Money is heard far more than it is seen. We needed a visual design that was consistent with the suite of NPR products but also allowed the personality of the program to shine. Mo Willem's playful character 'Bill' was perfectly suited as an ocassional wingman to help users navigate the content. Typography and button styles are interpretations of existing patterns that were translated specifically for this application.

Blended content stream

The audio-centric river of content easily identifies audio selections and highlights artwork with plenty of breathing room.

Roomy and readable story page

The story page is easy on the eyes with large type and a comfortable line length. The stories can be swiped horizontally for easy browsing and feature intuitive sharing tools and links to content collections.

Simple, intuitive listening

A streamlined audio experience lets you spend more time listening and less time managing a playlist.


We remember which episodes you've heard and offer up options that include selections from your queue or related stories that you have not yet heard.

Sortable river

Instead of fussing around with a paginated archive, the searchable and sortable content river is an easy way to find past episodes and stories.