SiriusXM Thinks Outside the Car

How the satellite radio giant worked with Code and Theory to adapt a new media model for the wireless age.

In early 2013, SiriusXM faced tough competition for listeners’ attention. At the time, streaming music platforms had started to become ubiquitous, Wi-Fi was moving into the car and phones had become a central hub for audio. So the satellite radio service needed to do some listening itself.

The brand came to Code and Theory and posed a challenge: Help us look beyond the in-car experience and make Sirius a more seamless, portable option for music lovers everywhere.

Early on, the team discovered that the project was more than just building an easy-to-use series of apps that would create a more consistent SiriusXM experience across all devices and environments.

It was about creating a sophisticated product that was rooted in SiriusXM content—its fans, its history, and all the nuances of the platform that so many had become accustomed to over the past two decades.


A Changed Landscape

When Sirius launched a national satellite radio service in 2002, the media landscape looked a lot different.

Only a small minority of U.S. homes had broadband Internet. Most people used their cellphones exclusively for making phone calls. And the idea of having Internet in your car seemed impossible.

About a decade later, SiriusXM wanted to take a fresh look at what its subscribers loved about the service, and what they’d like to see changed. So Code and Theory collaborated with the company on designing and executing an ethnographic study in the summer of 2013. In addition to users, the research project also included interviews with Sirius employees at every level.

The feedback and learnings from the study served as the foundation for the entire project.


The Feedback


The data revealed some interesting insights.

Some of the most interesting results related to each user’s digital aptitude—especially the Boomer set. Other learnings focused on people’s patterns of behavior and how they change throughout the day.

For example: Regardless of their loyalty in the car, users increasingly relied on alternatives for audio entertainment on their phones, tablets, and desktops.

In other words, SiriusXM found itself in a situation not unlike HBO, in which the best marketing strategy was to emphasize its quality content. To make that content more accessible, though, it had to make sure the user experience was as seamless as possible.

“The idea was that Sirius is sort of a companion for your everyday life, not just something you listen to in the car,” said Jody Hankinson, group UX director at Code and Theory.



The result was a seamless new experience that lived across all devices and leveraged SiriusXM’s relationships, data, subscriber base and content in powerful new ways:


Hitting the Market

In April 2015, SiriusXM unveiled its newly redesigned interface across the desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

The launch itself represented a major step in the company’s quest to becoming the number one high-quality portable audio service for listeners everywhere.

The reimagined platform bridged the gap between competitors and poised the company to redefine itself for a new era.

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