The Content Strategy of My Car Stereo

The other day I realized that my car stereo presets are a mess. I never press them in any order and I’m constantly trying to feel around for the button I’m looking for without taking my eyes off the road. Then I realized that this is just a content strategy problem. Lucky for me, I happen to be good at solving content strategy problems.

My radio stations were set about 10 years ago when I first moved to Austin. I scanned through all the stations and saved them at random when I landed on something I liked. Then over the years I switched a few things out because I found something I liked better or wanted to listen to more. It’s not unlike a lot of websites – many years old in fairly random order with a few extra things people like tacked on.

My current presets fall in this order: Alt. Rock, Top 40, NPR, College Radio, Urban Contemporary and Eclectic. Of course, there’s no real data for what’s the most used content but Urban Contemporary is my favorite for music and the number is worn off the the NPR button. With that I could just say NPR goes first and Urban Contemporary goes second and the rest filter down by personal preference, but that would ignore the user experience of dial.

NPR and College Radio should be paired together because they’re both nonprofit radio stations and there’s a high chance that there will be talk radio on when I switch to them, or some form of unpredictable music. I have to be in a certain mood to switch on either of those stations. Apparently it’s a popular mood for me, but it’s a certain mood. They need to be near each other because when I’m in that mood I’m looking for those two stations.

That said, the new order of my presets is going to be: Urban Contemporary, Alt. Rock, Top 40, Eclectic, College Radio and NPR. It puts my favorite music at the start (the easiest button to find) and my most used at the end (the second easiest button to find with a little reach). It clusters my three main music stations up front, so if a commercial is on the first station I can skip to the second and then the third. In the fourth spot, the Eclectic station is a nice transition before I hop into College Radio. And if I work backwards College Radio is still paired next to NPR and I get a musical transition before I launch into my main music stations.

It feels natural, like a well-thought-out main navigation of a sitemap, and it’ll keep my eyes on the road more since I only have to find the first or the last button. It’s the best kind of content strategy, the kind that makes your everyday life a little better.