Building a Better Paywall


The old paywall

Boomerang is a paid cartoon streaming service. Want to watch premium toons? All roads led to this blue paywall.

It was unpredictable. It could be triggered by a show card or cartoon. And it was imposing, leading with a hardball question: Which plan do you want?

Design and learn

To resolve, I reframed paywall as a conversation (not a single screen). The new paywall would be:

  • predictable. For one, I placed lock icons on premium content to remove the element of surprise.
  • triggered at moment of greatest want — when a visitor tried to play a locked cartoon.
  • aware of visitor intent. Want to start watching? Yes or no?


I prototyped testable solutions. Within days, I was able to validate the new design.

First, on mobile:

Then on 10-foot — tvOS, Roku, FireTV):


We confirmed:

  • Visitors forget that they’re in preview mode, expecting everything to be playable. The micro-banner is a strong visual cue. It staves off disappointment.
  • Visitors connect emotionally with episode thumbnails.

8 Ball Bunny, Apes of Wrath — I remember both of those shows and it brings a smile to my face (laughs).

It was evident, the episode thumbnail is the trial-starter.

I would start a 7-day trial, then watch that episode of Bugs Bunny that I wanted to watch.

What’s next?

With Apptimize, we’ll A/B test text and placement variants (micro-banner, slideup).

I’ll define adjacent strategies for preview and sign up. These are tied to paywall. Wanting a free trial is easy. Signing up for one — a steep climb.