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Move over, Pornhub: This new site rethinks the UX of porn

Is audio the future of erotica? The cofounder of Quinn, a sound-based site that launches today, thinks so.

Move over, Pornhub: This new site rethinks the UX of porn
[Source Image: dansafee/Blendswap (microphone)]

For an industry that’s well known for the money shot, porn newcomer Quinn is putting its chips on an audio platform. The startup, which beta-launched in April and launched its redesigned site today, is looking to break through with its new audio-only porn platform and shift the brand away from the visual-reliant user experience the industry is known for.

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But can a porn company thrive when there’s nothing to see? Caroline Spiegel, who left Stanford in her senior year to cofound Quinn, thinks so. From her experience, the industry relies too heavily on visual content—to the detriment of users. She sites one of her competitors, Pornhub, as an example. “There’s almost no part of the screen that isn’t filled with content,” says Spiegel, and “almost all the content is animated.” She compared the overstimulation she experienced to being in a supermarket with lots of options. You walk away wondering what you came in for and unsure of what you ended up buying.

[Image: courtesy Quinn]

Spiegel saw Quinn as an answer to that “sense of lost control.” Overall, the user experience of the site is streamlined, and in contrast to a site like Pornhub, the majority of the real estate on the site is black negative space. In fact, outside of cover images for audio stories, there’s no visual content on the site at all. Spiegel is a “fan” of audio erotica because it “gets across the intangibles of porn—the flirting; the intimacy.” And she sees the sparse user interface of the site as an execution of their philosophy that “porn can be a more chilled out experience.”

Quinn wants to bring audio porn into the mainstream, but it’s not the only player in this space. According to Forbes, audio porn startups have collectively accrued over $8 million in funding over the past year.

So is audio porn’s next UX?

[Image: courtesy Quinn]

“Arousal and comprehension are not solely derived from visual stimulus,” says body image advocate and sex educator Laura Delarato, when I asked her if there’s space in the industry for audio porn. “I’m not surprised that there is a market and interest for audio erotica, especially one where users can generate their own content and partake in their own voyeurism knowing that others might listen to their voice and story.”

Spiegel feels that what separates Quinn from other audio porn companies out there, like subscription-based Dipsea, is that the site (which is free to access) is a platform, rather than a content producer. This allows amateurs and professionals alike to upload audio content with the click of a button—and maintain their own feeds that users can follow, like, comment on, and even tip through, with a payment system that will be integrated into the platform later this month. The company may look to establish a revenue model similar to other free platforms eventually, saying in a statement that Quinn is exploring “multiple forms of monetization, including advertising.”

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[Image: courtesy Quinn]

Quinn’s content will be 100% user-generated. For Spiegel, designing a platform with content that’s not produced in-house was an exercise in openness: “We wanted to share more flavors of content, and we weren’t able to share those categories on our own. To let people have their audio, we have to let them have their voice.” She compares the site to Reddit, with the expectation that the community would flag any content that violates their platform’s Community Guidelines. But as we’ve seen on other major platforms, relying on community policing can be murky territory.

“Community policing is a fine idea to a point,” says Delarato, “but we need to take into consideration the variety of interests, kinks, and consent taking place when creating these audio scenes, while adhering to guidelines might still offend even when playing in the boundaries. It becomes a game of whose content is the right content.”

Quinn plans to address potential violations on a case-by-case basis. Right now, flagged content is reviewed by a Quinn employee. If they determine it be in violation of the site’s guidelines, it is removed.

For Spiegel, community—and the connection the site design seeks to build between users and creators—is key to Quinn’s mission. With free access, sparse interface design, and UX that encourages users to engage with the site as they would other social platforms, Quinn is looking to build connections and create a welcoming environment for a broad audience—to prove that porn isn’t just about the looks.

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