As the tagline of Spotify goes, the music streaming service app likes to appeal to the masses. After 14 years, the company has risen to be widely regarded as a leader in the stream service, accounting for 47% of music revenues in 2018 and 36% of the market share. With a tried-and-tested user-friendly experience, they now want to expand on engagement with their consumers, creating social capabilities to push the envelope and increase retention for (potential and current) users across the world.
How do we improve the number #1 streaming app?
From user research, I defined the following needs that users had when it came to using music streaming services.
As Spotify consumers desire being able to get to know artists beyond just their music, they typically are exposed this content through other mediums. Such examples are finding seeing artists plug each other on Instagram, getting a behind-the-scene looks on Youtube, or even just reading more about them on their Spotify artist pages.
While listening to music can be a passive activity, the intention behind it matters: People listen to certain types of music in certain types of situations. Whether consciously or not, being able to supplement an environment with sweet jams is important for users.
Sharing music with another individual is a personal exchange, in that people are extending and exposing a part of their personality to another (regardless if the action of sharing is done casually or intimately). By facilitating this sharing experience to be more special, users can feel more fulfilled and excited to share.
In order to push Spotify as an innovative service that understood its own design system and users, I utilized existing UI patterns to create new, but familiar, experiences.
As the leading music streaming app, Spotify wants continue to improve user engagement and retention. In order to do that, they want to expand on their social capabilities and seamlessly integrate a new feature in their app.
Disclaimer: This is a speculative project. I am not affiliated with Spotify.
How do we improve the number #1 music streaming app?
Self-directed, with feedback given from mentor and peers
Aug. - Sep. 2019
01. Research & Analysis
02. Ideate & Define
03. Interaction Design
04. Usability Testing
05. UI Design
Researched the current market and potential users
Created problem spaces and determined how to resolve them
Mapped user's journey and began designing
Evaluated viability of product's features through testing and feedback
Created and implemented brand identity
Purpose: Scoping out the current market and potential users
Process: Market Research, Competitive Analysis, Heuristic Evaluation, Provisional Personas, User Interviews, Empathy Map Insights & Needs, Persona
Since Spotify's app and service is already at the forefront of its industry, uncovering statistics and users' experiences would help determine what area I could improve with a new feature.
By dividing up my market research to digging into three actions that Spotify is used for, I could understand how users currently share and discover music, and use Spotify. Below are some key findings that would guide decisions made in later deliverables.
That feeling when a friend shares a great song with you is *chef's kiss*. Major streaming services offer various ways to share music as they understand music sharing is an important aspect of listening to it, As found in a 2014 study, people consider their musical preferences to be more revealing than their preferences.
Exposure to finding new music is as commonplace as hearing a new bop on your trip to the grocery store. With the inclusion of music streaming service, it becomes even easier to discover new music, as algorithms power song suggestions.
“ ...I would say that about 90 percent of all the music I listen to is discovered on Spotify. They have created such a unique personalized approach to music that I'm really fond of. I'm especially enticed to their personalized “Release Radar” playlist. It puts together all the new bops out there based on my music taste and artists I like, and every Friday it updates and it's hands down the best part of my week. ”
Vicky Sko in GQ's "How to Find New Music" Article
Music discovery and sharing also have become closely intertwined.
Found in a 2016 survey conducted by Northwestern for how respondents discovered music in the past month
Rather than passively following another friend's playlist (which accounts for 17% of the respondents)
Getting a basic understanding of Spotify's current market analytics could keep me informed about key audiences and their trajectory.
- 232 million users, 108 million subscribers to premium (as of June 2019)
- Launched in 2008 solely for music; expanded to podcasts in 2015
- Hybrid playlists (playlists that both center around a genre/period of music and curated for events, activities, etc.) have the highest median follower count
- Spotify is considered the most popular choice amongst millennials for music streaming
- Over half the users are 34 or under
After laying an understanding of the music streaming market, I then conducted a competitive analysis. By scoping out other services' features, I could take these into consideration when designing for Spotify.
Direct competitors are primarily music streaming services. Indirect competitors are services that have streaming capabilities but are primarily known for another feature.
To familiarize myself with Spotify's app, I analyzed a variety of its screens, taking note of the features and designs. This evaluation exposed me Spotify's design patterns and heuristics, which I would need to use to seamlessly integrate the new feature.
Above is a preview of one of the screens evaluated. Please click here if you would like to view the full evaluation.
To hypothesize a target audience and determine potential user goals and pain points, I created provisional personas based on market research and competitive analysis.
To gather contextual data, I carried out interviews with six Spotify premium users, asking them open-ended questions about their experience with listening to music, music sharing, discovery, and Spotify.
“ Reciprocating that exciting feeling (of sharing and discovering new music) between two people is really enjoyable. ”
Participant #1, Shelby, on why she shares music
“ It's like in the movies where the song dictates how a scene should go--music makes me feel the way that I want to feel. ”
Participant #6, Minh, on why he listens to music
These interviews exposed how people feel about music listening, sharing, discovery, and Spotify, and what they are looking to receive when engaging in these activities.
With the interview responses, I organized them through an empathy map to visually see users' actions and reoccurring answers. I then clustered similar answers to form insights.
Next, I determined user needs based on the empathy map's insight clusters. Since there were three insights, I would now be designing multiple features. I wanted to make these features meet user needs so they could enhance users' experience with Spotify.
To build the features to be user-focused, I created a persona named "Kyle", who embodied findings from my interviews. Through Kyle, I could reference my design decisions to him so that I could ensure my choices would be for a primary user.
Purpose: Create actionable problem spaces, ideate solutions, and map out new features
Process: POV + HMW Statements, Individual Brainstorming, Group Brainstorm, Feature Prioritization, App Map
With Kyle to use as reference, I could frame his needs into a user's point of view, then define what questions could be answered through the new features.
I conducted an individual brainstorming session, where I would cycle through each HMW statement 3 times for 3 minutes each and jot down ideas. Doing this rapid brainstorm would provide a pool of solutions that could answer the HMW questions.
Powered by the persuasion of pizza, I invited 4 friends over for a group brainstorm. I explained the project brief, introduced them to the HMW statements, then had them conduct a non-judgmental, collaborative brainstorm session.
From the group brainstorm session, I could compare my own ideas with theirs. Through this, I validated common ideas and considered novel ideas that my friends devised.
Focusing on the HMW statements as the user's goals were already being met, I prioritized them based on impact they would have on users. I then went back to my brainstorm notes and determined the most feasible and unique solutions to meet each statement.
I considered that implementation for certain features might be more difficult, but as Spotify wants to continue being the leading brand, I advocated that these new features should be implemented to continue to set them apart from other services.
Now that I had features to build, I had to figure out where they would best fit in the app. By visualizing the app hierarchy, I could see the layout and group the new features according to the most logical position.
Purpose: Understand user's journey through website
Process: User Flow, Task Flow, Low Fidelity Sketches, High Fidelity Prototype
Based on the new features and Kyle's needs, I created three different user flows to illustrate how Kyle would navigate through each scenario. Through these flows, I could understand the relationship between screens and how to optimize them for the user.
If you would like to view all three user flows, please click here.
I broke up the user flows into specific task flows. Sub-tasks were created as they related to another task, which helped me break them in detail and understand the user's stream of action.
Above is the task flow from Scenario #1. If you would like to view the remainder of task flows, please click here.
Now that I knew what screens I needed to design, I went into sketching. I modeled the new features off of existing design patterns to ensure that they would look as if they were already a part of Spotify's mobile app.
Utilizing the sketches, screenshots of Spotify's app and branding guidelines, I created high-fidelity wireframes, then imported them into Marvel to create a prototype. These could then be used to get feedback from peers, mentors, and users.
Purpose: Test the viability of implemented features through usability and feedback
Process: Usability Tasks, Affinity Map, Revised Wireframes & Prototype
Since these features would be completely new to Spotify, it was important to make sure that they were functional. I conducted think-out-loud, moderated usability testing with six participants.
Each participant was a Spotify premium user, so they would have prior knowledge to navigate through Spotify's app.
Using the task flows, I created six test tasks to uncover any user pain points or successes with the new features.
After synthesizing my data into an affinity map, I identified insights on what users were having difficulty with while testing the new features. This helped inform what updates I could make to better improve the usability of the features.
Using the recommendations from usability testing, I then updated my wireframes and Marvel prototype to finalize the new features.
Purpose: Create documentation for future reference
Process: UI Kit
For reference, I created a UI kit for elements and patterns that I used and built for Spotify's prototype. The kit provides designers and developers a point of reference, and show that the new features fit inside Spotify's existing branding guidelines and patterns.
Since Spotify was already so well-designed, figuring out how to elevate it further was a challenge. Digging into what the primary user's needs helped overcome this challenge, as I could turn these needs into problem spaces to solve. In addition, this project honed my ability to take design patterns and apply them to novel features that would help an app expand and continue to engage its users.
Work with Developers to Sort Out Technical Considerations
Since the new features would require additional upgrades to Spotify's code and algorithm, I would want to work with developers to ensure that as they're implementing the new features, the core functionality and purpose of the features don't diminish.
Monitor User Engagement
In order ensure that the new features are successful in real time, I would want to monitor user engagement with the new features and make any necessary changes to improve their design and functionality.