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Based on the data collected on the internet, I found that:
Spotify takes 34% of the music streaming market and is the lead of the category.
The US market takes half of the global music industry. Among the listeners in the US, half of them are made up of women aged from 18-34 years old.
Although there are common practices among music apps and video apps, commenting feature is only seen in video apps in the US. However, it's seen in video and music apps in Asian countries.
I worked as a solo researcher and designer with feedback from my mentor. At the outset of the project, I didn’t have a clear picture of what the industry looked like and what listeners would expect from the app. I kicked off the project by making a research plan and assumptions about features, including three methodologies to understand the industry and users. The methods are Secondary/Market Research, Competitor Analysis, and User Interview (click to see the full report).
Currently, Spotify is one of the most popular audio streaming and media services providers on the market. It has music and podcast categories, allowing users to listen to, collect and share to other platforms. The current version provides some basic share, follow/unfollow, like/dislike, collaborative play mode, etc., options. However, it doesn't give any option for users to generate content. Worth mentioning, most audio/music stream in the US doesn't have a rating/review option, but all video-sharing apps do. Meanwhile, almost all audio/music streaming apps in Asia do offer review options within apps. Social comment could gain Spotify more focus in the social spectrum and for businesses to consider.
It's always difficult to fully understand the business goals from the outside, especially for a young designer like me standing from a distance. Being able to speak to listeners and collect feedback helped me understand the industry; however, if I could connect with stakeholders, it would help me expand the narrative beyond just the features.
There is no such thing as too much research or testing. I would do more research and interview more people even before I began to brainstorm ideas. I would also try to reach out to people who have posted their frustration or suggestions on the Spotify forum to get their opinions before landing my eye on these solutions.
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I Would Do Differently...
How Might We Help Users Achieve...?
I wanted to find more ways to help Catherine achieve her goals of navigating in Spotify quickly and protecting online privacy while sharing her love for songs, so I went further to ask more questions about her real needs and where she would have a hard time.
After discussing with mentors and getting feedback from peers, I decided to proceed with the user's essential needs.
Interview and Findings
After gaining fundamental insight into the industry, I decided to conduct user interviews to address listeners' motivation and frustration. I recruited 4 users aged 22 to 38 years old and spent 30 minutes with each by asking questions about their music tastes, listening habits, motivations, and pain points. In particular, I focused on their motivation and intention. Check out the full Interview Findings.
“How might we create a solution that protects listeners' privacy to make them feel safe and comfortable?”
After I figured out how Catherine would like to interact with the product, I started working on a user flow to get a bird's eye view of the project and to make sure I did not miss anything. Meanwhile, since I had limited time to make a decision, I decided to implement the most direct solution - making the feature accessible.
Mindful design validates users’ needs and cares for their motivation. Designing in the “moments” rather than “flows” provides approachable and flexible solutions to endorse users’ intentions and goals.
As it was for adding features, UI was existing already and re-designing wasn't in my spectrum, so I decided to skip Low-Fi sketches, instead, went into the mid-fidelity phase and got my assumptions tested quickly.
Fail Fast, Learn Faster
Initially, I planned to spend 12-20 minutes on each to test 3-4 people. After speaking with the first two persons, I decided to call off the testing because I found that testing the meaningness or intuitiveness of icons and logic was useless without context and colored & functional features. People couldn’t complete a task due to the lacking of visual indication. However, I did receive a few insightful feedback from the first two testings. In case you want to read the full report, here is the Mid-Fi Test Finding Full Report.
Iterate & Repeat
After refining the first version of the hi-fi wireframes, I went on a mission to recruit another 6 listeners for the second round of usability testing. Each went for 15-20 minutes long. I was able to get more feedback from my users and made an Affinity Map to conclude what I had found. Furthermore, I reworked the theme and wording, in order to make new features work seamlessly with the existing design and possible future projects.
High Fidelity Wireframes
I overcame the difficulty of lacking time and finished high-fidelity wireframes ahead of my schedule. After implementing the findings I learned from listeners, I could change those crucial parts and make the features more intuitive.
Users can easily identify what comments they have given and which ones are posted anonymously.
Introduce New Features
Improved contrast and readability for the onboarding page. Made it easy for users to glance through.
Commenting icons on the playlist and song info page provided users easy access to the feature.
Set up space for test input and toggle. New look for comment input to improve legibility.
After multiple iterations and testing, I decided to make the solutions align with Spotify's mission and connect in a playful way. I added two main features in addition to onboarding flow to Spotify, which allow listeners to connect with the community, their friends, and the music itself.
Catherine is a young working professional living in New York City. She enjoys music and loves sharing resources with friends. She is single and sometimes concerned about online privacy.
To understand listeners' needs and frustration rather than solve problems that are being made up, I created a persona based on my research. This helped me to empathize with the end-user on the remaining steps of the design process.
Spotify: Adding Social Features
Feature Improvement On Existing System
Commenting and reviewing features allow listeners to find songs they enjoy and create communities based on interests.
Spotify's mission is clear: "Music for every mood." In the streaming music service field, Spotify is the group lead, and it wants to stay that way. However, there are trillions of songs on Spotify; how can listeners possibly know if a song fits their mood before even listening to it, or share songs they like to a broader audience. I worked on adding "comment" and "share" features to Spotify to improve listeners' experience of the product.
This case study was completed as an independent project during my study at DesignLab, and I am in no way affiliated with Spotify.
May - June 2021
Spotify was heavily focused on a singular user: a person who wants to listen to music at several points in the day for different reasons. As time passed by, Spotify also tried to create a community around music. Take its messaging and "Spotify Wrapped" as examples. "Commenting" and "Sharing comments" could be a deal-breaker for the brand to finally get a step closer to its goal of building a social community.
The Business Opportunities
I added commenting feature, where listeners can read comments and reviews about songs to decide if they would like the style before listening to them.
Listeners can also share comments anonymously without exposing any account information.
Sharing comments directly with friends or downloading as an image or poster are also options.
Spotify offers more than 70 million songs, from record labels and media companies and encompasses countless categories. It's impossible for a listener to listen to thousands of songs to find ones that fit the listener's mood. I decided to add a feature that would help listers share their thoughts while listening and find songs they like more easily. Ultimately, to help Spotify create a community where artists and listeners connect more closely.
Difficult to navigate the Share feature
Listeners couldn't find the share feature because they didn't know scrolling is available.
How to educate new users?
Listeners weren't sure about what the icon meant as there was no onboarding process.
"Why am seeing my profile here?"
Users found the icon extremely confusing as there was no clear indication or guidance on what it does.
"I'd like to track my pets' activities to keep them healthy and happy."
Someone using the app to track pet’s activities can also find tutorial videos in the section (upcoming features). They can choose to start tracking or watching tutorials first.
Leave Comments Anonymously
Leave comments after you listen to a song to help other listeners learn the theme before even listening. Don't want your profile to be seen? One click on the toggle you can make it anonymous.
Added onboarding flow to ensure users know how to navigate the new feature.