A redesign of Spotify's social features, bringing the personal back to music sharing.
A rogue faction of former Rdio users have asked to improve Spotify, particularly in its social features.
This is an exercise of working with an existing product and designing ways to make it better. It is explicitly a speculative project and is focused within the realms of digital strategy, user research, and responsive design.
To investigate the ways that people relate to music and each other, and use those findings to improve the social feature of the product.
Surveys were conducted as a source of primary data from existing Spotify users and non-users alike. The questions focused on why and how people shared music today and in the past. Here is the full document of research findings, or in short:
- 75% of people recalled burning cd's as their primary way of sharing music in the past; 60% of those people claim they do not have a tangible way of sharing music anymore.
- The majority of people claimed that listening to music is a social activity and that it is important for them to share music with friends and family because they want to share the feelings or emotions that it evokes.
- Yet, not a single person surveyed claimed to find new music through people they know.
The research suggests there is a disconnect between the need to share music for emotional and social drivers, yet the technology does not support the act of sharing. So, how can we redefine what it means to share and reignite the act of sharing music through friends?
Spotify's current features are transactional; a user can send a song or playlist to any individual via a third party such as a text, Facebook, Twitter, or email.
I am proposing a feature that brings Spotify to the middle of the equation; a shared playlist. The feature would act as a messaging system, entirely within the Spotify app. Users can share music with a friend, attach a personal message, in turn creating a collaborative and personal playlist over time.
When it came to mapping the user flow and actions of the feature, it only made sense that the form would follow the concept of the sketch above, the idea that is driving the feature. So, the shared inbox is placed at the center of the experience, shared between both parties, and a cyclical flow of receiving, viewing, drafting, and sending music is created.
After establishing the user flow at a high level, I then created wireframes for the key screens. The original format of Spotify was referenced, but not not copied and I took the liberty to change the structure where I saw fit. Although this was just a first draft, it provided a framework moving forward.
IA design decisions were made with 'personal' as the guiding principle. The inbox shows the person's name that sent the music instead of the song title, supporting the idea that people crave human interaction with their music. The personal notes make the user inclined and excited to listen instead of an unknown song title, knowing that a friend took the time to actively share.
Also, within the shared playlist, I wrestled with how the music would be shown. Is the feature music first or message first? And how does that effect the hierarchy of information shown? Back to the design goals again, personal over public. It was clear that the feature was music first but intended to be personal, so the song was moved to the middle of the screen, regardless of who sent it, and the message clearly displayed below it, secondary but still prominent. This shift made the message string act as a collaborative list of music instead of as solely a message thread.
Below is the first prototype of the feature. Feel free to walk through the user flow.
Your Task: Your friend, Andrea, sent you some music. Check it out and listen to the full playlist. You realize your other friend Andrew would love the song 'Shape of You' by Ed Sheeran, go ahead and send that to him too.
Some changes were definitely needed to refine and touch back on the original design goals. One of the biggest changes was to the visual design. Although the colors and fonts were predetermined from Spotify's existing brand, the first iteration was flat and lacked ... something. I went back and added some texture to the background, blurring an image of record player. The feeling, music, and circular motion come through now, all of which were original design goals for the function of the feature. Now the visual design supports the goal of the product and it feels in balance.
Some navigational changes were made as well, making the users' path simpler and more intuitive. A small badge was added to the menu icon in the upper left, indicating new music is waiting.
The choice to bring Spotify to the center of the equation in an attempt to redefine how music is shared not only benefits the users and meets their needs to share the feelings and emotions that music evokes, but it also keeps the brand of Spotify relevant.