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Spotify Case Study

How can we streamline & improve interactions in Spotify?

overview

Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming platforms that offers 30 million songs and has garnered over 100 million active users on both the desktop and mobile versions of the product. This application has become strongly playlist-driven as it consists of over 2 billion playlists, thanks to its many users who create playlist after playlist. Spotify sifts through the metadata of all these playlists to compile even more playlists that are specifically geared towards its users. Playlists include songs that are genre specific, mood dependent, activity reliant, or even environmentally contingent—all filtered under the unique umbrella of a user’s specific musical taste.

problem

Spotify is a great platform which has been built to satisfy the musical cravings of millions. However, certain design features of the Spotify mobile application for iOS users actually impede its users from fully enjoying the music experience it is designed for. Many users are hindered from curating Spotify playlists with ease and efficiency due to the mobile application’s lack of clarity and discoverability in its available interactive features.

spotify mobile header

interviews

In this phase of the process, my group and I created an interview guide for each of the guided interviews. We approached the data collection with fixed, non-leading questions in order to maintain consistency across our interviews, and gain relevant insights. We targeted a broad demographic of students on our college campus. The goal for the interview was to indiscriminately gather personal opinions on each individual’s experience with Spotify and with interacting with the playlist functionalities.

These are some of the questions we asked our interviewees:

  • How long have you been using this music app?
  • Do you use any other music apps other than this one? Which one and why?
  • When is the last time you made a playlist?
  • When is the last time you used your playlist(s)?
  • What kind of playlists do you have?
  • How often do you manage the playlists?
  • Can you tell me about the last time you managed an existing playlist?
  • Can you walk me through how you would create a new playlist?
  • Can you walk me through how you would remove a song from a playlist?

From this important step, one thing I learned was the importance of building a rapport with the interviewees in order to gain honest, unfiltered insights. After collecting insights from our interviews and observations, we were able to gauge the user's needs and user scenarios that we wanted to focus on for the redesign. The main pain points that we chose to tackle in our redesign were the following:

curating a new mix

managing a playlist

UI changes

competitive analysis

After the initial user research and needfinding was complete, we conducted a competitive analysis of major workflows across these three music streaming applications:

amazon music

apple music

soundcloud

We analyzed various within our problem space regarding the core interactions users have with playlists such as creating, managing, re-ordering, listening, etc.

From this competitive analysis, it was valuable to see that no design is perfect. Where one competitor may be stronger, it may have a weaker aspect elsewhere. Analyzing these different platforms was really helpful in driving the redesign.

spotify less good workflow flexibility
amazon music good workflow
spotify less good workflow efficiency
soundcloud good workflow

wireframes

In the next step, I sketched out some basic wireframes that highlighted the changes we wanted to make in the interface design. This step was helpful to rapidly ideate and put our ideas on paper. We then mocked up the wireframes into the corresponding interface design as it would look on the final prototype.

improved deletion flow
improved filter songs flow
curate your mix intermediate step

prototype

After our extensive ideation and analysis, we were able to come up with a final prototype that addressed the pain points we found with the interface in terms of managing playlists. We found that a winning feature of Spotify was how easy it was to browse new music and discover new songs. In our final prototype, we created a new functionality that made it more efficient for users to curate a new mix based on recommendations, catered specifically to each unique user.

spotify design prototype

case study

This case study and redesign was a lengthy process, much longer than summarized in this concatenated post. There were far more design decisions, both trivial and major, that went into this project!

I'd love to chat about the finer details more in depth upon request!

takeaways

The main thing I learned from this project is that no design is perfect! Everything has room for improvement, especially in this word where design is adaptive. It was refreshing to see that various music applications all had their own pitfalls as well as strengths. I think it is crucial to recognize that there are often tradeoffs associated with design decisions, but it is important to keep the users in mind when making those big decisions.

If I had more time for this project, the next step I would take is to conduct user testing as a metric for success. I believe being able to test our prototype on potential users would uncover a lot about where we could further improve. This is because feedback from people is always a great way to understand the users and measure the success of a design.

Overall, for the time we were given to complete this project, I feel my team and I did a great job addressing the pain points we found. I am very proud of the prototype we came up with as it is functional and something we made with the users in mind. While the prototype definitely has room for improvement, I believe we remained user-focused and process-oriented throughout this redesign and case study.

questions

This project was done in 2018, but feel free to reach out to me via email if you'd like to learn more about it!