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Music listening has become a solitary experience in the streaming era. How do we bring the sharing aspect back to music? How do we connect with others over music?

As part of DesignLab’s capstone project, my brief was to address the challenges in music sharing despite the plethora of music streaming apps available.
Based on user research, I designed a mobile experience focused on discovering and connecting with people of similar music taste outside of one’s existing network.
From there, users can discover new music from others’ listening history, or interact with each other via messaging. The possibilities are limitless.
CLIENT:
DesignLab
MY ROLE:
User Research
User Experience Design
Interaction Design
Interface Design
Usability Testing
TIMELINE:
5 Weeks

RESEARCH

A user centric design process requires empathy research. To gather insights,  I conducted extensive exploratory user research on music sharing, including user surveys, interviews, secondary research etc.

USER SURVEYS

To investigate the problem with social sharing, I surveyed large amounts of users about how they listen and share.
The survey returned a lot of quantitative and qualitative data on people’s attitude towards sharing, and their current sharing behaviour.

Affinity Diagram

One way to make sense of all the qualitative data I gathered from survey and interviews is Affinity Diagraming.

What I find is that people are motivated to share music when it make others happy, and when they can discover new music themselves.

User Persona

The primary persona of this project – Tim – embodies the archetypical traits, struggles and aspirations based on research.

The persona outlines user pain points, and how a user goes about completing a task (user story), which helps me discover design opportunities.

IDEATION

Ideation is what connects research with solution. I used a few ideation techniques: How Might We statements help to frame the problem, while Crazy 8 is good for quickly generating visual solutions. Finally, the storyboard sums up user pains and how the solution might address the pains with a compelling narrative.

How Might We (HMW)

A well established techique for user centric design, How Might We (HMW) statements frames the problem in a way that would lead to potential solutions.

The winning HMW statement here is “How might we show how much people have in common through music?”. This will be the basis for ideating a design solution.

Crazy 8

Crazy 8 is a ideation exercise for quickly generating ideas. I started with A3 paper folded 3 times to rapidly sketch ideas that address the above HMW statements in the 8 squares.

I ended up with 40 ideas, and chose a few good ones for next stage of ideation.

Storyboard

The storyboard tells the story of a problem and potential solutions for it in a visually compelling format and logically coherent manner.

It’s a great way to present design solutions, as well as get stakeholder buy-in. After all, we remember stories and not presentation slides.

Wireframing

With the solution concept and user stories, I had enough material to sketch out the app interface with low-fidelity wireframes.

Keeping designs to a minimum, the purpose of low fidelity wireframes is to determine the flow and interaction before adding visual details to the screens.

DESIGN

With a strong concept and low fidelity wireframes, I moved on to interface design of the app. The design challenge in this phase was to use a visual metaphor to tranform raw listening data in a personal yet engaging format. The solution is a color coded taste profile that provides quick visual guidance on simiarities between two people.

High Fidelity User Interface Design

TEST & ITERATE

Design is never done. A usable design needs to be tested before releasing it to the wild. Through several rounds of usability testing, I spotted discrepancies between designed path and users’ desired path, so I iterated on the designs to address these discrepancies.

CONCLUSION

Throughout the process, there are many occasions when users ask for a specific feature, or ask for the product to behave in a specific way. For example,  many users have imagined that the solution is a platform agnostic, all in one app for streaming, sharing and messaging.
But great design doesn’t happen when the designer simply ship what people ask for. Great design fills the gap of what people need, and fulfilling what people actually want. Through deep research and critical thinking, I concluded that the real problem here is not all the trouble with copying and pasting the link in various messaging apps; rather, the root problem is a lack of contexts around the music being shared to keep the conversation going.
This insight – specific enough to keep me focused and broad enough to explore many possibilities – allowed for innovative ideas to happen. And that is much closer to an ideal design process: somewhere our imagination truly blossom within the constraints of reality, without losing sight of the big picture.

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