A UX Redesign of Spotify

Together with two classmates, the past two weeks of my time was dedicated to redesigning the Spotify app.

Spotify is currently one of the most popular music streaming apps right now, featuring a library of 30 million songs and 100 million active users, of which 40% are subscribers.

Being Spotify users ourselves though, we all agreed that Spotify’s interface could be improved as we often have trouble navigating through Spotify’s interface with its huge database of content. A quick market research survey of a pool of 25 Spotify users revealed that a majority of our participants felt the same.

Market survey with 25 Spotify users

Among the variables that we had the ability to tweak, ‘Organisation of Content’ and ‘Social Sharing’ stood out with 40% and 20% consensus respectively.

Research Methods and Findings

The following are some of the other research and planning methods we utilized to single out the exact areas that required improvement, with a heavy emphasis on information architecture.

  • Heuristics Evaluation
  • 1 on 1 Interviews with 6 users (both paid subscribers and free plan users)
  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Affinity Mapping
  • Persona Creation
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Card Sorting
  • Tree Testing
  • User Flow Diagrams

We found that many of our users had problems locating their profile page, and weren’t aware that there was a section in the app for user-to-user messages.

They also had trouble with removing songs from their playlists, and a few of them gave up when tasked to do so.

Users tended to most frequently access their own playlists and library of songs, and most did not use Spotify as their primary way of discovering music.

Sitemap based on the existing structure.
Site map of our suggested revision.

Designing the Interface

With our new information architecture planned, tested, and iterated (multiple times), I started designing the interface by first producing sketches to create a paper prototype, then we tested its functionality and ease-of-use through a usability test with 6 participants.

After another round of iteration based on our results from our paper prototype test, I did the stylized UI designs on Sketch and made it interactive on InVision.

Since most of our users had great things to say about the app’s visual style, we kept it the same as the original in our redesign. The following are the main changes we made to the app:

Existing Menubar vs Revised Menubar

Looking Back, and Forward

Design can always, always be improved — so I can’t say that I’m completely satisfied with the redesign yet. The following are some things that I think might be worthwhile future developments.

My redesign enhances user experience by allows users to navigate through the app better, and increases the social interactivity for user engagement. Spotify’s biggest problem at the moment however, is that its making losses year by year.

In 2015, revenues went up 80% but losses also increased 10%. Because the app makes 90% of its revenues from subscription, while 83.6% of those revenues get paid as royalties to the participating artists, every single freemium user results in a loss for Spotify based on a gross margin basis.

This means that Spotify needs to significantly grow its base of paying users. It’s a stretch to say that my redesign can bring the push that’s needed to convert a free user into a paying one, because most of the users cited concerns about price, which isn’t something that I can address.

Perhaps adding in a crucial new function might be that push, but that requires more in-depth research and brainstorming. I’d love to revisit this project in the future if I had the opportunity or time, but for now, its onwards to the next project.

You can try out the interactive prototype here.

Thanks for reading!