Music Player App Moodie: Rapid Prototyping

During the first week of UXDI program at GA, the class had to create an app (rapid prototype) in three days. The schedule was hectic, but the end result was worth it.

Project Day 1: User Interviews & Synthesizing the Data

On the first day of the class, students were randomly assigned to build one of three different types of apps: a media player app, fitness/health app, and news aggregator. I was assigned to work on a media player app.

User Interviews

The next day, we kicked off our first project with user interviews. First, we came up with several questions to ask during the interviews. To get some idea on people’s experiences with media player apps, I asked some general, open-ended questions.

Here are some of the questions I asked:

Do you use any media player apps such as Youtube, Spotify, or iTunes?
Do you find yourself using one of these more than others? Tell me why.
How do you feel about the app?
Show me how you use the app.
Is there anything you wish your app had?

After the first two interviews, I realized that I had to make some changes to the questions. One participant only used Youtube and nothing else. Another participant used Youtube for videos, iTunes for purchased music, Soundhub for uploading music and streaming. I had to narrow down the questions, so I could gather more focused and relevant responses. I decided to focus on music player apps as most people seemed to have at least one music players in their phones. Then I went to conduct three more user interviews.

Do you use any music player apps such as Spotify, iTunes, or Soundhub?
Do you find yourself using one of these more than others? Tell me why.
How do you feel about the app?
Show me how you use the app.
Which features do you use the most and the least? and why?
Is there anything you wish your app had?

Synthesizing

To discover meaningful patterns and insights from the responses, I copied the responses onto post-its and organized them into four different lists: pains, pleasures, contexts, behaviors. This list was really helpful in capturing user’s behaviors, feelings, and motives. Then I reorganized them by themes using affinity graph and reorganized them again by frequency.

After synthesizing the interviews and analyzing the responses, I could see a pattern and most importantly, come up with a problem statement.

Problem Statement: I like curated playlists and suggested music, but I wish I had more control of what kind of music are introduced to me.

Project Day 2: Sketches and Prototypes

Sketches

The second day of the project began by giving and receiving feedbacks from classmates on our sketches of the app. With all the results from the user interviews in mind, I decided to create a mood radar. This radar has five different moods on them. A user can slide the positions of the moods on the radar graph to adjust the intensity of the emotion. Some of the differences between the mood radar and other genres/mood features in current music apps are that the mood radar gives you many more combination of moods and that it does not limit playlists by genre, giving you more opportunity to try new music.

The 3rd sketch from the left is the Mood Radar

Sketches are a great way of translating ideas into something concrete. This way I can communicate my ideas better and even discover new insights I had not been able to see before.

I had some great feedbacks about my sketch. Many people thought the mood radar was a great idea. Giving the users two options to either change or stay in their mood was actually an idea I got from the feedbacks which I included in my prototype later. Of course, there were feedbacks suggesting that I make some changes to clarify what the mood radar is. Before creating an actual prototype, I redid my sketch, adding a pop up description of the mood radar and naming it the Mood Radar on the app.

Prototypes

I used an app called POP to create my prototype. I upload my sketches to POP and they become mockup pages that I can play around with and add interactive functionalities. Creating low fidelity mockups and prototypes are nice because I can make changes easily later when there are problems. In fact, I conducted three rounds of user testing and still found problems in the app.

Project Day 3: User Testing

On the last day of the project, I recruited several participants and conducted a user testing to test if my app was meeting the goals I have set up. As participants, I chose my classmates and people in the GA building. I gave them a scenario that they are using a music player app in their phone. I also gave them a task to try to find songs they might like to listen in the current mood. I used a “hugging” method to record the test. Participants would hug a laptop from the back and record how they are navigating through the prototype and their comments/reactions in real time.

The test findings were extremely helpful. Like I mentioned earlier, I conducted three rounds of testing and with six people, but every time I tested, people had something to say about the app that was not working for them. I had to change the shape of icons and add pop-up descriptions to minimize the confusions people had and get rid of some interactions in the app to simplify the experience.

Final Prototype (left), First Prototype (Right)

After repeated tests, redesigns, and iterations, I wrapped up my first project by giving a short presentation in front of the class. Even the presentation had to be prepared an hour before the actual presentation. Unlike the interviews and testings, there wasn’t even a rehearsal. I did not feel prepared, but everyone did great and finished their first project in success. Although three days was a short period of time, it seems like was enough time for me and everyone else to understand the process of design and be immersed in the experience of learning and creating something meaningful.

Next Steps

If I were to continue with this project, I will look into the suggestions I got after the presentations. Also, there was another prevalent theme I notice during the user interview. People had problems with downloading music from their app and keeping their app size relatively small. It would be a hard and probably harder problem to solve, but an interesting one to address.

Check out my working prototype :

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