Digging digitally with the iconic record store.
A quick background
Rubadub Records is a Glasgow-based record store & label that opened its doors in 1992. To music enthusiasts, collectors and DJs, Rubadub is iconic — particularly in the spaces of electronic music.
The store is widely known for its ability to introduce quality & undiscovered techno, house, disco, reggae, hip-hop (and everything in between) to the wider community.
These days, the store’s output is easily reachable beyond Europe with its online store that sells both records & music equipment such as turntables, modular synths & drum machines.
This means people like me (I am a bit of a fan) who live 16,000 km away, can easily access the goods.
As Green Hill highlight in their case study, there was no point simply recreating the online store in app-form when the mobile-site was already perfectly functional.
The mobile application had to have its own purpose. It needed to be a space where music-heads can discover fresh releases in a organic and random way.
“We tried to recreate the shop experience where you get fed tunes you wouldn’t normally listen to.”
Rubadub’s co-owner Wilba Sandieson mentions over email.
Music for heads and feet
The apps intention is to deliver an experience that mirrors the way one would flick through vinyl, select a pile and then listen to those records in a physical brick & motor store.
While this is a ecommerce app in which one user-journey ends with a purchase , I personally feel the success of the app comes down to the listening, discovering and the overall ‘digging’ experience, rather than the quantity of sales.
So, let’s have a look…
Initially I (the user) am greeted with two clear options, Sign in or Sign up.
The apps ecommerce system was purposely integrated with the existing site meaning account holders of Rubadub.co.uk already have an account.
Additionally, this means all payments through the app go through the same system as the website. Meaning no further stock work on the backend for the Rubadub team!
Anyway, as a new user, I select Sign up.
I fill four form fills, tap the boxes, enter the information. Done.
Already in, no email confirmation needed ✓
Next appears a four slide series that introduces the app and its features.
- Intro: Logo and clear copy that delivers the purpose of the app.
- Listen: Recognisable ‘sound icon’ and copy informing me of the ‘swipe’ function as well as the exclusive value I should expect in the app (ie: staff favs).
- Save: introduces ‘❤’ icon— a bookmark style feature that allows you put aside your favourites. This also feeds the algorithm data about your personal music tastes, allowing it to cater for you more accurately as time goes on.
- Buy: Informing you of the store function and ability to purchase records for delivery.
A nice trustworthy and contrasting blue button then leads me to get started, LET’S GO.
For me, the UI works nicely. The minimalistic layout keeps things simple and obvious. It roles with the model of a typical music player so things straight away feel familiar.
Additionally, the small use of colour provides the cover-art with the spotlight. The music playing is the most important factor here so this makes total sense.
The detailed description (INFO) is a nice touch that sits discretely as a pop-up that you can quickly exit back to the track (The 2 minute music previews are never interrupted).
The nav-bar sits nicely as the footer making it in thumbs-reach no matter what sized device you own 👍
Any call-to-action buttons relating to purchases are green — this makes the action you are taking very obvious throughout. The ‘listen again’ is a great addition as most people may not remember every saved record by name or visual alone.
If a record is out-of-stock, the user will be notified well before they can purchase, avoiding any frustration.
As for the actual discovering of music, it does well.
Shown in the image above, tapping the white arrows pans through the different tracks in a particular EP (in this case Krikor’s Pacific Alley In Dub).
Swiping left takes you to the next (random) record awaiting, while swiping right simply takes you back to the previous piece of music.
This allows you to effortlessly find new music, save it and then continue discovering all in one, uninterrupted flow.
The app has done an amazing job at expanding the Rubadub record searching experience beyond the walls of the Scottish shop.
While it clearly cannot replace the feeling of physically flicking through records, talking-music with staff or whatever moment of serendipity real-life throws at you, it certainly delivers as an awesome digital alternative.
I am personally excited to see where they take the application next with more features planned to be added.
I also look forward to what the future brings as other stores and businesses in the vinyl community embrace new technologies.
This piece was written for the ‘Analysing Effective Experience’ Assessment as apart of User Experience @ Macleay College, Melbourne.