Hey Sonos

A User-Experience approach

About half a year ago I bought my first wireless speaker, a Sonos Play:1. Let me start off by saying that I love Sonos and their product. The speaker sounds great and is easy to set up. They support a wide range of music services and while I do not have any experience with the multi-room setup, it seems pretty awesome.

There is only one thing that I hate, yes, hate. You guessed it, the desktop app. Sure.. it works, but other than that it’s pretty terrible. I didn’t write this because I hate the product, on the contrary. I just think I could love it even more.

What should change, now.

The design

The design of the app looks very outdated. Especially when you compare it with the Sonos website or mobile app. Going from rounded corners, harsh gradients and patterns (desktop app) to straight lines, bold colors and subtle gradients (mobile app and website). It just feels very disconnected from the Sonos brand. I mean, as a person not previously familiar with Sonos, where is this blue color coming from?

The search function

There is only one thing this function needs to help me do, which is to find things. I don’t want to make sure if I am searching in the correct music library or service, I don’t want to select wether I am searching for artists, a album or a song. I just want to type, search and find. Just show me all the results for my search and order them by kind. This might be because of a technical restriction (I don’t know, I am not a programmer), but there has to be a better way.

The hierarchy

Everything seems so important and gets so much room in the app. Just look at this screen below. My whole macbook’s screen is filled, but only 1/3 of it is relevant at the moment, namely “Now Playing” and “Queue”.

So much wasted space

For example, why does the multi-room speaker setup options get so much space in the app? First off, I can’t imagine that changing the settings for the rooms is a main task in the app. I only have one speaker so that 1/3 part of the screen is worthless to me. But even if I had 4 speakers, in 4 different rooms I would not even need the whole height of the screen for that content.

I do like the use of icons though and think that this could be a good foundation for a new design for this part of the app (in a smaller way, only using icons).

The not-so-informational-info-button

As you can see I am currently listening to “Nikes” by Frank Ocean. I like that it shows me the title, artist, cover and album of the song. It also shows me what song is next, which is great. It could have been designed a little bit better, but let’s not talk about that now.

Let’s talk about this info-button in the top right corner. If I want some additional information about the song I could click there, right? The thing is I have not found one song that actually gives me additional information when I click on that button. I get the same title, artist, cover and album of the song that is displayed in the “Now Playing” part of the app. The funny thing is the user expects more information when they click that button, instead Sonos just duplicated the now playing information and make it smaller.

I can even click on artist info, only to find out that the artist singing the song is Frank Ocean. Thank you, Sonos. Remember I had to click 3 times to find out nothing. I could have gotten all the information I wanted by using the Wikipedia part in spotlight (CMD + Space + Frank Ocean, 0 clicks).

Maybe it depends on the music service you use, but I think you should make sure there actually is additional information to be shown, or just delete the function completely.

Let’s be honest, the desktop app is pretty bad, but it functions. I would really like to see Sonos rethinking their desktop app. Starting with going back to the functions. Asking themselves and their users what the main functions are and which should be prioritised in the application? Then rethink the user interaction of those functions (for example the search and rooms function). Finally reorganise the application and create a new design so it matches the current Sonos brand.

Hey Sonos,

I did not write this because I hate your product, on the contrary. I just think I could love it even more. If you guys ever want (or need) a fresh mind in your design team, you know where to find me!

— Nick Broers

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