Spotify Concept: Discovery through Newsfeed

Sharon Wang
Draft · 7 min read


Like many music lovers, I get sick of hearing the same songs over and over again. I use Spotify to discover new music, and it allows me to browse through content that has been tailored to my likings. However, I am unable to personalize what shows up on my feed and discover music that is popular among my friends and artists I like.

Spotify Discover allows users to discover new songs and playlists based on what they have previously listened to and saved to playlists. However, many users are not satisfied with the songs that they discover and find it difficult to trust its recommendations.

Spotify Discover Doesn’t Do Its Job

My original hypothesis going into this was

If Spotify Discover had better curating methods, users would be able to find songs they like more quickly and more easily.

How Users Currently Discover New Music

Understanding Why Users Can’t Find Songs Quickly

User Research

Read the interview protocol here:

My goal was to find out how users discover new music on Spotify. Here are some key insights:

  1. Users were overwhelmed by the amount of content that Spotify put out.

What’s the difference between the Home page and the Browse Page? Why is Discover Weekly on both? Where do I start?

2. Users did not like the recommendations they received.

Hmm.. I’m not sure why Sleep is recommended for me since I never listen to chill music.

3. Users want to see what other people listen to if they have the same music taste.

I wish there was a way for me to see what my rave group is listening to.

4. Users were annoyed if they listened to too many disliked songs.

I wish there was a way to blacklist disliked songs… or preview songs instead of listening to the whole thing.

People want to have more control over what music they discover.

At first, I thought that people were frustrated with discovering music because of how time-consuming it was. However, I found out that users wanted more personalized content that they would enjoy more.

After observing Spotify users’ experiences, I realized that my original hypothesis was only part of the problem- users couldn’t discover songs quickly because they were having trouble relating to the songs recommended unless they recognized the song details or artist from what they had previously seen on the internet.

Feature Brainstorming

Brainstorming Session

I recruited my two friends, Irene and Tate, to help me brainstorm. We categorized them into 3 opportunity areas:

  1. How might we establish trust between Spotify Discover and the user?
  2. How might we increase the chance of finding liked songs?
  3. How might we make discovering on Spotify more personal?

Focusing on the third opportunity area of

We brainstormed some possible features, and voted to stick with:

Spotify Newsfeed/Timeline: Having a feed where we can see the activity of those we follow- Allowing users to see the content of people they have selected for themselves and allowing users to see what others who have similar tastes have been listening to.

First Iteration

Initial Approach

Currently, the user’s profile is useless in that it is hard to access, and you can only see recently played playlists. I thought it beneficial to rework the profile page into a timeline, where you can see all of the user’s recent activity and what they listened to- songs, playlists, and artists.

Currently, users can follow others on Spotify, but the feature is useless on mobile because there is nowhere for their following activity to show up.

After some user critiques, I found that users preferred not to see too much content in one post so that they could quickly scroll through other posts. I also neglected to address my problem of personalization — users could see posts of what friends were listening to, but it wasn’t necessarily what they chose to see.

How other products execute News and Activity Feeds

News and Activity Feeds from (left to right): LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, Facebook (Timeline), Facebook

Social media platforms utilize Newsfeed to promote engagement amongst users- reactions, comments, and shares are encouraged. However, media platforms such as Youtube promote content based off of who the user follows. One thing they all have in common is they prioritize the name and content.

Second Iteration

What kind of posts should show up in the Newsfeed?

Based off of my critiques and other applications, I determined that:

  1. People like to see the most recent activities first.
  2. Users are more likely to click on a song or playlist if someone they know has also listened to it.
  3. Users are more likely to click on a song or playlist if it is by an artist they know.
Explorations for Home

After conducting some initial usability tests, I found that users preferred not seeing a list format because of how much scrolling it required. From my feedback, I determined that users enjoy concise posts where they can quickly view content from other people instead of exploring multiple contents from one person.

I also found that while users enjoyed the concept of being able to see personalized content from people they followed, they still wanted to keep some of the recommendations that Spotify curated for them, such as the daily mixes.

Explorations for Timeline

I chose to go with C, because I felt that embodied the “Timeline” essence the most- content on timelines aren’t necessarily organized, but users want to see what was the most recent activity was.

Refining Home Page

Based off of user critiques, I made the necessary adjustments to the Home page and explored what the empty state would like if the users did not follow anyone yet. This time around, I found that:

  1. Users preferred to see what songs others liked- showing that someone listened to a song was not enough to make a user click on a song. However, if a user were to save that song or add it to a playlist, it meant that the user thought it was a good song.

Final Iteration

Determining Entry Point

I decided that the entry point would be under the Home Tab. It would be the first things that users see upon entering Spotify because:

  1. Users want to see updates. Like Instagram and Facebook, users want to be caught up on content first. Because Spotify’s algorithms make it hard to detect changes and new updates, I made it a separate tab under the Home page.
Switch between Spotify’s algorithmic recommendations and the people you chose to follow.

Prioritizing posts

  1. Posts that show up on newsfeed would include when someone a user follows saves a song or adds it to a playlist, indicating that the person likes the song. Additionally, it would include activity from the user’s followed artists, such as newly-released albums.
Users can quickly scroll through content.

Final User Flow

UI Kit

While I wasn’t able to access Spotify’s Circular Font, I pulled my UI Kit from Spotify’s Design Resources, as well as generating my own analysis.

Usability Testing

After performing usability tests, I discovered that people would much rather follow artists over friends.

However, since users didn’t seem to use Spotify as a social application anyways, they were okay with only following friends who had similar music taste as they did, and liked having their activity show up on their feed.

Takeaways and Future Iterations

From my findings, I learned that while users liked having more control over the content that is curated to them, most users had issues with overcrowding on the newsfeed. For future implementations, some design considerations include:

  1. Filters — a way to filter between seeing just artist posts or just friend posts
  2. Metrics — if multiple people the user follows like a certain song or playlist, it should be prioritized to the top of the feed.

This is a case study for Cornell’s Digital Product Design course. I am in no way affiliated with Spotify.