Project 3: Collaborated Live Sessions — SoundCloud

This project started by the team members being introduced to their teams. This was the major difference between this project and the first two projects. As a team we were to create a new tool in SoundCloud.

Client

SoundCloud

Project Time

2 Weeks

Team members

4

Techniques Used

  • Interviews
  • Storyboard
  • Task flow
  • Task Analysis
  • User Journey
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Screen flow
  • Paper Prototype
  • Digital/Clickable Prototype

Part1: Introducing myself to the team

This was our first project working as a group. The selection of the team members was made according to the results from a personality test. My test results were INFP-T or “The Mediator” — Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving and Turbulent. The other team members were a ENTP-A, ISFJ-T and INFJ-T. Before we got the chance to learn about our brief, we determined some parameters on how we would work as a group.

1st team meeting in the Barbican

Naming the team was one of our tasks before starting the project. It may seem something small, but deciding something with people that you are not completely familiar, I felt, was a good ice-breaker, since we met in a place outside of the work environment.

Part 2: Brief, Research & Problem Statement

The brief presented us to SoundCloud and the market opportunity of creating a tool where users are able to “collaborate online, DJing their select tracks with other users in real time.”

There was an initial misunderstanding of the terminology used in the brief. Because of this we needed to make sure everyone in the team was in the right page about what should be done. The word “playlist” and “DJ set” was being used by the group every time, but it had different meanings for each one. Once the terminology was strait, we determined that what we had to do was to create a new tool were a user would be able to start a Live Collaborated DJ Set and not a Live Collaborated Playlist. Therefore, users should be able to create in Soundcloud a live mixture of tracks (songs that have already been created and uploaded) with other users, being a professional, aspiring or amateur DJs.

Research: Surveys

A survey was sent to social network groups that had music as a theme and to friends and family. This part of the research, was not only about collecting information about the users, but their relation to music sharing and sites, but also to possibly invite them for a one-to-one interview where we could get qualitative data.

Here you can find the survey that was sent: http://bit.ly/1Q5z8VX

Interviews

With the interviews we got a better idea of the market and the process in which the users uploaded their music and shared them online.

Valuable information was collected during the interviews with friends (in and out site classroom), musicians, aspiring and professional DJs.

Personas

As a result of the Interviews we where able to identify the 3 personas, representations of the kind of users for SoundCloud and this new function. They were:

Focus Persona

After Analysing the pain points from all the personas, we concluded that if we focused on Zara’s we would be able to cover basically all the other pain points from Bill and Joe.

Both Bill and Joe were not set a side. Zara was our main persona, but most of the needs of Bill and Joe were taken to consideration.

Competitor Analysis

Before the interviews we had an idea of some the direct competitors from SoundCloud. With the interviews we learned about more direct and indirect competitors which made us extend our competitor research.

As we made this table, we concluded that there is no current platform that will allow users to collaborate and share their work live.

Gathering the information from our focus persona, Zara, and the tools that SoundCloud and the competitors have, we where able to determine the main problem and thus, defining the User Story:

As an aspiring DJ, Zara wants to share her energy, personality, and enthusiasm when she plays live online. So that, she could promote, gain experience and expand her network.

Having a story board of the Zara’s major pain point helped us have a clear view of what should be solved with the new tool in Soundcloud.

User Story

As a result of the research, we were able to get to the essence of the problem defining the User Story for this case:

As an aspiring DJ, Zara wants to collaborate with other user DJs so that, she can be get inspiration, promotion and feedback live.

Part 3: Design Studio, Paper & Digital/Clickable Prototype

The data collected from the research phase gave us understanding of the situation and the type of people we needed to focus on with this we were able to aim on the main problem.

Design Studio

We followed the procedure of the Design Studio, commencing with fast individual sketches so we could see what where the possible solutions for the tool separately and discussed the ideas, choosing the best options and combining them in a single structure. The fast sketching induces us to think only about the essentials of each person. Sharing and discussing the ideas combines all of the essential points and helps us build on the initial ideas for better solutions, thus getting to the best option in the team.

After the quick sketching, the ideas were posted for quick presentations and discussion for the best solutions. Notes on the sketches tagged the best choices in each sketch, according to the team, and later combined on a board as seen in the image in the right.
The combination of the best ideas had to be clear to all the team. The sketch above shows a more detailed sketch of the tool for SoundCloud.

With the plan of the prototype ready, we were able to build the first prototype in paper and test with users. We Recording their reaction and considerations with a camera for registration, plus notes were taken all the time.

Setup of how the users where being asked to test our first prototype.

During this phase, we learned many flaws in our design. Since this was our first prototype, there was not much frustration and the feedback helped us guide us to improve the prototype.

The next iteration was made digitally, taking into consideration the all the feedback from our first round of testing with the paper prototype. The second prototype was made with wireframes. This gave us a better understanding of the screen space and made us pay more attention to details in the design which were not addressed in the sketches and paper prototype.

Wireframes showing the screen flow from the home page from SoundCloud to the DJing tool.

Digital Clickable Prototype

Taking the wireframe out to test with actual users from the industry made us find even more flaws that would make a usage of the tool. Elements that seemed obvious to us were questioned and most suggestions were taken to consideration, after a pattern was noticed.

High-Fidelity Clickable prototypes

High-Fidelity prototype from SoundCloud’s homepage with the new Live button taking the user to a preference form before building the DJ live room.
With a high fidelity clickable prototype, users could have a better understanding of how the new DJ live tool would work. For the sake of the presentation we made theses screens to make a walkthrough and demonstrate how the tool would actually work. This was the result of the second iteration.
In most of our interviews the possibility of sharing the experience of the live session was always mentioned. With the screens above, the user is able to share the session as a concluding part of the product.
To have a clearer view of how the new tool would work in SoundClound’s current site, a Site Map was created for the client and our selfs to understand it better.

With the new tool in SoundCloud, our main persona Zara, can now set a live session, DJing with friends and displaying her talent and personality, attracting more fans and possible label manager, like Bill (persona). The tool could also be used by listeners, like Joe, to listen to live DJs, online and use this tool heat up parties.

Next Steps

Testing with our high fidelity prototype combined with the research phase, we propose the next steps for this product:

  • Find a way for DJs and other musicians to plugin their real instruments and add live tracks.
  • Add Plug-ins from Mixify for more advanced DJ effects without the need of live turntables.
  • Tutorials for first time users. Once the user’s got through the first walkthrough, they would be comfortable using the DJ Live Session.

Conclusion

After our second iteration, I believe that the new product created for SoundCloud attended the brief and got even further. The better understanding of the personas through the interviews and surveys made the decision making and prioritisation easier on the Design Studio and development of the digital product.

Working in a group was a challenge, mostly because there was a politeness that blocked all the team members, where confrontation and questioning decisions could have led to better options and possible solutions. The focus and the prioritisation were elements that made most of our work progress, stay on schedule.

Our choice of adding a storyboard in this project was essential to for the full understanding of the team about the main problem. It was not a specific tool that was intended to be used, but later in the process, this visual exercise helped the team overcome a communication problem, where everybody thought the same thing, but explaining sounded different where in paper everyone understood exactly what was shown.

The full understanding of the terms and wording of this project was a major issue that sometimes blocked the team of moving forward. The learning of the User Story made the team get to the essence of the problem.

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