A deep dive into Spotify’s user behaviors

A UX research case study.

Marcela Sanchez Moreno
Sep 7 · 10 min read
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Spotify’s logo

Putting ourselves in the designer’s shoes, we have done this two-week research in which we tried to solve common problems among users less experienced with technology and the popular streaming application: Spotify.

First of all, we will explore a little bit about what Spotify means.

Spotify is a digital music, podcast, and video streaming service of Swedish origin that gives access to millions of songs and other content from artists around the world. This platform in its user interface does not have great differences when used on different devices or operating systems such as Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iPhone.

Founded in 2006, it is operated by Spotify AB, which has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2018 through Luxembourg-based holding company Spotify Technology SA, which is also part of the Russell 1000 index.

Its mission is to unleash the potential of human creativity, giving one million creative artists the opportunity to live from their art and billions of fans the chance to enjoy and be inspired by it.

Transforming the way we listen to music forever since its launch in 2008, it is the world’s most popular streaming audio subscription service with over 200 million users in 92 markets.

One of the main features of Spotify is the ability to share music with others. Spotify users can send and share music via social media platforms or email, although some types of music sharing require the recipient to be a member of Spotify.

Spotify also addresses the limitations of lack of access to Wi-Fi services through its offline mode provision. Depending on the user’s account type and other factors, Spotify can sync certain amounts of music, in playlists, to a device so that even when the user is offline or offline, they will be able to listen to those selected tracks. This and other unique features make Spotify unique in the new field of digital music hosting by subscription.

It allows the user to discover, manage and share over 60 million tracks, including over 1.5 million podcast titles, for free, or upgrade to Spotify Premium for access to exclusive music features, including improved sound quality and an -on-demand, offline, ad-free listening experience.

Problem Statement

The problem is the user experience when using the Spotify service. We interviewed some people who had problems using the platform and discovered the positive and negative aspects of the user interface.

The purpose is to make an analysis and research of these deficiencies in the product and for the user to interact with the service or product successfully, to make it an attractive product for users, and to make it enjoyable with respect to its functionalities. With this research, we want to take into account the user’s opinion and experience with the product to evaluate it with the data and suggestions collected for possible implementations in the real application.

User & Audience

This is one of the people who wanted to put in our hands to solve a fairly common problem in users of this streaming platform, Michelle is a nurse and mother who enjoys relaxed music and pop and in Spotify would like to find a space of their own to enjoy music, because their children also use their account and in the end, she always ends up listening to their musical tastes and those of their children.

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How to improve the way Spotify users find music to listen

Through this research, we want to achieve objectives according to the needs and fears that the user has regarding the application of streaming Spotify as reflected in the table above.

Michelle wants to discover new music, new musical tastes, and find a way to do it without paying an additional bill, besides being able to have her own space where she can separate her musical tastes from those of her children. She has an average experience in handling this type of platform and wants through Spotify to know about other musical genres different from the ones she is used to listening to.

Below we can see Michelle’s User Journey Map as she tries to log in to Spotify and try to discover new music:

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Roles & Responsibilities

The team that carried out this research is made up of two full-stack web developers: Lady Marcela Sánchez and Juan Carlos López, in which we took on the role of UI/UX Designer in order to play with it and know how this type of observation is carried out.

Between the two of us, we worked on the analysis and research of the user experience, identifying each of the problems and solving them in the best possible way, through our point of view on the cohesion and viability of the user interface.

Discovering weaknesses in user interaction according to research
In the process phases, the challenges that we must face, know well the product or service in order to make a good investigation, look at the challenges or problems, draw (sketches) sketches, prototypes, information architecture, wireframes, and the solution obtained.

Scope & Constraints

Through the experience of a user using the Spotify platform we have his objectives, his needs, what he wants, his fears, and his journey map, we analyze this case for 2 weeks establishing a schedule for each phase of the investigation.

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Process & What You Did

Continuing with the connecting thread of this research, we will review step by step what was done and why it was done to obtain the final conclusions that we will address later in this blog.

The challenge / the problem

A) More than 1 profile per premium account.

  • A problem that Michelle has is her bad experience at the time of listening to a playlist because she has the habit of listening to relaxing music after work but also share the music with their children, only appears recommendations that listen to their children and has no recommendations of the tastes of her, then she feels frustrated with this situation.

B) Saves the song, playlist, and radio function

  • One drawback that Michelle has is when she saves a playlist because when she looks for a way to save it, she doesn’t really understand the options and doesn’t know how to do it, which frustrates her because Spotify is not very intuitive, and it doesn’t allow her to save the radio feature, because it literally works like a radio by randomly placing the songs without any time limit on playback.

C) Quick start

  • Due to Michelle’s difficulty in saving songs and playlists, improving her search, and making correct use of each of the options offered by the platform, an initial tutorial for people with little experience in using Spotify would be essential.

D) Improve the appearance of the app and recommendations

  • One of Michelle’s drawbacks is the diversity of options in the app, she feels overwhelmed by the amount of content present on the platform and doesn’t know where to start.

E) Nav Bar

  • One drawback for Michelle is the searches, the search bar in the Spotify application is very minimalist and not very easy to use. It is located at the top right and the font size of the bar is very small.
    The user profile is very simple, the user does not feel part of the application, ie Spotify is just a tool for playing music leaving the user aside, although we know that the priority is the music, we consider that it should be a little more user friendly.

F) Accessibility

  • The accessibility of the Spotify application is very poor, due to problems with user interaction, problems with the background colors of the Spotify application as it is dark which tend to confuse the user, or has no preference for the dark color, the font is small for many visually impaired users, and the color contrasts can be confusing and frustrating for the user when looking for something they cannot find.

G) Design flexibility

  • the design flexibility of the Spotify application is not nice, we suggest improving the navigation menu, the Spotify logo is green but in the application, this color is rarely visible, nowhere inside the application is the Spotify logo

Research & discoveries notes

A) Michelle’s account is a basic plan, but it is suggested that a basic account can have at least two profiles. So that Michelle and her children’s musical tastes are in each profile and do not get mixed up in the playlist improving the experience and being able to have musical recommendations according to each profile separately.

B) Improve the way to save the playlist by some icon that alludes to the action save, at the time of research is very confusing to the user, because there is an icon in the form of a heart, but does not indicate that it is to save the song or playlist, some users believe that this option only indicates that they like the song or playlist, it is not obvious to the user that this option is to save.

C) When an account or a new profile is created, a quick start is made as a 5-minute tutorial to give the user a tour of interactive Spotify, to give them knowledge or tips on how to navigate the application.

D) According to the research, we saw that the platform is not very optimized for the user, since, in the Home page, there is music suggested by Spotify to discover the music of an artist that the user likes but not the music that the user usually listens to, which suggests that the user’s usual musical taste is a priority, also simplify the menu options that are more pleasing to the user visually so that they feel more familiar with the application and have less text to avoid confusion and the user feeling overwhelmed with so much information, playlists and many other items are not very ordered and can be confusing to the user so it is also suggested that there are drop-down folders to have an organization in the music preferences and other items that save the user’s favorite songs.

E) The navigation bar is not very pleasing to the user experience when the user goes to search for music, the navigation bar is expected to take up more space on the main screen and have a message indicating and inviting the user to listen to their favorite music with Spotify.
The idea is to improve the profile design, give the user a sense of belonging to the application, give the user the ability to customize their application through themes, colors, and whether or not they want a more simplified design.

F) Customize the page with user preferences should not be a limitation by Spotify, the user could opt for another application, improve the design interface, improve the type of font, improve color contrasts especially thinking about a person with a lack of vision.

G) Having navigation tabs at the top for easy user location, highlights the Spotify application with the green color, when it is on the current menu, or when hovering over the menu or options.

Sketches

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Sketch on the Spotify homepage

According to the problems and solutions presented, we have created a simple, easy, and small sketch over the main view of Spotify, later in this blog, we will see a wireframe about the possible changes in the platform regarding the user experience.

Information Architecture

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Spotify’s sitemap

Wireframes

This visual guide represents the skeleton frame of what Spotify is as an application. The wireframes are created with the purpose of organizing elements to better achieve a particular purpose, as in this case to give a visual point of view about the improvements that could be made in the platform taking into account the results of the research.

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Home page with the navigation bar as suggested in the previous points.
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Quick tutorial for people with little platform expertise.
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This is the view of a playlist with the “save” icon and with the detail of the heart icon to make it obvious that this is the way to save a song or a playlist.

Conclusions

After doing some research and analysis of the Spotify product we have concluded and suggested 5 ideas in order to improve Michelle’s experience on the Spotify App, the most important being accessibility, better design on the platform, and is more enjoyable for any type of user would help more people enjoy the app.

This process was done in several phases, first, it must be understood for what type of user is going to design, in which we have analyzed their objectives, their needs, what the user wants and their fears, after collecting this information, it is analyzed to make their experience more enjoyable.

Additionally, we concluded that the application should not be limited to certain types of people, since it is not very intuitive for people who are inexperienced in the use of software or have visual or even auditory limitations. These types of people should be involved in order to make a better reach on the platform.

Bootcamp

From idea to product, one pixel at a time.

Marcela Sanchez Moreno

Written by

Software Engineer Student at Holberton School Colombia 💻 Enthusiastic weaver of macramé and crochet 🧶 Colombian Red Cross volunteer ❤

Bootcamp

Bootcamp

The best resources for designers starting in Design, UX, and UI. Bootcamp is a new product publication from the team behind the UX Collective (http://uxdesign.cc). To submit your story: hello@uxdesign.cc

Marcela Sanchez Moreno

Written by

Software Engineer Student at Holberton School Colombia 💻 Enthusiastic weaver of macramé and crochet 🧶 Colombian Red Cross volunteer ❤

Bootcamp

Bootcamp

The best resources for designers starting in Design, UX, and UI. Bootcamp is a new product publication from the team behind the UX Collective (http://uxdesign.cc). To submit your story: hello@uxdesign.cc

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