Ten Years of UX Changes

A review of “How Spotify’s website UX has changed (2006 to 2016)” by Sean Hervo

It’s a three-letter word — ROI. You might think it means return on investment like any normal person would, but if you are Russ Hanneman from HBO’s Silicon Valley you would know it means Radio On Internet. According to Russ that is how you get Tres Commas, that is three commas, as in the number you will have when you sell ROI.

One of these ROI companies you are probably thinking of is Spotify, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong because if you think as I do then that was your first thought when you heard about Spotify. However, Spotify is a desktop and mobile app that streams music, much like iTunes.

In Sean Hervo’s article “How Spotify’s website UX has changed (2006 to 2016)” he walks you through each iteration of the website and calls out the good, the bad, and the ugly of the site’s UX. Spotify was founded in 2006, in beta by 2007, and launched in 2008. In these early stages Spotify had a website and its sole purpose was to advertise for the desktop application. During this timeframe a website’s UX was not an issue and as Hervo points out the 2007 website is God-awful. The typography is to small and the sign up field is off to the right making waste of the bottom half of the page. I won’t even talk about the logo expect that you can forgive a website for being poorly designed in the early years but you can’t forgive a horrible logo, not then, not ever.

The 2008 and 2009 websites are similar in design with their separate issues but overall a nice design for being eight years old. However, both have one major flaw that is pointed out, the left side has a bigger column of whitespace then the right. I agree with the author when he says it looks unprofessional, but I believe that the larger whitespace is due to the crappy logo. It looks as if the web designer tried to get the same amount of margin around the logo which pushed everything else right.

Like the 2008 and 2009 versions the 2010 and 2011 are very similar but the site and the UX get an overhaul. In 2010 the “card” look shows up, which is a look you still see today on apps like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Side note — I did not know that these are called cards. Learning is fun.

In 2010 you can see that Spotify is expanding to mobile and other platforms increasing their user’s ability to enjoy Spotify anywhere.

Enter the minimal design approach in 2012. Hero image with a call to action and a download button, and that is it.

From 2014 to 2016 is when the fun really begins. By this time parallax scrolling has been on the scene for a few years and was very popular. Unlike the cards from 2010 where Spotify might have been a trend setter, they were behind the curve for parallax but that didn’t stop them from using and continuing to use the effect. Hervo nails his analysis during these years, stating, “Imagery is good, using high-res photos which convey a sense of fun and style”. Through each year the call to action is clear and attention grabbing.

I would like to point out that in 2014 Spotify’s logo was updated.

Old logo
New logo

An impressive observation that Hervo made was that in 2015 the website used vibrant colors that made the user think of summer and music festivals, which would put the user in the mood to listen to music. As someone with a background in graphic design I love this analysis because of the importance we place on color theory.

This brings us to the most recent version of Spotify’s website in 2016, and it slightly steps up its game from the earlier designs. It still keeps the vibrant colors, clear call to actions, and more legible body copy. As Hervo writes, “They’ve hit a sweet spot between form and functionality and offered a website that is as simple to use as it is good-looking” and I couldn’t agree more.

Over all this article was very insightful and has a ton of great information but I wouldn’t classify this as a UX review. The reason being is because the author pulls the data from uxtimeline.com/spotify.html, which only displays screen shots of Spotify’s website and does not talk about the website’s interaction. This article would have been better classified as a design review. I know design is part of UX and while talking about design you can hit on UX issues but it is only a small part in comparison to the site’s interaction and studying each iteration’s interaction would have been more interesting.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.