1-week UX case study on Bandcamp’s mobile search page
Bandcamp is an online music publishing platform that allows independent artists and labels to stream and sell their music. As a record label owner myself, Bandcamp has provided me a seamless way to earn money from selling digital and vinyl releases. I also use Bandcamp to discover new artists, but from a usability standpoint, I observed there are pain points in the user-flow that when addressed, can make the experience more efficient.
Over the span of one week, recommendations to address key issues dealing with Bandcamp’s music discovery user-flow were explored and the solutions were successfully confirmed through testing.
Understand current usability issues with music discovery and address them via redesign informed by user interactions.
A Few Final Screens
The issues I found were primarily focused on two aspects of the search tab: differentiating the search bar from the discover page and using custom search filters.
My solutions to these issues were validated by testing a prototype with eight users:
I used UserBob (usability testing solution) to observe the behaviors of eight average users who were asked to discover new music on the Bandcamp mobile app.
Test Scenario: Imagine you want to discover new artists and music from different genres of music in different formats (cd, vinyl, etc) using the Bandcamp mobile app.
User Feedback / Behavior Analysis
There were a handful of recurring pain points, specifically around the different search parameters and filtering between location and format (vinyl, cd, cassette, etc).
The search bar can only look up by artist, album, track or fan name, while the separate discover page allows custom filters by genre, location, and format. Six users tried looking up different keywords in the search bar and later realized they needed to actually use the custom filters instead for specific results.
The users also expressed frustration about the horizontal scrolling on the discover page and the categorization of the search results when attempting to search for albums.
Mapping The Pain Points
By using UserBob, I observed each participant using the mobile app and mapped out the task-flow and pain points when users look for new music.
I started sketching out ideas by hand to quickly explore multiple ideas and create lo-fi wireframes. This approach helped me aggregate ideas and consult with peers on a final version that will go into prototyping for user testing.
I proceeded with the option that best adhered to the existing app design and directly addressed the observed pain points that users encountered.
Search vs Discover
Problem: Users expressed confusion when differentiating search bar parameters with discover filters.
Solution: Define and clarify both parameters once a user clicks on the search tab. Search bar is locked in header when user is either searching for artist name or browsing through filters for better accessibility instead of having to go back to the landing page to access the search bar.
Problem: Users have to scroll horizontally in order to add custom filters such as genre and city name.
Solution: Present an “+add” option that is visible at a glance for easy access and less scrolling.
Search Results (using search bar)
Problem: Search results are randomized by album, artist, label, and track names.
Solution: Better categorization system that is easy to navigate.
The prototype is built for the user to complete 3 simple tasks. The tasks are tailored to the specific pain points that were observed from the first test.
The link below will take you to the prototype for you to interact using trackpad/mouse and complete the test yourself.
Test Scenario: Imagine you want to discover new artists and music from different genres of music and in different formats (cd, vinyl, etc.) using the Bandcamp mobile app.
1) Search for all “best selling” music from Tokyo, Japan
2) Turn off the location icon and search for Reggae music only on compact disc format
3)Search for albums that have the word “happy” in it
I tested the prototype using UserBob with eight unique participants. Seven out of eight users were able to successfully differentiate the search bar from the discover page and all the users were able to locate the format icons at a glance and understand how search results were categorized.
Small improvements go a long way! Without attempting a vast redesign of the app, minor design changes to the search tab led to a better usability experience.
The users still had additional suggestions, but this is where I would go back to the emphasizing stage, define the new pain points, ideate, prototype, and validate. This would be a continuous process until you meet the needs of both, the user and the business.
Special thanks to Kyle Hixson, Brookes Solomon, Denis Dukhvalov, Clara Yoon, and Dennis Chung for all your constructive feedback and support!