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Intro
Spotify is the leader in streaming music providers and wants to stay this way. For this reason, they want to improve engagement and retention in their app by expanding their social capabilities. The goal for this initiative is to determine the best way moving forward in that direction, and to provide Spotify with a prototype of the feature that can be integrated seamlessly within the app.
Challenge
Conceptualize and design new feature for Spotify that will help improve user engagement and retention by expanding social capabilities.
Client
SPOTIFY (ELECTIVE PROPOSAL PROJECT)
Role
UX/UI Designer, Research, Interaction and visual designer.
Outcome
A reimagined social feature for Spotify’s mobile app that builds upon the desktop app’s social feed while increasing opportunities for users to engage with friends in a more meaningful and fulfilling way.
Market & Industry Research
To begin, I conducted a rapid research session of secondary sources. I spent few hours getting a sense of Spotify’s place within the landscape of streaming music providers and gathering enough information to help determine the focus and scope of my research. I identified some key challenges and opportunities and made a list of initial assumptions and questions. From there, I conducted a competitive analysis comparing competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying where opportunities for Spotify to differentiate itself with a social feature might exist.
App Audit
In my research, I found that Millennials are 72% of Spotify listeners. Millennials are also listed as top smartphone users, with a 98% ownership rate. Based on this information, I made the initial assumption that Spotify’s users might prefer to connect and communicate socially through Spotify via the mobile app. I wanted to become thoroughly familiar with Spotify’s mobile product, so I conducted an app audit. This helped me gain a clear grasp of the app’s architecture, hierarchy and content, which I felt was important to establish before considering how a new feature might integrate within the design.
Provisional Personas
I also created two provisional personas which embodied demographic and behavioral traits of Spotify's core user base and market. These helped me identify people who might be ideal interview subjects and consider how I might want to frame my interview questions and planning.
User Interviews
Drawing from the list of questions and assumptions I drafted during my secondary research and research plan, I crafted questions to ask participants about their music listening and sharing habits. The interview guide and script I developed can be found here. I interviewed 6 people over a day. Participants ranged in age from early 20’s to 30 years old, resided in major US cities, and reported listening to music daily.
Uncovering Insights + Identifying Needs
Following the interviews, I created an empathy map to synthesize the information gathered during my contextual inquiry. I looked for patterns, similarities, and contrasts in order to uncover insights from my observations and move towards identifying implicit user needs.
Insights
Users follow up with favorite artists thorough social media, newsletters and local music venues.
Users leverage music to change their state of mind.
Users share their music experience with others in different ways.
Persona
Based on the insights and needs discovered through my primary research synthesis, I established a primary user persona. Lauren spends lots of time commuting between collage, work and home. During this time she listens to music on Spotify with her smartphone. She chose Spotify for it’s low price for students. When she’s moving music makes her entertained, in the library she gets more focused and when she’s at home she uses music to get motivated.
Defining The Design Problem
With my primary persona established, I began crafting a set of "How Might We" questions to guide my design. Now I felt I was back on track. Reframing the insights and needs identified in my research allowed me to turn them into clearer invitations and challenges for design. At last, I was ready to move into ideation.
Comparing Business and User Goals
Moving into the next stage of defining the new feature for the Spotify app, I mapped the overlaps of business goals, user goals, and technical considerations. This helped keep the priorities of Spotify in view as I considered how best to design solutions that would satisfy Lauren's goals as well.  
User Flow
Referencing the site map, I thought through 2 scenarios, showing 2 possible ways a user might interact with the new implemented feature. I sketched the flows first, then rendered them in Sketch. Thinking through the flow for each of these tasks and scenarios helped me identify key screens to design for the prototype I planned to design and test.
UI Elements
Then I considered what details each screen should include, and outlined them in a UI requirements document. This document served as an outline and checklist for me as I designed the key screens for the user flows, and it conveyed the planned functions and design elements to project stakeholders.
Low fidelity Wireframing
I created low-fidelity wireframe sketches of key frames within the user flows I’d mapped out. These sketches helped me think through the integration of the new feature and layout before moving into digital renderings.
High-Fidelity Wireframes
Working from my lo-fi wireframes, I began working in Sketch to create a set of mid-fidelity responsive screens. This set of wireframes shows the site pages that a user would encounter as they progress from the home page towards accomplishing their tasks. These frames were developed with the goal of quickly translating them into a prototype to begin testing my design early in the process. I also annotated each of the wireframes to include details about the intended content and interactivity for the site, including the responsive viewports.
I brought my wireframes into Protopie and created a high-fidelity and interactive prototype to share with users.  
HIGH-FIDELITY PROTOTYPES
Plan
I developed a usability testing plan to outline my test objectives, goals and procedures. Due to time constraints, testing was kept to 4 people. I asked participants to use the prototype in order to complete two tasks according to the scenarios I provided, and I observed and took notes, voice and camera recording as they navigated the site.  
Visual Direction
Spotify's visual design is well-established. So in creating a mood-board, I thought specifically about how the new feature would fit within the existing visual design of the Spotify app. This allowed me to focus on specific influences and goals for the feature design.
Pulling from Spotify's branding guidelines, I created a style guide from their existing color palette, type, and styles, adding new elements as needed specific to the Friend Feed feature.
Iterations
As noted above, based on the recommendations in my affinity map I added a User Profile page to the Friend Feed flow and implemented a few other small changes.
Project Takeaways
Working to improve an existing product by identifying and designing a new feature was an exercise in finding creative solutions within a specific set of constraints. I had responsibility to become thoroughly acquainted with Spotify before trying to introduce anything new. In my research, I tried to learn as much as possible about the company’s priorities and where they’d already been in terms of offering social features. I gave much thought to the fact that Spotify had decided to end their social messaging feature.
Next Steps
With more time, I'd like to work a bit more on the visual design for the site. I'd also love to explore more by conducting more tests and iterate more.  I'd also like to follow up with a second round of research targeted towards the group of users that I might have missed in the first set of research.
And most of all I would like to expand the user flow and and functionality of the website by adding more features.
Conduct
Overall, the flow and hierarchy of the app met user expectations in terms of fitting within the Spotify mobile app design. The users I tested liked the idea of new features and were able to navigate through the app and accomplish tasks successfully. However, there were a few points that caused confusion and didn’t meet user expectations and offer opportunities for improvement.
Affinity mapping
Drawing from the usability test results, I noted my observations and data on sticky notes, then organized them according to patterns and trends. I then created an affinity map as a way of interpreting and prioritizing my findings.
Revising the site's navigation and payment process was at the top of the list of recommendations that emerged from my insights.
Giving more emphasis to the brand values and “community”, content of the site came next.
Product Roadmap
I looked back at ideas generated during brainstorming and determined which ones could be further developed into a social feature that would respond to the needs of both parties. I then outlined specific details for each and prioritized them.
Appmap
Informed by the features and priorities outlined in my product roadmap, I created a revised app map for Spotify, showing how the new social feature would integrate within the existing architecture of the app.  
Brainstorming
I led a group brainstorming session with 4 participants. I focused on three of “How Might We” questions. We then discussed and brainstormed further as a group. The opportunity for multiple perspectives from people new to the topic offered the chance to gather fresh ideas and play off each other's thoughts, creating a unique momentum.
Research
MARKET TREND ANALYSIS, COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS, APP AUDIT, PROVISIONAL PERSONAS, USER INTERVIEWS.
Define
EMPATHY MAPPING, PRIMARY PERSONA, POV + HMW STATEMENTS, BRAINSTORMING
Strategy
PROJECT GOALS MAPPING, PRODUCT ROADMAP
IXD
PROJECT GOALS MAPPING, PRODUCT ROADMAP
USABILITY
TESTING PLAN AND SCRIPT, USABILITY TESTING, AFFINITY MAP  
UID
MOODBOARD, STYLETILE, HIGH-FIDELITY WIREFRAMES + INVISION PROTOTYPE, UI KIT
IA
USER FLOW MAP, SKETCHING, WIREFRAMING IN SKETCH, PROTOTYPING IN INVISION
Find Me
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SBBIKE
BHUKU
SPOTIFY
a Los Angeles Based
UX Designer