A mobile application empowers individual to connect with record stores and tastemakers within their music community.
How can we bridge the digital and physical experience of music discovery?
Interaction Design, UI/UX Design, User Research, Information Architecture
Logan Quinn, Raj Makker
New customers old business. Record stores were once a social hub for music discovery. In the last ten years, the convenience of the internet and the rise of e-commerce and has led to a dilemma for many stores who sell physical media. Additionally, streaming music services such as Spotify and Apple Music have attempted to emulate this experience but are often lacking in engagement.
Vinyl revival: young listeners move beyond online streaming. However, vinyl has recently started to make a comeback. According to RIAA’s 2015 mid-year annual report, Vinyl sales increased by 52% comparing to 2014. Moreover, 72% of these vinyl buyers are 35 years-old or younger. This huge surge of young and tech-savvy consumers has created an interesting gap in the marketplace.
Competitive analysis revealed that there was a lack of unified solution supporting the three stages of music discovery journey. We also interviewed music listeners and record store employees uncovering the gap in communicating music taste in exchange for recommendations. Additionally, listeners prefer to discover new music from their friends or a music tastemaker comparing to the algorithm-based recommendations.
Benefits to the stakeholders
Allowing for greater ease of entry into the record store environment will benefit all parties involved.
Essentially, our design bridges the gap between the listener’s digital experience and the local music community and strengthen the connections between the customers and the record store tastemakers. This mutual journey can be broken down into the following four stages:
We created a storyboard to help us depict the experience journey of both in-store and online interaction.
Prototyping and evaluation
For our first iteration, our design was solely focusing on a single task and one possible path of the user interaction, we encountered difficulties in creating a well-rounded experience. As a result, our paper prototype wasn’t able to inform our design decision to the test users.
As we expanded our design with a holistic approach, our goal for the second iteration was to improve the overall interaction model for the primary activity and investigate the need for peripheral activities and their impacts on the main interaction. We gave the test participants a list of tasks to accomplished and were able to uncover confusing on-screen content and UI controls.
Our third iteration was developed with a high-fidelity interface design and was made interactive with prototyping tool InVision. We received series of constructive feedbacks from our classmates and the instructor, and immediate revisions were made to the design.
Vision For The Hybrid Experience
The core component of our solution is what we call a tastecard. A tastecard is a simple expression of musical interest that can be used anytime and anywhere to facilitate a conversation about music.
By selecting from a list of artists, the listener will be given a detailed description of what sub-genres, eras, or other information that those artists have in common, all packaged into a concise “card” for later use. All of which provides the tastemaker with more information than the listener could have provided on their own.
Use Scenario 1: Discovering nearby tastemaker by creating a taste card
(Link to prototypes)
Use Scenario 2: Get personalized music recommendation through both online and in-store interaction
(Link to prototype)
Start with the big picture
Focus on the experience, what are people’s goals and what do they want to accomplish in the design context? What’s the overall experience journey? At the beginning of our concept formation and initial prototype, our design decisions and discussions were mainly around a narrow view of the possible interaction. We had a very hard time to settle on agreement simply because each of us has a different level of experience and understanding with the problem space. Once we were able to step back and re-think of our design from a system perspective, mapped out all components of our solution, and grouped them into categories with respect to the entire experience journey, we were able to tie different aspects of the interaction into a coherent design. Most importantly, the collaboration was much smoother comparing to the beginning of the project.
Ask what if and how about
Provide alternative designs to facilitate frequent critique. I was tasked to mock-up the interface during the initial prototyping phase and created the final high-fidelity UI design. I realized that having alternative design proposals often encourage conversation, critiques, and new ideas. It also challenged me to come up with more designs and foster critical thinking.