Building a fan favourite by asking the right questions

Role Product Designer
Company IDAGIO
Team Android

Summary

IDAGIO is a classical music streaming service with a lot of content. With the catalogue reaching 2 million tracks and growing every day, some users within the company suggested that filters on content-heavy pages might be a valuable addition to the app. I didn't disagree with them – but I also had a feeling that this approach wasn’t solving the right problem. With this in mind, I set out to work out what the real problem was...

Problem Statement

Some of IDAGIO’s internal users were frustrated that when landing on J.S. Bach’s profile page (at that time, a long list of data), there was no way of quickly navigating his works.

This was certainly frustrating some external users too: A small number of our "aficonados" (those with a profound knowledge of the genre) were frustrated that they couldn’t find that Partita which they couldn’t quite remember the name of. But our interanl stakeholders were ignoring one big piece of the puzzle: even if they didn't know the exact name of the Partita, aficionados would still more than likely go straight to the global search funcationality and never even see Bach's profile.

In reality, it was our "enthusiast" users – those who don’t necessarily have a strong background in the genre, but who were keen to learn – who were getting the most mileage from these profiles. They wanted a base from which to explore in a less focused way - and filters just didn't seem to fit with that need. Talking more widely with our customer service team and business intelligence units confirmed this hypothesis. I went back to our internal stakeholders with a different formulation of the problem: How might we give our enthusiast users an easier and more delightful way of finding out more about a composer?

Profile pages at the start of the project

Profile pages at the start of the project

Research

I began my research by diving into an interview I’d conducted a few weeks before with an Italian called Mario*. Mario was what we’d come to refer to as a "super-enthusiast": A user with not a great deal of knowledge or experience in classical music, but one who engages daily (if not hourly) and consumes widely. I pulled out some quotes for gaps he felt he was experiencing in his knowledge of composers, which centered around four key areas:

  • Context
  • Sound
  • Image (for memory purposes)
  • Similarity (for exploration)

Mario didn't want a deep dive into each of these, but rather a snapshot which he could briefly engage with, and then move on. In essence, the page should provide a jumping-off point to explore more and more profiles – it’s less about the listening experience and more about the educational one.

*Not his real name.

Ideation

After synthesising this research, I organised a workshop with my team to think more about these key areas. This included some storyboarding, some exploration into the information architecture, and my new favourite exercise - Evil 8s.

This session resulted in a quite a few new points of interest - including a radio function (to facilitate a 'listening snapshot'), bigger profile images (to help users remember new composers), a "similar composers" section (to help users to continue exploring), and some deeper context around the artist.

Rationalising our approaches to the problem

Rationalising our approaches to the problem

Brand tie-in

Following several discussions with our visual design team, we also felt this project was a great opportunity to better articulate our brand strategy within the product: Several users had commented that they felt a disconnect between the vibrant, edgy marketing materials and the somewhat more muted tone within the product.

Rethinking the composer image became the starting point for this exploration: The traditional way - a clickable image which expands to a popup - felt both dated and taxing on the user. Other services were doing bold half-screen take-overs – could we do the same?

The final designs alongside the original configuration

The final designs alongside the original configuration

Impact

We shipped the feature in several phases, starting with the radio. This garnered quite a lot of attention and has fast become a fan favourite:

Image placeholder

FYI: the process behind the "random music button" is dealt with in another of my portfolio projects. I did not pay this man to say these things.

Larger images went live not long after and set a tone for new brand tie-in within the app. The rest of the features are at 80% completion on Android and spreading rapidly to other platforms.

Learnings

Spend 90% of the time on the problem

By learning to question the foundations of the user and business needs, we got to a better solution.

Be bold

Solving visual problems are just as much fun as solving user problems – and like user problems, the solution doesn't have to be muted.

Know your user

These pages would have been designed very differently for different user segments. Being clear on who would be using the feature streamlined my design process.