Apollo

The best way to listen to music, together.

Overview

Music is a prominent part of many people’s lives. That being said, many encounter challenges when listening to music  including not being able to easily listen to music with others remotely, having different music tastes as friends, and struggling to discover new sounds. Apollo is a music discovery and listening platform which alleviates these struggles for users by stimulating a familiar, personalized, and collaborative experience.

Responsibilities

Product Design
User Experience
User Research
Branding
Illustration

Tools

Sketch
Illustrator

Type

Passion
Project

Duration

6 weeks

The Problem

Music listening brings people together and helps stimulate a social environment. While group music listening typically occurs in person, users struggle to find ways to listen together when they are apart. Furthermore users encounter many problems when listening the music with their friends regardless of location; this includes not having similar music tastes or not knowing lyrics to a song.

How can I design a platform that is inclusive and personalized of users' unique music tastes while improving the experience for users listening to music together both in person and virtually?

The Solution

Apollo is a music discovery and listening app that syncs to users’ Spotify or Apple Music accounts. The product creates a space for users to discover new music and artists, generate discourse, join music streams, learn lyrics and share their music tastes with others. With Apollo, users’ are greeted with a familiar, personalized, and collaborative experience that accommodates their needs.

Process Summary

Kickoff

Before heading into this project, I asked myself some questions to set up goals for the process.

Does a product like this exist already, and if so what kinds of paint points and opportunities are there?
What kinds of features would the product have that would differentiate it from competitors and existing products?
Would users use a product like this and if so, what features would they like to see?
What kinds of challenges will I encounter in designing the product?
Who are my target users and what do they care about?
How will this product be special?

Research

To launch the research phase of my process, I began with a benchmark analysis to gain a better understanding of existing music listening platforms and to see if a collaborative music listening platform already exists. From my findings, I discovered that there were a couple existing music streaming platforms however they had a lot of pain points such as poor UI, the inability to collaborate on streams and no privacy settings.

Next, I conducted user interviews to gain a better perspective of what my target users valued, what they struggled with and what they hoped for in the future. I interviewed twelve participants with six questions relating to their music habits and challenges. From this study, I realized habits and struggles that were common amongst participants. Here is a summary of my findings:

Music makes users happy and creates a safe environment for listeners to project their feelings.
For the most part, users discover new music through friends and their playlists.
When users are listening to music with friends, it happens most often in the car.
Users would love to have a chat feature in music platforms where they’re able to interact with others either through voice, video, message or reactions.
The biggest struggle that users have when listening to music with friends is different music taste. Users also struggle with music volume being too loud for their liking in social settings.

Affinity Map

I then consolidated my research findings from the benchmark analysis and my user research to create an affinity map that allowed me to gain key insights about what users value. After grouping all of my findings, there were four main themes that were clear: communication/ collaboration, familiarity, accommodation, and personalization.

Communication + Collaboration
Users need a platform that allows them to communicate with others in different ways. Users also need a way where they can collaborate with others.
Accomodation
Not all users have the same struggles. It is important to be able to accomodate to users struggles such as learning lyrics for a song, adjusting music volume, being able to upload your own music etc.
Familiarity
A familiar UX is important in a functional and user friendly music listening platform. Not to mention music listening platforms are information heavy, making the need for a simple, clean, and organized UI necessary.
Personalization
Each user has their own unique music taste and preferences. It’s important that each users’ unique music taste is showcased, and users’ are able to personalize their accounts to their liking.

User Personas +
Empathy Mapping

After my preliminary research, I was able to solidify my target users. I created three user personas that outlined their background, motivations and frustrations. I also created empathy maps to better understand what these users would say, feel, do and think.

Information
Architecture

After my research and ideation work, I began my prototyping phase by organizing the information architecture of the product. This was altered all throughout the prototyping phase as I realized I needed more features than I initially thought.

User Scenarios

Design Decision 1

Where is the best way to place shared music between friends?
Being able to quickly access shared music was an important feature I wanted to implement when I first created my system map. My first iteration had the shared music as a tab in the inbox page, allowing users to view all shared music, artists, and streams at once. In my second iteration, I removed the shared tab from the inbox instead letting users send shared music through messages. This allowed users to create discussion around shared music. In my final design, I decided with the second iteration as generating discourse around music would be valuable and important to users. It also creates a way for users to discuss music outside of streams.
Final

Design Decision 2

How can I organize different kinds of music streams as well as favourite songs, artists and playlists?
Finding a way to display music i.e. types of streams and favourite or saved music in the profile page was the most difficult design decision I had to make. This was difficult because there were a lot of different ways to do this and I wanted to decide on a way that organized the information clearly, making it easy for users to find what they were looking for. My iterations explored using an in profile navigation, icons to organize types of streams, drop down menus, and a separate screen for favorited music. In my final design, I decided to have streams displayed on the users profile with a drop down filter so that users can filter through types of streams they would like to see. Favourite music (artists, songs, albums, and playlists) can then be accessed through a button above the streams. This makes it easy for users to sync and save music from apollo to other music platforms.
Final

Design Decision 3

How can I implement a chat/video chat feature in the stream player that is easily accessible?
Communication with friends and other users during streams is one of Apollo’s main features. It’s important that the chat is easily accessible as users may want to quickly send and reply to messages mid song. In my exploration, I was debating between including the chat as a tab besides the queue below the music player, having it as a separate screen accessible through a button, or having it as a swipe up sticky screen. In my final design, I placed the chat as a tab besides the queue button that would be accessible by swiping down. This lets users quickly switch between the stream viewer, the queue, and the chat with one interaction.
Final

Next Steps

Apollo was a passion project that I worked on throughout my free time throughout the past two months. It was definitely a challenge as I had to work on it by myself from start to finish. That being said, I’m glad I challenged myself because I was able to learn new softwares like sketch and Invision, and also taught myself new research steps like affinity mapping. I really enjoyed affinity mapping as a part of my design process as it helped me narrow down key insights from my research. These insights helped lead my ideation process. Next steps for this project include developing a fully functional prototype, and conducting usability testing to make revised changes. I also would like to design a tablet and desktop version of the product.

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