Adding a feature to remedy existing user frustrations

The development of the Spotify platform is an ongoing evolution of user accommodation. For this project, I explored the topic of sharing music and looked to identify problems within this space that could be improved upon. After extensive interviewing with avid Spotify users, I experimented with different ways to solve the existing issues users face by implementing a new feature that hopefully would provide a better overall experience for users, and their protocol with sharing music through the platform. I was the sole designer for this hypothetical project that lasted a duration of 4 weeks.

interaction design
UI design
user testing


The only constant is change.

Music is a central part of many people’s lives. We grow up with a connection to the artists we love and the songs we know by heart. The way music is consumed has changed drastically over the last couple of decades. Years ago, we would cram our CD cases full of all our favorite albums so that we could switch between records while riding in the car. Eventually, technology progressed enough for people to digitize their albums by uploading them to the computer and be played from the desktop. This digital revolution brought along the ability for people to burn their own CDs, making playlists and mixtapes easily sharable with friends.

Along came the iPod - an impressive new invention that meant you could keep all your albums in your pocket, at all times. This coincided with a major change in acquiring music: illegal downloading and piracy. In the beginning, this created a lot of problems - as artists and record labels were concerned about people stealing the music they were selling in stores. Slowly our world started to shift towards an acceptance of this and a general opinion that music should be available to everyone.


As the internet developed further, streaming services surfaced and created a major change in the way we consume music, as well as the ways it is shared. Gone are the days of making someone a mixtape or burning a mix CD. These days we share YouTube links or DM someone a track that just came on our shuffle. There are now practically infinite ways to share music, and we wanted to explore the methods that people are using Spotify to share their selections.


We set out to improve the user’s sharing experience. This began by speaking directly with some avid users about their protocol with sharing music through the platform. After a few rounds of user interviews, it was observed that the most common way users are sharing music is either in a direct message or an Instagram Story.

People like Messenger
because it has a player
in the app window

Instagram Stories are the
preferred way to share with
a wide audience

Sharing a link via text
is a reliable way to send
song directly to a friend


Uncovering the real issue: delivery.

As we spoke with members about their sharing methods, the same issue kept popping up. Oddly enough, it was found that the problem was occurring on the the receiver end and not the sender end. The sender is frustrated that the song they share “may not even work” and their friend may be inconvenienced when all they were trying to do was show them a cool song.

We found many inconsistencies in the ways shares were received through Messenger. Sometimes people received a player, sometimes just a link. If the Receiver is not a Spotify member, it often takes the Receiver to an Artist Radio and not the actual song. Something positive we heard from many people was that the integration with social media apps works great and is very useful.


At Spotify, our ultimate goal is to acquire more monthly users by offering them a free account and access to endless music. The next step is offering more listening ability with the paywall of subscribing monthly to a Premium Account. The ability to listen to any song of choice is something we want to keep limited to our Premium members.

By limiting our users to send only a preview of the song, we hope to attract new members to sign up for an account. These business strategies were kept in mind as we moved forward in the next stage where ideas were generated.


Doing user interviews was very insightful for helping learn about the ways people use the platform for sharing, and the frustrations along that path. Next, a persona was formed to represent a Spotify user who finds much value in sharing music with others. Moving forward, we used Imani as our example of the target user we would be solving for.


Imagining the actual scenario.

We started to think about the real life situations Imani might face with sharing music. To better illustrate this, I drew out a storyboard to display a series of events and identify at which step the problem arises.

Here we can see that when Imani is on a jog, she stumbles upon a song she loves and wants to share it with a friend who is also a dancer. After making the share, her friend tries to play it - but the link doesn’t work. She later tries on her laptop and is able to hear a 30 second clip from her Messenger window. Turns out, the preview was from the intro of the song, which is quite drawn out and doesn’t include much of what Imani wanted to show her.


Generating ideas in a structured way.

After gaining a thorough understanding of our target user and the frustrations they experience, it was time to come up with some ideas. First step was to investigate ways we might approach solving these problems. After listing about 20 different "How Might We" statements, I pinpointed the most useful propositions that could direct my brainstorming.

how might we?

•   how might we unify the way shares are received so that there is consistency across different devices and platforms?
•   how might we let our users customize the section of previews the send out to friends?
•   how might we enable our users to share a song directly to their Instagram story and select which area of the song to use?

To dig up some ideas, I performed an ideation exercise known as Crazy 8’s - set a timer for 30 seconds and sketch an idea within that time frame. When the timer is up, start with a fresh idea for the next 30 seconds. This was repeated multiple times to create 8 different sketches within just 5 minutes. The same 5 minute exercise was repeated a few more times. The focus was to rapidly produce a variety of solution ideas and not necessarily sketch out a defined path. Let the ideas come to you.


After an analysis of my drawings and distinguishing the best ideas,
it was evident that they could be arranged as wireframes into a journey map.

This looked like a waveform selector screen with an additional method-of-share screen. When the user finds a song they would like to share, they are then directed to a screen where a waveform is displayed and can be adjusted to signify a specific section of the song. Next page would be to select the method of sharing such as direct message, copy link, etc. This was later condensed into a single screen to maintain simplicity within the platform. The final screens would be on the receiver end and what they would see as their player window.

The new implementation would allow the sender to customize the preview they are sending - removing the chance that the preview may not be relevant to what they wanted to share. It also could enable a pre-loaded section into an Instagram Story to be autoplayed instead of the previous way, just a link within a Story. These exercises were a creative way to explore my brain's reaction to the problems I found when talking to users. Luckily, it provided me with a clear path in sight.

interaction design
UI design


Mapping a two-part journey.

Now that I had a proposed solution in mind, the next step was to map out the user flow. In this situation, it was necessary to create a two-part flow, one for the Receiver in addition to our primary user, the Sender.


Digital Brainstorming: bringing the idea to life.

The initial 2 screens were sketched out to understand what all elements must be present on these screens to provide maximum functionality while maintaining a minimal design.

Next, renditions were made to experiment with functionality and placement of a Selection Editor.

To simplify, I decided to reduce this down to a single screen to keep the action changes minimal. I also wanted the user to be able to tap through without making a selection, which would be no additional steps from the old way of sharing.


Complexity within simplicity.

Receiver's View

From the Messenger window, the share can be played within the message.

Here the Receiver can access additional music via the Artist Radio button that will take them to a player in a browser window.

The share also comes with a promotional offering of a 3 month trial with a Premium Account to the Receiver who is not a Spotify member.

user testing

Now that we had our screens, it was time to test the design. I devised a flow that would check if the process aligned with the user's current route, and also tested if the interactions and information on the new Selection Editor screen were understood properly. A high-fidelity prototype was produced with InVision to test the usability of the new feature.


Clarification is key.

We received good feedback overall about the learnability of the new Selection Editor. All participants understood what it was and how to use it. Some comments were made that maybe an introductory screen the first time someone uses the new feature would help clarify its purpose. We also decided to add the option for users to opt-out of displaying the Selection Editor in case they preferred the old method.

Introductory Screen

The first time a users sees the Selection Editor, it is now preceded with a quick info slide.


The next step would be to introduce this feature to a select set of beta testers to see how this new implementation is used in the real world, on a daily basis. Feedback would be collected by interviewing users and also gathering analytics, so that further iterations could be make to form an even stronger product.


This project was started with no specific outcome in sight, and it gave me the chance to really dive deep into actual user experiences. Coming to the table with a genuine curiosity about people's habits was essential to producing a solution I felt was useful to real Spotify members. I really enjoyed the brainstorming exercises that came to fruition in this project, and they are now implemented into my arsenal of design tools and strategy.

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