Endlesss.fm

Endlesss love: Music making app UX Case Study

UX RESEARCH // UX DESIGN // UI DESIGN

Live music used to be everywhere: in the streets, homes, pubs and everyone was jamming, not just professionals. When recorded music came along, we lost that spontaneity.

Endlesss are addressing this by bringing live jamming to your smartphone. You can make and share music at the moment, solo or with friends. Turn music-making into a conversation that everyone can take part in, wherever, whenever the ultimate goal.

Challenge

Our team had the opportunity to add a discovery feature to the app enabling users to explore music outside their current circle of friends. A key consideration was to avoid the stress on metrics, gamification and toxic behaviours that social networking apps can promote.

Process

Methodology: Lean UX - double diamond // Timeframe: 3 weeks // Team: 3 UX designers

Role: Facilitator / Research / Ideation / UI lead

Research

Competitive Analysis

After sitting down with the stakeholders to dissect the brief and gain their assumptions we began our competitive analysis. We targeted three key platform types with a slightly different approach to each.

Social media: Search and discover are structured in similar ways. Metrics play a huge part as expected. Some have in thread search functions and all rely heavily on the classic search bar.

Streaming: Results were based on users habits and algorithm suggestions - which can be too generic at times. Music making: The overall emphasis of these platforms was making full music tracks so that differed majorly from the core basis of Endlesss.

User Research

Using a screener and Endlesss's facebook groups and slack channels we targeted the core userbase of Endlesss - music makers.

As well as gaining insights of peoples music habits we were looking to find people who had been in band/s or collaborated as well as made music digitally to conduct user interviews.

I miss playing more collectively. Time is a factor.

We collated over 350 hours of user interviews with a variety of music makers. In one day I managed to speak to an Executive producer, international DJ, part-time musician as well as a psychotherapist who uses music to help treat serious cases of mental illness. I love this job!

Synthesis

Through the process of affinity mapping, we were able to pick out some key trends with regards to their music discovery habits.

  • People value friends recommendations and non-mainstream radio as a way of finding new music.
  • Spotify is the popular choice for digital streaming services, with different filters available.
  • People like to go on a spontaneous journey of discovery, moving from one link to another.
  • Music is very personal to the creator and it ties in tightly with their state of mind and emotions.
  • Instagram scored highest with music makers for discovering and sharing music interests.

  • We created a persona, Matt, a professional 'music-making geek' to help the team focus on the core Endlesss user throughout our process from here on.

    To help us better understand Matt's current journey, thought processes and emotions we created a user journey and experience map.

    Matts currently discovery journey and experience.

    Ideation

    After presenting our findings to the Endlesss Team we conducted a design studio together with the aid of our user scenario that tied into the client's desire to avoid addictive behaviours.

    Matt is looking for new riffs and artists to collaborate with on Endlesss. Matt's happy going through a rabbit hole of discovery where he is on a spontaneous journey of choice.

    CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT: Histogram of riffs where you could track each addition along the way // Random suggestions to take users out of their bubble // Connected link searching where one link would lead to another // QR code style location based jamsAfter rounds of sketching and dot voting, we left with the best ideas to conduct our own ideation session. At this stage, we also introduced a how might we, to focus our attention on the ultimate goal.

    We then narrowed down our concepts and features using a prioritisation matrix where then went through two further rounds of focused sketching, dot voting on solutions.

    Prioritisation matrix

    We updated Matt's user journey based on a new happy path.

    Matt's new user journey.

    Where we could then create userflow and wireflows.

    We were now able to push forward and produce our paper prototype where we could gain user insights as quickly as possible with the use of the Marvel app.

    Paper Prototype. LEFT: News feed based around bands(jams), location-based jams and related/trending/randomised hashtags. MIDDLE: Heat maps for locations RIGHT: Live jam in action

    Object-oriented approach

    The paper prototype tested fairly well but we jumped ahead too soon into features and neglected the core functionality. So, we switched our attention to object-oriented thinking.

    OOUX: putting object design before procedural action design, and thinking about a system through the lens of the real-world objects in a user's mental model (products, tutorials, locations), not digital-world actions (search, filter, compare, check out).
    Sophia Voychehovski Prater

     
  • What does music as chat look like when we open it up?
  • What does privacy in a group look like when you have been in a closed group for so long?
  • Which riffs are private and which are shared?
  • Which riffs do you see in the feed and can anyone edit your riffs you post?
  • Happier with the foundations we had now built we moved onto our low-fi sketch prototype.

    Iteration

    Four rounds of testing followed each time with 5–6 users collating our finding through each stage.

    Some of the key design decisions point along the way.

    What am I looking - I'm confused. Are they the same?

    Users were confused separating the news feed, collection of riffs and jams so we quickly introduced a navigation bar which tested well with users throughout.

    A tab bar was also introduced for jams to address the increasing number of private and public jams in the future.

    Group public riff sharing iteration along with help and notifications

    I feel very uneasy with only admin controlling this function. Do I not have a say?

    Users felt having the public riff sharing in the hands of one admin. The introduction of each member having to opt-in tested well and made sense for the majority of users

    Some confusion existed with what riff sharing was and how it worked. Riffbot would be on hand to advise and send group notifications when changes were made.

    I think I'd like to follow them first. Maybe later I'd invite to jam but I'd want to wait and know more Most of the users wanted to follow first.

    They also wanted a more curated showcase that the user could control rather than the latest.

    Artists location was not only important but exciting for the users to know.

    Just because something has 1 like compared to 4 million it doesn't make it any less good. It can influence people for the wrong reasons

    Users wanted feedback on their work but it needed to be a way that didn't make them feel judged or a competition. We went with the concept of applause but without the metrics.

    Users also needed confirmation when sending their riffs to the news feed. This gave us the perfect opportunity to achieve this whilst also giving some positive reinforcement in the form of a high five.

    Users liked the idea they could see the friends of the musicians they collaborate with. We introduced the second connection news feed concept.

    Final prototype

    I personally took the prototype from it's Mid to Hi-fidelity state.

    Link to InVision prototype

    What's next

  • Release public riff sharing capabilities and news feed alongside existing Endlesss features and test.
  • Release global search and public jam features.
  • Further research and development for the discover section features especially with regards to achieving business goals.
  • Target wider audiences outside of core music makers.
  • Reflection

    Whilst there were many accomplishments it is by no means a perfect solution. Knowing what I know now I would have approached the design solutions from object-oriented level sooner. More targeted research around users social habits would have enabled more in-depth solutions for likes without the metrics which I think could be stronger. I also have a much better understanding of the complex core functionality of the app which would influence some of the new feature integration.

    Feedback is welcomed and encouraged so please share it. I'm also happy to answer any questions you may have. Please find me at hello@martinrobertson.design

    Idea? Opportunity? Chat?

    If you have a project or position you wish to discuss then please drop me a line. I'm currently available for freelance, contract and permanent roles.

    Email: hello@martinrobertson.design Call: 07515 886 897