Spotify is a global leader in music streaming with a 40% market share servicing 232 million active users.
The challenge was to remove barriers between low-effort users and a beautiful music experience, without compromising the tailoring options which high-effort audiophiles currently enjoy.
In response Spotify built a prototype of a simplified music streaming service which starts playing music instantly and has an interface reminiscent of scanning across radio stations. Originally titled Zero Tap Radio, this is now known as Stations by Spotify.
Spotify engaged U1 to conduct contextual research to deepen their understanding of the needs and motivations of low effort users in the Australian market whilst also identifying opportunities for improvement in the user experience of their proposed app.
Working closely with the New York based design team, U1 conducted 24 contextual inquiries across Melbourne with participants identified as probable ‘low-effort’ users. U1 consultants visited the 24 participants in their homes or at their place of work to reach a rich understanding of the behaviours and values engaging with music.
Each visit explored;
- Discussion around personal life, hobbies, and technology usage and integration.
- A current state music experience: exploring where, when, why, and how users were listening to music. Their music goals, pain points, device and source preference were discussed.
- Ideal future state music experience exploration, discussing how users envision the future of music engagement.
- Reactions to Spotify Stations prototype. Participants used the prototype and provided their first impressions and discussed what worked well and what could be improved.
In addition to the contextual inquiries, U1 developed a detailed ‘Cultural Landscape’ report. This highlighted the emotional values and transactional behaviours of Australian users which may peripherally influence a user’s engagement with a new app driven musical experience.
For example, the desire for ‘a fair go’ among Australian consumers who often experience limited access to entertainment content due to regional licensing laws. Similarly, the high price of mobile data plans in Australia compared to other markets can influence streaming decisions among Australian consumers.
U1 delivered a detailed report of evidence backed design recommendations to improve the user experience. The report uncovered the pain points currently experienced by potential users and explored the ways in which Stations by Spotify can solve those pain points.
The report also detailed participant’s first reactions to the prototype, and any opportunities to improve the usability of the app.
Four personas were created to help illustrate user values and when paired with the cultural landscape report, ensured the international team was well prepared to empathise with and keep the user at the centre the design decision making process,
The Stations by Spotify app was released on schedule and received immediate praise, currently it is rated at 4.7 on the Apple app store and 4.4 on Google Play.