The Modern Approach to Discover Music

Overview Steps

Domain Research: Begin by understanding the current landscape of music apps.
Problem Definition: Identify gaps in music discovery and the emotional connect of existing platforms.
Product Purpose: Establish a product that caters to these gaps.
Prioritization: Understand which features are crucial and which can be developed later.
Simplification of Roadmap: Streamline the development journey.
Increasing Impact: Aim for the product to make a genuine difference in the users' music experience.


User Experience Design
Product Strategy
User Interface Design
Visual DesignFrontend Development (using Swift)


1 Designer (me)
2 Engineers


After my tenure as a Sr. UX Designer at SAP in 2015, I collaborated with AJ Asver, the mind behind 'Just Spotted' (which Google acquired), and Julien Gaillard, Senior Data Scientist at Twitter. Our bond was formed over mutual frustrations with the current state of music discovery.

Our conversations began with evaluating the existing apps in the music domain. While there were plenty of choices, a significant gap persisted: the emotional relationship we share with music was largely untouched.


From our perspective, SoundCloud and Spotify took the lion's share of the music streaming market. When a more curated radio experience was sought after, Songza, Pandora, and iMusic seemed to be the favorites. Each platform had its distinct flavor, yet there was a shared flaw. None could replicate the emotional connection music offers. Each interaction felt mechanical, leading to more time searching than enjoying. Through our discussions, we identified multiple features conspicuously absent from these platforms.


Understanding Value: How can we determine what each user truly values in their music experience?
Emotional Complexity: Navigating the intricate emotional web of users is challenging. How do we ensure our recommendations resonate with their feelings?
Mood Selection: Do users want to actively select their mood, or should the app intuitively understand and curate playlists?
Engagement Enhancement: How can we make users spend more time enjoying the music rather than searching for it?


Emotional Resonance
: Provide users with music that aligns with and enhances their present emotional state or experiences.User Retention: Achieve over a 50% success rate with music recommendations, ensuring that users keep returning. User Insight: Gain an understanding of users' music preferences, the timings, and contexts in which they listen.

Supporting New Talent: Create an avenue for new artists to gain exposure and potentially generate revenue.


Interface:Daily Song Deliverance: Users are presented with new music in their track stream every day, visualized like a CD/Vinyl stack or carousel.Minimalistic Approach: The app is simple, with only two screens. One for the daily track stream and the other as an archive for the user's favorite tracks.Music Player Integration: While the discovery happens on our platform, all music plays are redirected to user’s existing music apps such as Youtube, Spotify, iTunes, Google Music, etc. (Considering an initial partnership with Spotify).Interactive Feedback: Users can interact with the songs by swiping while it plays. A right swipe "hearts" a song, saving it to their library, while a left swipe removes it from the feed.


Sketching: My design journey always begins analog. Whether it's napkin scribbles or detailed Moleskine wireframes, the tactile process of drawing helps me visualize and ideate better.
Digital Iteration: Once satisfied with the paper designs, I transition them into digital format using tools like Sketch or Illustrator.
Journey Mapping & Prototyping: I meticulously charted out user journeys, designed wireframes, and created prototypes to visualize the app's flow.


These rudimentary, skeletal layouts were paramount for the project. Wireframes allowed for rapid iteration, enabling quick modifications and improvements. With a functional prototype at hand, we conducted preliminary user testing, gaining invaluable feedback.
Collaboration: A significant part of this project's success was the close-knit collaboration with engineers. They brought my designs to life, ensuring our shared vision for the app was realized.

User flows

Initial Ideation:Upon establishing our use cases, our next immediate step was constructing user flows. These are vital, as they illustrate the path a user would typically take within our app to complete specific tasks.
Whiteboarding: A Fluid Start:Whiteboarding was our initial medium of choice. Its vast canvas provided the flexibility to brainstorm and rapidly modify our flows, catering to spontaneous ideas and alterations. Here, every stroke and erasure represented our dedication to creating a seamless user experience.
Transitioning to Digital: Sketch as Our Tool:As our ideas matured, we needed a tool that would offer precision and detail. Sketch, being a robust design tool, seemed an apt choice. Not only did it allow us to refine our flows but also provided a platform where we could introduce intricate details, further solidifying our vision.
Freedom with Responsibility:Designing in-house, we were unhindered by external restrictions, granting us immense freedom in our decision-making process. But with this liberty came responsibility. Every feature, every interaction point was scrutinized. Would it enhance user experience? Was it integral to our app's essence? These were questions we constantly posed.
Trimming the Fat: Essentialism in Design:Realizing the potential pitfall of overwhelming users with a barrage of features, we opted for essentialism. We undertook a rigorous exercise to strip down features, retaining only those that resonated with our core objectives and added genuine value to the user experience. It wasn't about merely removing elements; it was about emphasizing the essentials, ensuring each retained feature was purposeful and impactful.

Live Demo

Live Demo with Sound

Lessons Learned

1. The Power of Designer-Engineer Collaboration:Having a balanced ratio of designers to engineers fostered an environment where design decisions were quickly translated into functional prototypes. This collaborative approach led to rapid iterations and a synergy that made problem-solving more fluid.

2. Resource Constraints & Prioritization:Starting from zero forced us to prioritize ruthlessly. It wasn't about what we wanted to build but what we needed to build. Every resource, be it time or money, was precious, making us evaluate each design and functional choice critically.

3. Speed is Crucial:In the startup world, being first to market can mean the difference between success and obscurity. This project reinforced the importance of building efficiently and launching swiftly.

4. The Importance of Communication:Working in a compact team removed the luxury of being passive or indirect. Clear communication was essential. It's astounding how many issues arise from simple misunderstandings. Being proactive in addressing concerns head-on saved countless hours and potential mishaps.

5. Physical Proximity Matters:In an era of remote work and digital communication, nothing beats sitting side by side with your colleague. This project reaffirmed the value of immediate, face-to-face interactions, especially in a dynamic environment where quick decisions were the norm.

6. Regular Check-ins Boost Productivity:Daily stand-ups ensured alignment. They were quick, efficient, and ensured everyone was on the same page, leading to reduced friction and increased productivity.

7. Adaptability in Team Dynamics: Working in a startup is drastically different from a corporate setting. It requires adaptability and a more human-centric approach. Emotions, personal challenges, and work pressures coalesce, making empathy and understanding vital.

The Office