Service Design
  July, 2017

Better User Experience through user engagement

Stephen Dickens

A friend recently asked me what my most used app was. It was an interesting question to ponder. I use Slack, Google News, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook everyday, but none of them come close to how much time is spent using Spotify. I like to use it in the morning along side my Ultimate Ears (UE) wireless speaker to get the family up and running and somedays we can even squeeze in a mini dance session. If I am not binging on a podcast, it’s very likely I get in my car, tap the Spotify logo and select a band or a playlist I made ( or even my 5yo helped create). I've had a premium account ($10/per month) for a few years now and haven't been disappointed.

Most recently my 5yo son said, “Daddy can you put on that new new Arcade Fire track?” “Sure, no problem”, I say. "Daddy, as soon as it's over, can you play it again?" "Um, yea, sure, why not", I say to him. As soon as I drop my kids off at school, I’ll pick something else to play for the duration of my commute. While I am at my office, I’ll cue up a downtempo playlist titled BoomPing, which has artists such as, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin and Amon Tobin. Perfect playlist to keep me focused and motivated throughout the day.

Needless to say, I use Spotify a lot. I suppose the persona I am fulfilling is: I am a big music nerd, I buy vinyl records regularly, but I also get great satisfaction of searching and sifting around various genres and stumbling onto something along the way.

According to Spotify’s website, as of March 2017, they had 50 million paid customers and over 140 million active users as of June 2017. Spotify’s reach is also growing in 60 international markets. When compared to Apple Music, I prefer Spotify’s minimal visual design with the charcoal gray background and off-white text, as opposed to Apple Music’s standard white background. Over the last few years, I feel Spotify's UI has improved for certain features, but definitely not for all. I still wish there were more options to customize the layout, but I can live without it.

Fast facts

  • Subscribers: Over 50 millian (as of March 2017)
  • Active users: Over 140 million (as of June 2017)
  • Revenue paid to rightsholders: $5bn (as of September 2016)
  • Number of songs: Over 30 million
  • Number of playlist: Over 2 billion
  • Available in 60 markets - Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, EI Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, iceland, Indonesia, ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, Uruguay and USA.

He one area I am rather puzzled over is why Spotify hasn’t offered more interactivity with the Friend Activity feature.

If you’re not familiar with Spotify, Friend Activity allows you to see what your friends are listening to, however I never seem to feel it updates in real time (you have to manually refresh the page).

Friend Activity is a great way to snoop on your friends music taste and at the same time find something new to listen to.

What if, while a user is listening and actively engaged in the UI, he/she will see a friend listening to something on the right side of the screen and may want to give a thumbs-up or may want to make a comment on something they are listening to.

It would also be great to drag songs we think our friends would like into a playlist repository and we can add a message saying, “check this out!” Spotify gives significant real estate to the right side Friend Activity, so there’s plenty of room to add additional features to allow users to engage what their friends are listening to.

Do I need more interaction functionality in Friend Activity in order to keep using Spotify. No! Would I enjoy using it regularly? Absolutely!

Stephen Dickens

Stephen Dickens

User Experience Strategist for Think Design at their newly established Denver, Colorado studio. Stephen draws upon his 10+ years of cognitive behavioral experience to understand and strategize how and why users experience the digital and physical world.


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