Artist Website Development
I’d like to preface this case study by stating that my intentions behind redesigning Apple Music were in no way driven by indignation or spite.
Earlier this year I applied and interviewed for a graphic design internship at Apple Music (an opportunity of a lifetime), and was turned down with a very kind letter stating that although they liked my work, they wanted to see more growth and training.
At first, I was frustrated — Northwestern University doesn’t offer any sort of undergraduate graphic design program, so whatever growth they were looking for would have to be self taught…
…but as soon as I came to this realization, I became inspired to embark on what became a a three-month long journey to the holy grail — the iOS app that Apple Music deserves.
For me, this was an opportunity to really dig my teeth into UX research and design, an excuse to spend way too much time on Sketch and Principle, a reason to bore everyone around me with my notebook of crudely drawn wireframes 😂…
What you’ll find below is a case study offering potential solutions to address some of Apple Music’s problems, as well as ideas for future development. My process was guided by qualitative user research, Apple’s official Design Principles, and my own designer intuition.
As a designer with a background in music composition and performance, I have always been passionate about experiences that marry music and technology. Through design, I hope to one day make the experience of music more accessible and enjoyable.
However, Apple Music has always frustrated me. What was meant to be the service to convert everyone in the world to streaming is going through puberty — a phrase which here means steadily maturing yet unattractive compared to the adults in the game (aka Spotify).
To better understand Apple Music, I took a trip down memory lane and revisited its inception. Plagued with a notoriously confusing interface and a half-baked visual identity, Apple Music’s first identity was the culprit of many headaches.
Thank you, Lana Del Rey and Wayback Machine
With iOS10, Apple released a much-needed update based on the principles of Complexion Reduction.
Peep that incredible Pentatonix artwork by my dear friend and mentor Annie Stoll
While this new interface was much easier to navigate, I still felt that there was room for improvement. Despite its simplified color palette and enlarged typography, the interface felt cluttered and even claustrophobic — a far cry from Apple’s usual elegance.
I approached my redesign in three steps, while conducting research throughout:
- Core Experience
- Brand Identity
- Visual Interface
1. Core Experience: Music Discovery
One of the first things that I found out was that users of streaming services generally fell somewhere on the following spectrum:
Tag yourself; I’m the ambiguous greige area
- Have a large library that they add to from time to time
- Are more selective about what they listen to
- Rely on playlists/curated content
- Are probably already using Spotify
Apple Music sits at the Hoarder side of the spectrum. Open an Apple Music playlist and you’ll probably find this in the description:
If you hear something you like, add it to your library.
Treating playlists as tools to discover new music is an approach that makes sense given Apple Music’s pastlife as iTunes. However, the way that playlists are currently implemented feels very tacked on. I found that users weren’t comfortable with adding entire playlists to their personal libraries, especially if said playlists were constantly updating.
If Apple Music wants to expand to the nomadic side of the spectrum, they have to do it in a way that brings their existing user base along. This means creating a music discovery experience centered on artists and albums instead of playlists. Enter… My Sampler
My Sampler is a new experience made to bridge the gap between Hoarders and Nomads, replacing the current “New Music Mix.” It was born out of the understanding that users who are picky about what goes into their library would also be more reluctant to sit through an entire playlist full of new music. A better experience would be presenting snippets — or samples — of curations that gives the user just enough information to decide whether or not to add it into their library and weekly playlist.
Upon entering the Sampler, the user is presented with a series of artist headshots that correspond to a curated song. The user can tap and hold to preview 15 seconds of each song, before swiping up to reject the song or swiping down to add the song to their library.
Music for the Tinder generation
I chose to use gestural interaction so that users can use the Sampler even if they’re not looking at the screen. Once the user has finished sampling, their selections are used to create a New Music Mix that the user can listen to.
The mechanics behind this experience was inspired by the following quote captured in an interview:
“Apple is underestimating the power of gamification.”— UX designer and Apple Music user I interviewed in LA
I have come to understand that, through a gamified experience, the user is able to establish an immediate connection to the music they discover. In addition, the Sampler has the potential to provide Apple Music a constant stream of information regarding listener preferences, allowing the app to evolve and grow with the user.
2. Brand Identity
During my internship at Sony Music, I learned that a brand’s visual presence in a streaming service must be recognizable yet invisible at the same time. Spotify does this very well in their use of halftone photography and “Bursts” in their playlist album artwork.
In comparison, Apple Music’s visual branding has right now is kind of all over the place:
There’s a mix of symbols, 3D typography, and black & white photography.
In addition, there are collage-themed covers that don’t really communicate anything about the mood/feel of the playlist.
The main issue seems to be Apple Music throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, instead of really developing a consistent visual language that signifies Apple’s presence in the app amongst a sea of album artwork.
My solution was built on the following principle:
Album Artwork should be treated as part of the UI, and not a stand-alone visual component.
Artist Spotlight Artwork:
Inspired by Apple Music’s Welcome Screen, I chose to showcase artist headshots within a circular motif. The circle shape was inspired by the iPod clickwheel — an iconic part of Apple’s music legacy. The “face inside a circle” motif is also seen other aspects of iOS, most notably Contacts.
In addition, I chose San Francisco so that the Artist Spotlight artwork would harmonize with the UI. Lastly, I limited the color palette to different shades/tones of blue, violet, and red to reflect the Apple Music Icon.
Curated Playlist Artwork:
For Curated Playlists, I wanted the look to be consistent with Artist Spotlights while showcasing an aspect of the playlist’s mood/vibe through use of color. More vibrant images are displayed against a backdrop of the same image with a gaussian blur filter (inspired by iOS’s background blurs). For certain covers, I also added a subtle gradient of Apple Music’s signature red to add a sense of dimension.
Core Playlist Artwork:
Finally, I updated the centered graphics for some of the core playlists with the same typography used for the Artist Spotlights and Curations.
I think this new branding scheme harmonizes well with the rest of the UI, and am curious to see if this circular motif could also be somehow animated upon user input…
3. Visual Interface
The chief complaint I heard about the current interface was that it felt too sterile and lacked an element of delight. To begin resolving this, I optimized white space through subtle app-wide adjustments as demonstrated below:
Above: shameless advertising for EXID
I didn’t think major alterations to the Library tab were necessary, so I limited the changes to the standard white space and typesize adjustments. I removed Downloaded Music as a default menu option because I think the app should self-adjust what music the user is able to access based on the availability of LTE/WiFi.
Below are some subtle animation details (present in all tabs) I added to make the app feel less sterile.
The round corners of the app already make it look bouncy, why not make it feel bouncy as well?
“For You” is the beating heart of Apple Music. It’s where Apple Music gets to flex how much it knows about the user by curating playlists and albums based on what the user has “Loved.”
I received a ton of feedback on how random the current “For You” felt, so for my redesign I aimed to reduce the amount of content thrown at the user while increasing the relevance of whatever’s left… like Facebook and Instagram’s “Top Posts.”
The redesigned “For You” begins with “My Sampler” in lieu of the current “My Favorites Mix” and “My New Music Mix”. “Recently Played” is kept intact, as users found it to be quite useful.
Scrolling down, you’ll find that I’ve changed the “Insert Day of the Week Here — Playlists” to a specific Mood that will adjust based on location, time, and recent social media activity.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if, immediately after checking into a café on Facebook, Apple Music updates this Mood section to Focus/Study playlists?If we’re sharing our entire lives on social media anyway, might as well get something out of it, you feel?
Below that is the Daily Stream, an example of how exclusive video content can be pushed to the user based on their preferences. For example, I really like Katy Perry, so if a Katy Perry episode of Carpool Karaoke is released, the Call-To-Action can be changed to place the emphasis on Katy’s appearance.
This hasn’t technically been released yet but please let this be true.
Afterwards, you’ll find the classic Artist Spotlights, which I kept in this demo to show how the new visual branding schemes works in harmony with the rest of the UI.
And last but not least, users get a preview of their most-loved/played genres so that they have quick access to more music if nothing in the For You feed was able to pique their interest.
I couldn’t think of a good instrument for Pop, hence the bubble gumBut whatever happened to Connect?
Good question. Truth is, I didn’t see any data from my research that would justify keeping the Connect feed in the app as is. Users were more interested in connecting with friends and family through music (a la Spotify) instead of with artists through a watered-down Twitter.
I think Apple should focus on integrating existing social media with Apple Music instead of trying to push yet another one on its already overburdened consumers.
Image credit to Paramount Pictures/Mean Girls
The majority of feedback I received regarding the current Browse screen was that it felt too sterile and uninviting. Some users also expressed confusion regarding the differences between “For You” and “Browse.”
My solution was to redesign the Feature Slides in the style of Apple’s Website — Jumbo slides that fill the viewport width, with a horizontal indicator of where the user is in the slideshow. I believe this change makes Featured content feel more inviting and less intrusive/random.
I also merged the Radio menu into the existing Browse menu.
This conveniently makes room for the Watch tab…
Earlier this year, Apple confirmed that Apple Music was expanding into video streaming content in an effort to turn Apple Music into a pop-culture central. I was curious how this will play out especially in the context of the mobile app, so I created a separate tab specifically for browsing exclusive video content and music videos.
An added bonus of dedicating a tab to Video is that “Browse” can be reserved exclusively for audio content.
There will eventually be enough content to justify a dedicated tab, but for now I based my design decisions on leaked information as well as Apple Music’s existing visual language.
The main problem with how Apple Music handles search right now is that it is based on a mode system: where you can either search in Apple Music or your library — but not both.
Two years into using this app, I still find myself getting frustrated at being in the wrong mode, especially since the Library mode handles keywords differently:
This is especially annoying because there’s a high potential for input error, especially if the user is looking up a new song or artist not yet in their library.
My solution was to merge the two modes into one general “search” that displays results from the user’s library first, followed by anything else that is available on Apple Music.
Is it obvious that I’m a huge fan of Lady Gaga?
Support for fuzzy keywords should extend to the user’s Library content. It will also be interesting to see if results for keywords relating to moods or activities can be implemented in the future.
I like what Apple has done with the Now Playing screen, and didn’t think any major adjustments were necessary. I decided to keep most of the visual interface as is. However, I thought a great way to build upon the existing experience would be to incorporate some simple gesture interactions.
To many users, myself included, the necessity of “training” Apple Music through the “Love” and “Dislike” commands was unclear. This can be partially attributed to be how well said commands are hidden; the process of “loving” a song on mobile requires users to open a separate menu — a tedious process that trivializes its impact.
“If they’re hidden so well, that must mean they’re not meant to be found, right?”
My solution was to implement a gesture that most users are already familiar with — the double tap — into the Now Playing experience. I observed that many users tried to press the “floating” album art in the present release (it just looks so delightful)…why not add a response?
Music for the Instagram generation
In addition, I added sneak peeks of adjacent tracks that users can skip to through a horizontal swipe. I believe this will grant users more control over their listening experience in an intuitive way.
Swipe right to party.
Looking back at the initial scribbles I made on my notebook during my initial brainstorming sessions, I’m happily surprised at the amount of progress I was able to make in three months.
Going into this process, I had no working knowledge of Principle and could barely edit blend modes in Sketch. Now…to be honest, I still consider myself a novice in said prototyping apps, but hey, I was able to make something happen — and that’s the best I could have hoped for.
I don’t expect the good folks at Apple Music to take anything from this case study. In fact, I might actually have a heart attack if anyone working on Apple Music stumbles upon this article… but if you’re out there, I hope my work was able to give you some ideas and spark some conversations!
Through this project, I have come to understand the value of my theatre background in relation to UX design — experience designers and theatre artists are alike in their shared understanding of human empathy. Take that, literally everyone who rolls their eyes at my resume!
Soon, I will be embarking on my next great adventure: BFA Graphic Design at Rhode Island School of Design. Although it feels strange to say goodbye to this process (and to Northwestern University), I sincerely hope that this is just the beginning of a career in experience design… a career of changing the world through empathy.
Drupal is one of the most popular open source web design platforms that have a built-in Content Management System (CMS). Itâ€™s chosen by many businesses thanks to its powerful tools and functional platform. Itâ€™s a favorable choice out of the other open source technologies because of its user efficiency, meaning you donâ€™t have to be equipped with technical skills in order to actually design the solution how you want. Other features include high website performance due to its built-in caching and scalability (it can be used on multiple servers). It also features easy integration with 3rd party applications, it’s search engine friendly, it has supreme security functionality, it provides commercial support through training and education, and it allows management of content by the end user (i.e. you).
Primarily used as a back- end system, Drupal supports a range of website types from personal blogs to government informational sites, and it is built on a PHP language which provides the main database through MySQL.Â Â
As mentioned previously you donâ€™t have to be of a technical background to be able to use Drupal effectively, although if you havenâ€™t got the time to go through the development process, it might be worth enlisting the help of an expert who has experience in Drupal web design solutions. These experts will be able to support you from the start to the end of the project leaving you stress and hassle free.
Okay, so youâ€™ve established your online presence, and your website is up and running, so what happens next?
Another thing to consider once your website is fully functioning is online marketing techniques, commonly known as Digital Marketing. Digital Marketing uses different techniques to build brand awareness through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), Social Media Marketing (SMM), Content marketing and also Email and Newsletter marketing. Using these methods you can shout about your business and build a bigger customer outreach so that people know that your organization exists.
With regular website maintenance, and online marketing you can truly allow all that design and development work to truly flourish.
However, there are certain things that a client needs to work on, for getting clarity of the exact requirements of web designing. This involves creation of a sitemap by the client. A sitemap is like a rough estimate of the pages and links that are to be included in the website. This can be better understood with the reference of a company’s website, which includes different pages like- company’s profile, products and services offered, contact us page etc. The client can create a brief of company’s background including the pictures of company, its products etc. In order to have a better understanding of your preferences and for the website designer to know your taste, creating a list of sites that you like is of utmost importance.
• Professionalism- Another important factor to be considered while choosing a website designer is his professional attitude. He should be able to stand to his commitments and must deliver the project timely. Delay in work is not a good sign!
• Affordability- The cost involved in the process of website designing should be in accordance with the standard and fair prices set for this task. It’s a long term investment, so spend wisely!
We hope the above information helps you in future projects.
If you’re thinking about having a website built, it’s important for you to have a clear idea of the process before you begin. Your website could be a profitable business venture for you, but only if you’ve really done your research ahead of time. Many people begin investing in their new websites before they’ve really thought out each step and end up wasting money on sites that never see fruition. However, with some simple planning and research, you can set yourself on the right track toward developing a successful website. Here are seven tips for web design and promotion to get you started.
1. Survey the Market and Research Your Competitors
Before you get ahead of yourself and begin hiring a web designer, take some time to survey the market and research your competitors. Look at what other types of websites are out there and see if anyone is doing something similar to your plan. Consider how many people are running similar websites, as well as how professional their websites look. This will help you to determine whether or not it’s worth setting up your own site, before you’ve invested too much in it.
To help ensure the success of your website, you should begin finding a niche market that you can target. You may be tempted to attract any and all customers that you can but you’ll actually have greater success targeting a very specific demographic. Think extensively about who your potential audience members are and what they would be most interested in. Then, you can begin to develop your website around these ideas.
2. Brainstorm Design Ideas and Figure Out What You Like
Once you’ve thought a little more about your site’s purpose, you should now think about your ideas for the design. You’ll need to consider the best way to present your message or to feature your products to audience members. Keep in mind that people tend to skim websites looking for something interesting or eye-catching, so make sure that the most important elements of your site are featured prominently.
7. Allow Time and Money for Search Engine Optimisation
Google AdWords is a great way to help you get started but it’s also important to use search engine optimisation, or SEO, to build organic traffic to your site. While AdWords will automatically place you at the top of search engine rankings with an advert you will have to continue doing that for ever. SEO can help you get to the first page of rankings naturally and eventually you will receive lots of traffic for free. This is important to increasing your traffic and building your site’s legitimacy and authority on your subject.
Be sure to budget the time and money for SEO. It’s not cheap and it can take 6-12 months to get your page to the first page of rankings for a number of keywords but it will generate a great amount of free traffic when you get there. It may cost about £300-£600 per month but SEO is truly the best way to start bringing in consistent traffic. Over time, your SEO efforts can help you build a reliable customer base and increase your sales. You’re website will now be a true competitor in your niche market and well on it’s way to success.
In this digital world of the internet, mobiles, laptops, computers and tablets, online presence has become very important. If you want to grow your business, you need to promote it. Using social media platforms to get the attention is just one step towards your goal.
To be honest, we cannot deny the fact that we don’t trust an organization if it doesn’t have a website of its own. What is the first thing that we do when we want to know more about a specific company? We browse about it on the internet. Don’t we?
A website is the mirror image of your company’s status and reputation, it is a place where everything is in one place, sorted and organized.
How to create a website?
Follow these steps to create your own website.
· The first step is creating your unique domain name.
· A domain name appears like “xyz.com” and you need to visit a registrar to pay for the name you chose.
· They are easy for people to register in their brains.
· Others like Yahoo, Firefox and Bing are also some great options.
· These search engines are absolutely free and therefore the task of promoting your website becomes very easy.
· Other ways to get your site noticed are conventional methods like word of mouth, newspapers, cold calling etc.
Doughty wondered if this “parquetting of jis”, this “gypsum fretwork… all adorning and unenclosed” originated from India. However, the Najd fretwork seems very different from that seen in the Eastern Province and Oman, which are linked to Indian traditions, and rather resembles the motifs and patterns found in ancient Mesopotamia. The rosette, the star, the triangle and the stepped pinnacle pattern of dadoes are all ancient patterns, and can be found all over the Middle East of antiquity. Al-Qassim Province seems to be the home of this art, and there it is normally worked in hard white plaster (though what you see is usually begrimed by the smoke of the coffee hearth). In Riyadh, examples can be seen in unadorned clay.
Google recommends responsive design for smartphone websites over other approaches. Although many publishers are starting to implement responsive designs, one ongoing challenge for RWD is that some banner advertisements and videos are not fluid. However, search advertising and (banner) display advertising support specific device platform targeting and different advertisement size formats for desktop, smartphone, and basic mobile devices. Different landing page URLs can be used for different platforms, or Ajax can be used to display different advertisement variants on a page. CSS tables permit hybrid fixed+fluid layouts. There are now many ways of validating and testing RWD designs, ranging from mobile site validators and mobile emulators to simultaneous testing tools like Adobe Edge Inspect. The Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers and the Chrome console offer responsive design viewport resizing tools, as do third parties. Use cases of RWD will now expand further with increased mobile usage; according to Statista, organic search engine visits in the US coming from mobile devices has hit 51% and are increasing. The first site to feature a layout that adapts to browser viewport width was Audi.com launched in late 2001, created by a team at razorfish consisting of Jürgen Spangl and Jim Kalbach (information architecture), Ken Olling (design), and Jan Hoffmann (interface development). Limited browser capabilities meant that for Internet Explorer, the layout could adapt dynamically in the browser whereas for Netscape, the page had to be reloaded from the server when resized. Cameron Adams created a demonstration in 2004 that is still online. By 2008, a number of related terms such as “flexible”, “liquid”, “fluid”, and “elastic” were being used to describe layouts. CSS3 media queries were almost ready for prime time in late 2008/early 2009. Ethan Marcotte coined the term responsive web design (RWD)—and defined it to mean fluid grid/ flexible images/ media queries—in a May 2010 article in A List Apart. He described the theory and practice of responsive web design in his brief 2011 book titled Responsive Web Design. Responsive design was listed as #2 in Top Web Design Trends for 2012 by .net magazine after progressive enhancement at #1. Mashable called 2013 the Year of Responsive Web Design. Many other sources have recommended responsive design as a cost-effective alternative to mobile applications.
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