UI Design · User Research
MIT 2018 | Collaboration with:
Stephanie O’Brien, Pravi Samaratunga, Subby Olubeko, Christian Jamison
Aspiring and even professional musicians sometimes struggle to make a living doing their craft. Many have a hard time finding gigs to perform or other musicians to collaborate with. They also often struggle to expand their fan base beyond close friends and family.
We took several directions at the beginning to see how the interface will be in a more extreme settings— ultra efficient, ultra safe, ultra informative, and on ultra small surface like smart watches. We then identify what features are more important for the user and made some tradeoffs while designing the interface.
Low fidelity paper prototype: The main focus for this version of prototype is testing the basic wireframe, basic functions, and usability.
High fidelity paper prototype: During the previous low-fi prototyping, we found out since the screen size is relatively small compared with computer monitor, a lot of features are not recognizable in the low-fi setting. We quickly moved to high-fi setting to test functional features, size, contrast and so on.
Search Feature: As the point of view of the musician, the first page they encounter is the search function. We implemented the hint text placeholder in search bars to increase the learnability, put different filter options individually and with color indication to increase learnability, efficiency and safety; put different filters with similar interface to decrease learning time and possible mistakes.
In-app texting and profile: To increase safety in the app usability, we kept many features to be externally consistent with typical interfaces, such as text box, name display, press link, favorite feature, and calling functions.
User research is really the key for this app-- Many tradeoffs we have between safety and efficiency, ways to provide learnability and functionality of the app is all revolved around the target user. Talking with different musicians and venue owners really helped us better understand their struggles that we to design for, at the same time offered us insights of other presidents they are used to, so we know how to maintain external consistency for the app.
One struggle we have during designing the project is the scale. If we consider this app as an business model, naturally it would have different stages of growth depends on the market size, capital and resources. Considering the time and resources we have right now, we decided to keep the Venue Finder as an entry point. The further development may include collaboration with both venues and musicians to have live recording, or having a physical recording studio for new artist to come build their portfolio, or creating different ways of payment to facilitate venues and musicians to have a safe way to trade. All these can be further designed and implemented in the Venue Finder app, but based on the time and resources, we have decided to leave it for future development.
Prototyping process and tools
Compare to other groups mainly focus on website design, since we are creating an smartphone app and dimensions affects layout significantly at this scale, we went from paper sketching and prototyping to computer layout fairly quick. The main computer prototyping tools we used were Adobe XD and Illustrator, which not only provided us faster way to create many iterations, but also creates higher fidelity in feel much faster. The result was also quite obvious, many problems user finds while using paper prototypes caused by low fidelity in feel were being solved simply because of changing into computer screens.
Since this app is about connecting people, our final user testing also face the problem of not having enough database to conduct a more realistic testing. It is hard to compare if it is easier / faster / safer for both musicians or venue to find an ideal match since we do not have the real data, but if we are only looking from the interface design point of view, most users find it really easy to navigate (good learnability), the filters are useful (provide efficiency), and hard to misdial or having a wrong payment (safety).