"Choose two websites to analyze for this assignment. You will be using the same combination of FEEL and NEED as the prior assignment, but as it relates to UX and UI. Choose a site that you visit frequently to start with. As your second site, choose either a competitor to your first choice (this will give insight into your personal preferences as a user) or a site that you really do NOT like."
Pandora & Spotify are two of the top competing companies in the music streaming industry. Both focus on allowing users to stream music, but in different ways—and their online interfaces further emphasize these differences. For this assignment, I will be analyzing both websites from a UI and UX standpoint and focusing on “NEED” and “FEEL” via a feelings/needs list.
Pandora – Web Analysis
User Experience (UX)
Pandora’s website interface makes me FEEL CONFIDENT, VALUED, and STIMULATED because my NEED for CHOICE, FREEDOM, and TO KNOW/BE KNOWN are being met. I feel confident because Pandora's interface is clean, concise, easy-to-use, and intuitive. I feel valued because Pandora consistently caters to my specific musical tastes and interests. I feel stimulated because I can't work/live/function without music, and Pandora allows me to enhance my everyday tasks with the music I love and enjoy. Pandora’s music streaming specialty is finding and playing songs that have similar musical traits based on my positive/negative feedback, and custom tailoring my playlists to play or recommend music I already or might enjoy, respectively. However, I also have the ability to create my own custom playlists, giving Pandora a strong "double-feature" interface. I have the freedom to control what I want to listen to, and Pandora’s interface enhances that experience.
- To Know/
Pandora’s interface revolves around the idea of passively streaming music for you, so the website’s home page is predominantly your music/playlists. However, given that this site revolves around the user’s input, the search bar for new music, artists, stations, playlists, etc. is centered up at the top—it doesn't interrupt your "musical library", but it remains as an important feature nonetheless. On that secondary level of importance is also the option to switch between what’s now playing and your aforementioned musical library. The "Filter" feature adds a nice touch of organization to your perhaps extensive collection, but acts as support for the main service purpose.
User Interface (UI)
Pandora’s website visuals makes me FEEL SERENE and REFRESHED because my NEED for CLARITY, CLOSURE, and FLOW are being met. I feel serene due to Pandora's bright, airy, familiar visuals. I feel refreshed because of the white, negative space and breathing room included in the interface's design. Pandora’s "dark-on-white" color scheme is very relaxing and familiar, and allows for less distraction from “neat visuals” and more focus on navigation and needs. The Pandora-specific "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" feature doesn’t reinvent the wheel—the icons are obvious and self-explanatory, which emphasizes ease of use.
The background color generated for each individual song is pulled from the album art, but the chosen color is always the most subtle. This is to prevent the "overkill" of a strong, prominent color and instead emphasizes and complements the album artwork. The text color also changes accordingly (and appropriately) for the accent color in order to maintain clarity and readability.
Again, the emphasis is placed on music streaming, so the album artwork and song information is placed at the visual dead-center of the screen. The “3“ and the ellipses "More" icons indicate features that are also self-explanatory, as the ellipses is universal for a “more” feature. However, the check mark is an indication that this song has been added to your library, which effectively makes sense.
Spotify – Web Analysis
User Experience (UX)
Spotify’s website interface makes me FEEL OVERWHELMED, UNEASY, and EXASPERATED because my NEED for ACKNOWLEDGMENT, SELF-EXPRESSION, and TO KNOW/BE KNOWN are not being met. I feel overwhelmed by Spotify's sheer amount of options on the home page. I feel uneasy and exasperated by the fact that most of the options on the home page have nothing to do with my wants, needs, or interests. Spotify’s main purpose is a streaming service; however, I feel as if other people's musical preferences and choices are being shoved down my throat. The "Discover Weekly" playlist does not consist of songs I would ever associate with my musical tastes, so it leaves me wondering about how this algorithm actually works. "Your Summer Rewind" appears to be an algorithmic-ripoff of a playlist I’ve already created. The rest of the home page is just curated junk for the masses none of it is aimed towards me and my musical preferences. However, I do find that "Recently Played" sections in music apps can sometimes be helpful.
- To Know/
Spotify’s interface revolves around the idea of passively streaming music for you, so the website’s home page is predominantly your music/playlists interrupt your "musical library", but it remains as an important feature nonetheless. On that secondary level of importance is also the option to switch between what’s now playing and your aforementioned musical library. The "Filter" feature adds a nice touch of organization to your perhaps extensive collection, but acts as support for the main service purpose.
User Interface (UI)
I also made note of the fact that Spotify's home page made me feel claustrophobic. This is because there are equal parts text and images (along with the visually distracting text-on-image album covers) and not enough "white" space—or, in this case, black space. Regardless of the color implemented, there isn't enough open space to allow for breathing room among the interface elements. The white text also appears overemphasized in order to compensate for the dark background (and potential loss in readability), but the consistent bold font in different text sizes is a bit visually confusing. Bold text is supposed to be used sparingly as it adds a ton of emphasis to whatever it’s applied, but everything in the Spotify home page interface stands out due to the uniform bolding. Of course the text size compensates for the visual hierarchy (where big = more important), but I still feel as if the stylistic choice to use bold for most of the text wasn't necessary. I did give praise to the playlist layout, and I will mention it again.
Conversely to what I said about the home page, I don’t mind the spacing in the playlist that much. Playlists, like all lists, are a quick compilation of items—and when things are too spaced out, it can sometimes appear as if those items (if not all the items) don’t exactly belong together. My handwriting is terrible and can have virtually no tracking at times, so this could be one of the reasons I’m relatively content over the playlist visuals. I still enjoy Pandora’s implementation of light separation lines and album artwork, but I believe Spotify’s interface gets the job done just as well.
Perhaps I’m biased because I've never really been a fan of Spotify... and I’ve been with Pandora since the very beginning.