What is SoundCloud?
Soundcloud is an online audio distribution platform that enables users to upload, record, promote and share their originally-created sounds. SoundCloud’s content is evenly split between music and other audio, such as podcasts.
Although SoundCloud presents a unique music streaming design and fluid functionality, it lacks in organizing and discovering its audio. As the world’s largest music and audio platform, the service contains an infinite amount of content. The app also lacks in tight navigation. The mobile platform’s navigation can be a bit confusing to new users, for there are a variety of ways to maneuver to the same destination. The problem is accessing and organizing that specific content, which therein lies the challenge: Offer users a quick, flexible, and enjoyable experience to harness the service’s wide spectrum of content.
- Create a better layout for organizing saved music
- Update the interface for better navigation
- Allow users to upload music on the go by integrating with Google Drive and Dropbox
- Give users more control over their sound, such as equalizing and uploading tracks
It can be assumed that this application will be used by people who wish to stream music throughout their day for free. Also, it can be assumed that users will upload their own audio onto SoundCloud’s platform.
The target users for this application will consist of people of all ages who are seeking a free platform to stream their music. Other users will consist of musicians and producers who wish to upload their music to share with the world.
- As a user, I want to be able to save and manage my music in an organized manner.
- As a user, I want to be able to search SoundCloud’s library for a desired track.
- As a user, I want to upload my projects while I’m away from my computer.
I started by sketching out the main features that needed to be implemented into the application. These main features include the profile section, audio player, mobile uploading and the discovery process. The main challenge was designing these features without overloading the user with a messy interface. The features had to possess a familiar, yet fresh design that any type of SoundCloud user could utilize with ease.
Design: I decided to use a dark UI theme throughout the interface. One major issue that I have experienced with the original SoundCloud design was its piercing white background. For a music player, users will be looking at their phone screens quite often, especially while browsing and searching for new music. The dark interface presents a display that is easy on the eyes and allows users to use the application for longer periods of time, especially at night.
I admired SoundCloud’s minimalistic dock by only featuring the Home, Search, and Profile sections to reduce clutter. I decided to keep these three sections, however I did change “Search” to “Explore” since I wanted to emphasize the act of discovery for new music. I moved the dock to the top of the screen to include a music player dock. This way, the user will always have access to which track is currently playing and is able to access that track wherever they are within the app.
I minimized the steps it takes to navigate to the Likes, Reposts, Playlists, and Tacks section. Instead of navigating to each section individually, each of the sections displays its content on the same page for faster track selecting and ease of use.
Unlike the original display, I have added the live audio wave to allow users to navigate throughout a track and also view the current area of the song. I have also added a filter to the track listings to organize the display of the user’s content. Each track section contains a like, repost, add to playlist, and share button, along with the track’s number of plays and comments.
SoundCloud’s audio wave design is what makes the interface a truly unique experience. The wave is now placed within a dark container of content. This content includes the like, playlist, and share buttons, along with the duration of the track and artist information. I used this dark container because I would often accidentally skip or rewind a song in the original interface where the audio wave functionality took up the entire screen.
One massive element that SoundCloud did not include is an equalizer to adjust a track’s sound. As a music streaming platform, this is very important to users, especially if they use the application as their primary music streaming service. Also, since SoundCloud includes content from a wide variety of users, an EQ is essential to adjust rough recordings.
An essential feature that the original SoundCloud interface did not include was a mobile uploading functionality. Users are only able to upload their tracks from the desktop version. Many musicians today use cloud storage services to store and share their completed tracks and mixes. I decided to add a mobile upload feature for artists who are constantly on the road and out of the studio to upload their tracks anytime and anywhere they please.
Organization and Discovery
SoundCloud’s biggest issue is its mobile organization and audio discovery functionality. As the world’s largest music and audio platform, this feature is absolutely crucial and must be implemented in an effective and satisfying manner. In order to accomplish this, I have added new sections within the Home and Explore tabs to help users expand their searches and discover new music faster.