Enhancing the sharing experience. Role: Product Designer


Spotify is currently the leading music streaming service. For this reason, Spotify is looking to improve engagement and retention within the app by expanding on their social capabilities. The focus will be on defining the best way to move forward in that direction, and to create a prototype of features integrated seamlessly within the rest of the app.

Problem Statement

How might we make it easier for users to share music without leaving Spotify?

Users & Audience

Spotify users, and those who do not use Spotify music streaming service.

Process Overview

  • Research Competitive Analysis User Interviews Round One User Interviews Round Two
  • Define User Persona Empathy Map Problem Statement Ideation Storyboarding User Flows
  • Design Low Fidelity Wireframes UI Design
  • Test High Fidelity Prototype Usability Testing Affinity Map Priority Revisions


Competitive Analysis, User Interviews Timeline: Two Weeks

Competitive analysis was conducted by first looking at direct and indirect competitors. Strengths and weaknesses were assessed, on both a functional level as well as the UI design.

Individual interviews were conducted with users that used one or more music streaming service on a weekly basis.

Competitive Analysis Findings:
Competitor: Apple Music
  • Stats
  • 60M Active Monthly Users
  • Plans starting at $9.99/mo
  • 50M Songs Available
  • Methods to share
  • Copy Link
  • E-mail
  • Text Message
  • Embed
  • Weaknesses
  • Can't follow artists
  • Platform compatibility issues, user needs app to listen to songs
Competitor: Google Play Music
  • Stats
  • 21.99M Active Monthly Users
  • Plans starting at $9.99/mo
  • 40M Songs Available
  • Methods to share
  • Text Message
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Copy Link
  • Weaknesses
  • Everything is "Radio" based, can't listen to a single artist
  • Platform compatibility issues, user needs app to listen to songs
Competitor: Soundcloud
  • Stats
  • 175M Active Monthly Users
  • Plans starting at $4.99/mo
  • 200M Songs Available
  • Methods to share
  • Text Message
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Copy Link
  • Embed Code
  • Message through app
  • Weaknesses
  • Music quality can vary
User Interview Findings Round One:

In round one of interviews we were trying to establish insight on habits related to sharing music from within-apps, and how users used to share music before streaming services were the norm. Are there any pain points with the current state of music sharing, and what motivates them to share music today? A total of 8 participants were interviewed.

  • Pain Points
  • No motivation to share music because they feel nothing is easy enough
  • Don't have time to make music mixes
  • Subscription service that other contacts don’t subscribe to is problematic
  • Needs to share via external sources - text, or copy link
  • Doesn’t find the recommendations to be helpful, would rather recommendations be more personalized
  • Delights
  • Exposure to new music
  • Connecting to a song, band, or artist
  • Enjoys multiple methods of sharing music
  • Motivations To Share
  • Memories - if they experienced music in person with someone
  • Thinking another person would like the song
  • Sharing something unique
  • Personal connection
User Interview Findings Round Two:

In round two of interviews we were trying to establish insight and habits for listening to music. Are there certain times of day or activities that prompt listening to music? Are there certain types or genres of music that prompt sharing more? How does the user experience listening to music and sharing music, outside of using apps? A total of 3 participants were interviewed.

  • Group activities that involve listening to music
  • Going to concerts
  • Fitness classes
  • Daily activities that prompt listening to music
  • Working
  • Driving
/ / / / / / / / / /
User Persona, Empathy Map, Problem Statement, Ideation, Storyboarding, User Flows Timeline: One Week

After research was conducted, we moved into synthesizing our findings. A user persona and empathy map was created to help tell the user's story.

The user persona was created based on the common frustrations and needs we heard from our user interviews. Our objective was to explore the overall goals, motivations, fears, and frustrations of a typical Spotify user.

The empathy map further explored our persona's thoughts, feelings, actions, pains, and gains. We summarized what we heard and also used direct quotes gathered from the interviews.

We then moved into crafting the problem statement. Using our competitive analysis, user interview findings, persona, and empathy map, we crafted 14 "How Might We" statements to help us identify the problem we were going to solve. From there, we narrowed it down to one statement.

We used the Crazy 8s method for Ideation and Storyboarding. The Crazy 8s method involves folding a piece of paper in half 3 times so you are left with a sheet of 8 small squares. The idea is to spend 40 seconds quickly brainstorming ideas on each of the 8 squares, take a quick break, and repeat the process again. In our case, we did 5 rounds. For Storyboarding we used the Crazy 8s method again to explore these ideas in more detail, and to establish a rough user flow of these ideas. Again, we repeated this process 5 times.

We then established two different user flows. The first flow focused on improving the sharing experience from within the Spotify app. The second flow looked at how to enhance the experience for someone that does not have the Spotify app.

User Persona:
Emma Murphy

“I enjoy discovering new music. I also sometimes share music with friends if it’s a song that reminds me of them or holds a certain memory.”

Persona Bio: Emma is a travel blogger and entrepreneur. She spends her time writing about places and events in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA as well as trips and vacations she takes a few times a year. Emma also runs an Etsy shop where she sells her handmade ceramic goods.

Emma listens to music often, but usually passively - while she writes or crafts. She finds that she doesn’t have a lot of time to build playlists, and thinks her preferred app’s music recommendations are off point. She feels a lack of connection to her friends through her music app, and prefers to engage with them using other social media applications.In her free time, Emma enjoys going to concerts with her friends and husband, trying new restaurants, and reading.

Age: 33 Occupation: Travel blogger & entrepreneur Location: Pittsburgh, PA Archetype: The Innocent
Goals & Needs:
  • Discover new music
  • Easy and seamless experience sharing music with friends and family

Frustrations & Fears:
  • Ads/Commercials
  • Lack of personalization
  • Unclear or confusing way of sharing music

Associated Brands:
  • Youtube
  • Spotify
  • Whatsapp
  • Instagram
  • Air Bnb
  • Feel a connection with others through music
  • Shared memories
  • Helping others discover new music

Tech Knowledge:
  • IT & Internet
  • Software
  • Mobile Apps
  • Social Networks

  • ExtrovertIntrovert
  • SensingIntuition
  • ThinkingFeeling
  • JudgingPerceiving
Empathy Map:
  • Hearing
  • Unfamiliar songs playing in the background at coffee shops
  • “You should check out this artist”
  • Thinking & Feeling
  • “I wish Spotify had better recommendations”
  • Nostalgia certain songs evoke
  • “I don’t have a lot of time to build playlists”
  • “How can I save this song?”
  • “Oh, Haleigh would love this song!”
  • “I wonder what song this is?”
  • Seeing
  • Friends feed of recently played artists
  • Facebook posts of music videos shared 
by friends
  • Artists’s social posts
  • Doing
  • Browses playlists
  • Watches music videos
  • Goes to concerts with friends
  • Listens to music while traveling
  • Listens to music while working
  • Pains
  • Can’t share music with friends that don’t use Spotify
  • Can’t find links that have been shared with them in the past
  • Wants more connection with friends when using Spotify
  • Gains
  • Deeper connection with friends through shared music memories
  • New music recommendations by those who know them best
  • A consistent place to find music they have shared and music shared with them
Problem Statement:

How might we make it easier for users to share music without leaving Spotify?

Ideation (Crazy 8s):
spotify Ideation
Storyboarding (Crazy 8s):
spotify storyboarding
User Flow: Improved In-App Sharing
User Flow in-app
User Flow: User Not Registered
User Flow User Not Registered
/ / / / / / / / / /
Low Fidelity Wireframes, UI Design Timeline: One Week

Wireframes were built out in Sketch, and initial prototypes were built on Invision to help map out the user flow, as well as provide a starting point for our UI design and usability testing.

After wireframing we moved into our UI design and prototyping. The focus was to seamlessly integrate our features into the existing app. We designed cover art for the "Shared With Me" playlist with similar style treatment as other Spotify playlists. We followed the Spotify Branding Guidelines to build out and blend in our UI and features.

Three different prototypes were build out to test our various user flows.

Mobile Wireframes:
Hover over the device to view the design
Spotify mobile shared with me playlist
iPhone iPhone
Spotify combined playlist
iPhone iPhone
Spotify Share with Friends
iPhone iPhone
UI Design & Prototype:
Click a device to play the flow
/ / / / / / / / / /
High Fidelity Prototype, Usability Testing, Affinity Maps, Priority Revisions Timeline: One Week

Using our high fidelity prototypes, we conducted usability testing in person and remote via

For our import contacts user flow, we found that some users were unsure of where to click in order to share songs.

For our in-app messaging user flow, we found that some users were surprised by an unexpected input field behavior.

For our unregistered user flow, we found that some users were still missing the preview song feature on the landing page.

We used all of our findings from the usability testing to iterate over our design and prioritize revisions that would enhance the users experience.

Affinity Map Import Contacts:
Spotify Affinity Map
Affinity Map In-App Messaging:
Spotify Affinity Map
Affinity Map Unregistered User:
Spotify Affinity Map
/ / / / / / / / / /
Final Thoughts
Reflection, Next Steps, Lessons Learned

We heard many pain points during our user interviews; that it was difficult to find the sharing feature within the app, and it was also difficult to find music that had been shared with them in the past. All of our research pointed to a relatively broad problem statement "How might we make it easier for users to share music without leaving Spotify?".

Through Ideation and Storyboarding, we developed a few flows that completely overhauled the existing sharing functionality, bringing sharing in natively within the Spotify app. This introduced new features such as in-app messaging, a "Shared With Me" playlist (a history of all songs shared with you by your friends), and a unique "Our Combined Playlist" (a history of all songs shared between you and one other individual).

We also streamlined the sharing process by allowing users to share a song via text message or e-mail directly within the Spotify app, with the ability to import contacts.

For unregistered users, we enhanced the shared song landing page by indicating who the song was shared by. Focus was given to highlighting the preview of the song, making it much more apparent that this song was available to listen to. We reworked the registration flow a bit by allowing the user to register in the browser, rather than forcing them to download the app to register. After the user registered, they could easily find songs shared with them through the in-app messaging feature available on the Spotify dashboard.

Next Steps: We will continue building out the rest of the sharing features including sharing via Twitter and Facebook natively within the Spotify App.