Mood-driven music player for iOS, based on music therapy benefits.
Research, Product design, UX, Prototyping, UI, User Test
Analysis, Sketches, Wireframes, prototype
— 01. Overview
Mumood was created to help users to find the right music for the right mood.
It is a music player that generates playlists based on a desired mood or situation.
Its aim is achieving an improvement in the user's emotional well-being.
The app takes user's musical preferences from other platforms (such as Spotify) and classifies the tracks by mood, according to its rhythm, tone, harmony, speed, instruments... keeping with the evidence-based music therapy criteria.
Mumood brings you the kind of music that works best at every moment, so that you can enhance its positive effects on your state of mind.
— 02. UX Challenges
This research is based on the personal observation that music is a powerful tool and people use it in an innate way, to enhance their moods.
260 surveys and 7 interviews were conducted, to know in greater depth how people use music on a daily
basis, related to their emotional state.
(Take the test)
90% of respondents listened to music daily, 58% of them listens to music more than two hours a day, and 98% said they used it as a therapeutic tool to regulate their negative emotional states and to enhance positive ones.
The concept of "therapeutic tool" led me to music therapy, the discipline that studies the benefits of music in wellbeing and defends that, after a minimum of thirteen minutes of listening to the right music, our body can already notice the beneficial effects of music and begins to reduce the level of cortisol (the stress hormone).
From the scientific article “Music in Mood Regulation Scale” (Saarikallio, 2008). I learned that therapeutic uses of music have been demonstrated for the following scenarios:
- Positive reaffirmation/Motivation
In the interviews, comments were:
“I listen to music because I want to feel”
“Music helps me to avoid situations and emotions that I do not like”
“Music brings back happy memories”
“When I listen to this song I feel that everything is possible”
As a result of the research phase, and after conducting other research techniques such as affinity maps and empathy maps, I highlighted :
- People use music to enhance moods, whether seeking relief or catharsis
- The target audience is annoyed when he has to skip tracks to find the one that fit the mood he need, it generates frustration and worsens their mood.
- Mood suggestions from other music players are also frustrating for them, because they do not take personal preferences in consideration (the song fits in the mood, but I don't like the perfomer or style)
- Sometimes they look for the right music not only for a current state of mind but also for a specific context or situation: work, concentration, activation, motivation ...
- People do trust music recommendations.
From this inputs we could define a user persona: a professional from 25 to 50 years, who spends most of his time working and feels stressed. A music lover who unfortunately has little to no-time to enjoy it, but still manages to listen to music more than two hours a day, even when working. A person who is largely frustrated by his lifestyle but who does not know what to do to take control of his mood.
Main pain points
Then I did the user journey, in order to detect the main pain points of the experience of listening music through a whole day, which were:
- Frustration when the experience is not personalized: when you listen music that you do not like.
- Frustration when you can not choose the music you listen to.
- Frustration when you have to go from song to song until you find one that you like and adjusts to the mood you want to achieve.
- Frustration when you have to set up a list and dedicate time, so the relief is delayed.
— 03. My approach
Being a proposal related to the mental and emotional state, I thought it was best to make a proposal based on emotional design.
Mumood will be a music player based on the principles of emotional design. When the user has a positive emotional state, the app will try to encourage him to maintain it, if the emotional response is negative he will receive a feedback of empathy and will propose solutions.
Regarding the app's tone and voice, the proposal is far from the usual music players, looking to reduce complexity, without so many functionalities and that does not require much work from the user.
The requirements that I demand are: fast loading, fast configuration and minimum time required until finding what I need.
— 04. UX solutions and outcome
After doing some synthesis (Problem statement, Lean UX Canvas and Storyboard) and some concept sketching, main features were defined.
- Easy and fast on-board and configuration
- Integration with other music platforms
- Only music that the user already likes
- Determined Minimum playlist time of 13 minutes
- Playlist by mood
- Playlists by situation or context (concentration, motivation, relaxation…)
- Music Player with speed control, to better fit the users’ expectations regarding to rhythm
- Tracks tagging for mood personalization
- Recommended lists
- Test likert for mood track after every session
- Tracking display for emotional proprioception
For visual design, I looked for a fresh and clean proposal, far from dark modes overused in the
musical market.I used neutral but friendly colorful illustrations, impersonating human moods, that looked
friendly and nice.
The idea was to keep the application simple, consistent and visually pleasing.
UI: Moodboard & Design Tiles
— 05. Prototype
For this app, I developed an mvp for the main feature, which was the mood selector, the player and the mood test.
— 06. What's next?
Once the prototype was ready, I conducted a usability test to get my first user feedback. Next steps will be:
- To conduct some card sorting test, to work on tone and voice of the app, in order to give it some personality and to make some of the main features clearer, so they proved to be kind of hard to understand.
- Some screens look kind of crowded, I will reduce the number of tasks the user can do in every one of them, and make it simpler.
- Enhance emotional design with more positive feedback
- Develop the integration with the operating system, such as the widget that displays on lock screen
- Usability issues such al legibility or contrast.
- Work on gestures for the transitions between screens, to make it more “flow”. These will lead to conversations with developers to see were are the limits.
You can download the user test results, for further information.
— 07. My personal opinion
My personal goal was to the users to understand the flow by themselves and surprisingly for me, they not only did but understood how it would benefit them at a glance.
For me, it has been a huge challenge to keep coherence in research and development from beggining to end, and to fulfill the objective of keeping it highly useful but very simple.
It was a challenge indeed to think of a music application that will be far from the musical market leader, as Spotify.
This has been one of the most complete design processes I have been involved in and I am so proud the outcome is both consistent and visually attractive.