Embedded Social Feature Add-on

Expand social capability of a leading streaming music company

Casual users looking for a more social music experience online

User Research, Interaction Design, Visual Design, and UI Design

THE CHallenge

Design a new social feature that embeds well and smoothly within the current Spotify IOS platform. It should help improve engagement and retention by helping to create deeper emotional connections between users. 


Created the “Music Lounge” that acts as a digital hangout focused on music. While this feature could act as a container for multiple integrations (ie. concerts, artist’s talks) and capabilitities (AR/VR), the focus of this project became a path that enabled users to foster conversations around playlists. 


There is an undeniable connection between us as humans and the music we listen to. Music can change our emotions, evoke memories of childhood, and even be used to define ourselves. Within this discovery process it was important to understand the wider context in which Spofity’s users interacted with music. Initially, a wide scope showed how people emotionally connect with music through digital and analog channels. I then looked at how Spotify fit into this framework, and the ways in which it didn’t contribute to these emotional connections. Finally, I worked with the users to discover what socially-enabled tools could be designed in order to build on these missing emotional connections. 


For this project two main persona’s kept coming to the forefront. There was the casual user and the audiophile. While the audiophile presented some fascinating opportunities to build experiences for, the casual user offered a greater opportunity for impact. 

empathy map

The below empathy map provided insight into how many moments Spotify has to capture the attention of the casual music listener. The app is involved in occasions from traveling to exercising, cooking, hanging out with friends and more. Every time a user interacted with others where music was involved was an opportunity for a socially-integrated tool to be introduced.  


At this point in the process it was time to start to synthesize the information from the research phase. The key insights combined with the empathy that I gained from the interviews could now lead the way to help define the main social features to be designed. Below is a high level overview of the larger takeaways from the discovery process.

Research insights


  • Casual- prefers a more “lean-back” approach to music listening, prefers a smoother and less technical experience
  • Audiophile- intense, deep-dive approach, more likely to publicly share their playlist and proclaim their diversity of tastes
  • Daily Life Impact- affected a user’s day from waking up, traveling, exercising, work, get-togethers, relaxing, etc. 

Music Development:

  • Formative Year Development- Stronger ties with music are developed through college due to more time for music and impactful life events
  • Progressive- One’s music tastes start with their family’s preferences, then move to their friends before a user developes their own personality 
  • Impact of Life Moments- new friends/acquaintences, old friends coming back into the picture, etc. 

Music Discovery:

  • Analog- records, tapes, CD’s, concerts,  restaurants, bars, impromptu music sessions, etc. 
  • Digital- Shazam, Spotfiy, YouTube, other streaming services (Apple, Tidal, SoundCloud, etc.), radio, TV, and video games

Music Sharing:

  • Digital- texting, email, websites, streaming services
  • In person- conversations, sharing physical objects (records, books, etc.), playing music,  and singing

Problem statment

Now that I had gleaned a good amount of insights from the research, it was time to create some meaningful and actionable problem statements. For this part of the process I turned to “How might we” questions.  I tried to make sure these were mostly human-centered while being broad enough to foster creativity, but also narrow enough to not let the thought process become unweildy.  


  • How might we foster conversations around music?
  • How might we help friends collaborate to find new music through Spotify?
  • How might we connect long distance friends and family through music?
  • How might we help a user to discover what their friends are listening to?
  • How might we find balance between appealing to new and experienced users within the social feature?
  • How might we instill trust in our users that they are sharing only what they want with who they want and when they want?
  • How might we leverage Spotify’s other attributes to fill out the social feature?
  • How might we seamlessly integrate the social app into the rest of Spotify’s features?

Story Board

This storyboard focused on how to help friends collaborate to find new music through Spotify. In the scenario below a few friends decide to throw a party. They use a new social feature on Spotify to plan, discuss and manage the song list for the party in real time. 

user flow

The below user flow showcases four separate transactions that would occur in order to follow along with the story presented above. A user would first need to create a public playlist, and then add the songs they wanted to it. This would be followed by starting a conversation attached to the playlist, and finally adding friends to the conversation. Please note that there are different ways that the below flow could be accomplished (ie. start with a conversation amongst friends and then start a playlist based on that conversation).


With all the research completed,  insights gained, problem statements presented and user flow created, I now had to figure out the best way to present a solution. Would I design a separate section for each social integration that I was thinking about or try to warehouse them all under a particular section? What new icons would I need to create to best represent the features while still staying true to the Spotify design aesthetic? How would I make sure that the user flow integrated smoothly with the existing app? These questions and more meant that there was still a lot left to be done in order to realize a viable solution. 

Crazy eights

Since all of the remaining thoughts left more questions than answers, this part of the design process felt daunting. There were multiple avenues I could go down for how the UI would operate and the look and feel of the new features. In order to not get overwhelmed, I decided to do multiple rounds of Crazy Eights. By drawing as many ideas as I could for eight minutes, I freed my mind from the stress of having to come up with the perfect solution the first time. Below are some of the rough sketches that I eventually used to make my final design decisions. 


After completing the Crazy Eights exercise, I worked through some simplistic mockups and then decided to go right to designing the high fidelity versions. This was due to the fact that I could quickly grab screen shots of the various Spotify screens that I needed, and then add my design changes right on top of them. The process went quickly due to the aforementioned work that was done through the research and ideation stages. That being said, I still completed a few rounds of user testing with both heavy and light users of Spotfiy to make sure that the flow made sense within the app. A great example of an improvement came from a non-experienced user who asked if they could have an easy way to get to their conversations. To do this, I added an easily identifiable conversation icon to the header of most pages that would allow a user to get to a list of their conversations through a simple click. It would also let them know if they had new conversations waiting for them once they entered the Spotify app. 

High fidelity mockups

Playlist Setup:

Add Songs:

Add Playlist Conversation:

Add Friends to Playlist Conversations:


This project was a lot of fun because I got a chance to reimagine one of my favorite applications. The first thing I was surprised about during the process was the fact that Spotfiy hadn’t yet solved the social aspect of music from a digital perspective. It was eye opening to see that a well-established product still had plenty of room for improvement. I also realized that making changes to a widely-used and loved product can be difficult for fear of user backlash and financial reprecussions. Lastly, I found it difficult to try and weave a new function into an existing structure. I found myself wanting to redesign other functions of the application in order to more easily integrate my one new idea. This is surely a pitfall that many companies run into when trying to make improvements. After this project I look forward to taking on other entrenched products that feel they have few new design roads to explore.