Launched in 2015, Roon is a powerful music library management software & mobile app.
The purpose of this project was to discover and analyze different issues using different User-Experience research methodologies, and develop design solutions for Roon mobile app.
This project was a self-motivated project; I approached it as a real-case situation.
I want to thank the Roon team and its community of users with whom I was in contact during this project.
As Designer - and Roon user - I've always found this software editor's philosophy interesting: their cross-platform products are based on Emotional Design.
One of the many challenges of this project was running the usability tests without hearing music. A whole dimension was missing, making the usability tests challenging to evaluate!
During the business analysis phase, the last Music Consumer Insight Report* published by International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) had been essential to understand the music industry trends and some strategic choices Roon LLC made.
*Music Consumer Insight Report, published by IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), in September 2017
The first step was zooming in low level: how the app works, for whom and what are its benefits.
The end-users profiles I identified were:
From the market analysis, I created two personas: Anthony the Nerdiophile and Lisa the Professional.
To evaluate and identify problems, I ran:
I have appreciated these two methods: being a long-time Roon user myself, these helped to take a step back and put on the UX Researcher cap. The problems I identified as user are not necessarily the ones I focused on the project!
I identified four major problems in the following functions:
To rank these problems and define on which ones I should focus on, I conducted four in-person usability tests and interviews. One participant was a Roon user, the others were not, yet they were familiar with streaming applications such as Apple Music or Spotify.
“The minus and the plus buttons are too small, I can’t see what I’m doing!
It’s a bit dangerous, that’s why I added some [volume] limitations”
— Antoine [Roon user]
Participants encountered some difficulties during the usability tests. The most alarming paint points were that participants couldn't use easily essential functionalities, such as adjusting the volume or modifying the zoning. Very annoying issues for a remote control app!
“My fingers are too big!” — Daniel
“It doesn't work - I can' do it!" (Frustration). If I select your white speakers [LS50W], it plays another song !!!” — Brian
“I made a typo - there’s no search results. Is it a bug?" — Olivia
During the redesign phase, I did my best to be respectful of Roon’s visual identity to ensure continuity between the existing app and my solutions.
I designed and tested some ideas/concepts by simply using a pen and paper to draw rapid ideations.
The wireframes & low-fidelity prototypes were designed with Sketch App. Using Craft, I synced the files into Invision to build an interactive prototype.
Keeping in mind Roon’s DNA and history, one of my goals was also creating a solution that was part of Roon’s emotional design philosophy.
On many audio equipments, the volume is adjusted with a potentiometer: designing a skeuomorphic element* for Roon and observe how participants would react to this new element had been a particularly exciting part of this project!
*Skeuomorphic Design: Don't Apply It Blindly by Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, Nielsen Norman Group
Using Invision to create interactivity prototypes, I organized a new round of usability tests with 6 participants, recruited among friends and acquittances. Most participants tried to turn up the volume buttons; some were enthusiastic about it!
Testing a music app without having the possibility to play music was the biggest challenge of this project!
One solution was to explain to participants that their favorite song was playing and, I asked them to imagine the different scenarios while testing the prototypes. I also used a plan of a house to explain the concept of zones (even if some popular music apps such as Spotify offers such feature.)
“Having full control is good.”(about the volume screen) — Steve
"We should Switch directly from the menu instead of doing it from the Volume screen” — Bin
“The mute button should be near the minus button, not on the top” — Tazuko
Analyzing the different feedback and observations, some iterations were made, such as adding a Switch Zone button to the bottom. Note that Roon desktop has an identical path; this modification offers more consistency between the two platforms.
This project was the opportunity to work on an existing app and design some solutions to improve it through Research and User Tests.
Conduct a market audit and identify Roon LLC product strategy were key-factors to understand this highly-competitive industry and Roon LLC positioning.
If I had to work on this project again, I would include in my Researches 50% of Roon users (both early adopters and new users) and 50% of non-users.
I would go further while testing the prototypes by organizing an evaluative research: how users modify the volume when they use Roon at home? What is the position of the phone: on a table, in their hands? Do they use the big volume button? Who's using it, who's not?...
Another possible lead: After conducting a Survey about implementing a Vocal Assistant to Roon, and depending the results, designing a VUI (Voice User Interface) would be a exciting possible future project (the current version of Roon app doesn't support VAs)
New iterations always bring powerful results!