Making Apple Music subscriptions seamless and increasing conversions with a new music transfer…

11 min read

14 hours ago

Making Apple Music subscriptions seamless and increasing conversions with a new music transfer feature.

(though it didn’t start off with this exactly😅)

Ahh! I have to give it away so soon. The music transfer feature; we call it “Move your Music.” Check out the prototype!

I did this project by myself: everything from UX Research to usability testing.

The story starts with my subscription to Apple Music; I had used Apple Music before on my iPad and my android, but switched to Spotify’s free plan. And this was my first time using Apple Music on my Mac. As I started using the app I immediately started noticing flaws in the app:

  • Navigation was very confusing and
  • Important accessibility issues in the music controls.

It was nothing like the Spotify’s web player.

I decided that this would be a great problem to solve for my first UX project. I began researching about the same problems and found out a brilliant Medium article that highlighted the problems with the Apple Music’s Mac app.

I wanted to find out for myself. So, I set out on a ‘mission’ that would (spoiler alert⚠️) change the whole track of the journey.

  • I don’t have an iPhone 😂
  • Lack of resources: I live in a small town and I don’t know a single person using Apple Music.
  • Not having insider data 📊 to make more informed decisions.
  • Apple not having a similar features or flows for my reference (to keep the iOS design consistent)

Although I found ways to overcome these constraints in some ways. Keep reading. ⬇️

👉🏻 My process was very non-linear so, I’ve tried my best to put it all together in a sensible manner.

I started off with a vague problem statement of fixing Apple Music’s search, navigation and interaction issues as I read that Medium article and saw those problems myself. With my experience using Spotify I started my desk research…

I soon realized that it was too much to solve for:

  • Navigation being a separate research and design process
  • Search experience being a different hustle.

Although I shouldn’t let that discourage me, Apple Music is a very big and complex product. Doing all this by myself would be a bad idea.

So I stepped back and went back to the drawing board. Around the same time, I wanted to transfer my stuff from Spotify to Apple Music, and I was searching apps that could help me do that; eventually I found one.

I learned that there’s a whole market out there for such tools for transferring music. So, that was it! I realized Apple has a big opportunity here.

After all the confusion I found a thing I can work on. I began to dig a big hole for myself (in a good way👍🏻)

Right, going through the whole story that happened so far I had a general idea of what to focus on. But,

⁇ I had a lot of questions!

That’s why I created a research problem statement that I kept coming back to for guidance.

There’s a lot of music streaming services; some have more features than others. As a UX designer you first want to understand how the music streaming business works. Study the quantitative data on Apple Music and the competition. You also want to understand the user behaviour when it comes to choosing a service and their pain points.

The purpose of research:

Well, I wanted to begin with a thorough understanding of the market and how these apps are growing year on year; this would aid me to understand how valuable a new feature be. Moreover, I needed to know which apps provide such a feature. By understanding the users’ pain points I required to validate my hypothesis that such a feature could be game changing.

Here’s some valuable insights I gathered:

Music streaming subscribers by app 2016 to 2022 (millions)
Comparison of two most popular services

Here’s a analysis of the competition:

Comparison of most popular apps for music transfer feature

After studying some of the most popular music apps and their features, the chart👆🏻 summarizes what I found. Other apps like YT and Amazon Music don’t have a native feature but support third party apps (which we will get to in a bit)

I was starting to see my hypothesis validating ✅, but of course the final verdict comes after listening to the users and their problems.

We’ve all heard of Apple’s recent growth amidst of the tech headwinds especially in countries like India (where Apple’s opened 2 stores). Apple has deployed many clever strategies: one of them is free trials to its services like Apple Music, Apple TV+, etc. Apple gives 1-month free trials for all its services including Apple One. This way Apple can give the users enough time to experience their apps and subscribe if they like.

Recent Apple News

When you buy new devices like iPhone or AirPods, you also get 6 months of Apple Music free which is very generous for a company that is notorious for its pricing and free goodies. 😂

Apple Music is 6-month free!

Apple is very vocal about their ‘Switch to iPhone’ ads; with an app that makes transferring all your stuff easy (same as what we want to do with Apple Music).

Switch to iPhone

All these things combined, and, yeah, the APPLE ECOSYSTEM, line up for apple to maximize their revenue from these services (which now contributes a major part of Apple’s business). How these strategies add up? Keep reading. ⬇️

👉🏻 This process was very non-linear too; as I kept coming back to hear out the users while in the later stages of the design process.

Before we begin, let’s address the elephant in the room.🐘 I didn’t go to the route of user interviews because of my constraints; it would’ve been resource heavy and a time consuming work. Instead, I chose YouTube and Reddit to get user insight and learn user behaviour 🧠. I believe the internet has FAR MORE value than I could ever get from interviewing few users. I targeted people who recently switched to Apple Music and who want to switch to Apple Music to get both the perspectives.

YouTube Research, yepp…😀

Going down a YouTube rabbit hole I wanted to learn about the users’ behaviour and pain points. (It was here that I got the idea of a music transfer feature, but i wanted to research more and get informed data.) I figured the best way to start was to understand the motivations and goals of the users in choosing a particular service — especially Apple Music — over others. The insights I collected:

Right, so I began to understand why people choose Apple Music or Spotify. I had a clear picture about the pain points of users with Apple Music. The important thing to note here is that the 🎧 audio quality of Apple Music was one of the main reasons why people switched. And later in the testing I found that Apple Music users tend to not switch to other services that easily because of ‘THE ECOSYSTEM 🕸️.”

But, let’s get to the transferring music bit now. Is the feature really useful? What are the current problems people face in the apps they use to transfer music. What needs addressing, and so on.

Is this feature really useful?

✔️All of my assumptions and hypotheses were being validated by getting to know the users and hearing them out.👍🏻 Like,

  • obviously, the feature being very valuable so that users don’t have to manually search the music,
  • The free trial strategy being very effective.

Although, not every thing is smooth sailing with the current methods out there. I found some the most common problems to be:

  • Users were disappointed at the subscriptions for transferring music through those apps. There is a very limited free version which isn’t helpful for transferring big libraries.
  • Many users were complaining of it not transferring the stuff properly (at times showing error.) Some users were also worried about their privacy and security as these (music transfering( apps require full access to the music services to fetch the data.

The Reddit flight ✈️

A boarding pass was issued to my name to go to one of the most dreaded places according to me. I had some important business to finish there; you should know that I’ve been banned from this place because someone abused me 🥲😂 and not the other way around. But, I had to make a new passport and fly.

I remembered Reddit after a long time because I felt it has a great community and subreddits on Spotify and Apple Music so, I gave it a second chance. To cut the story short here’s what I discoverd:

Posts and questions from users

Phew! So, after a lot of back and forth with the internet and YouTube, I validated my idea to work on a native music transfer feature on Apple Music. Yayy🎉 things get challenging from here.⚡️

The user persona looks something like this 💁🏼‍♂️:

User Persona

The Problem: defined 👀

Apple Music subscriptions are growing at a fast pace, and people often hesitate to switch to AM fearing losing their music. Design a new music transfer feature on Apple Music that is simple, fast and reliable. Make sure to follow the design of iOS and Apple Music.

Awesome.🤩 Lets get to it…

🤓 Understanding how music transfers work…

I then began to study the music transferring competition to understand how music transfers work. I studied a particular app in detail: SongShift. I used the app from many points and to transfer many elements and understood their flows. I also referred to other apps like Soundiiz and TuneMyMusic. But before I went to the drawing board (or we call it AppleJam: Freeform😂) there was the big iceberg 🧊 I had to cross through.

How it works?

Again, a big one. Apple has a very distinct design language than any other OS. And that carries into it’s stock apps like Apple Music, Podcasts, etc. I took a LOOOOONG time to research every single thing from buttons, navigation, modals, splash screens and what have you. It was very challenging to find a similar flow in Apple products. Putting all of the stuff together, this was my best guess to what Apple would do in such a feature.

🎨 Getting Inspired

I collected inspiration from Apple Music to visual lookup to iCloud shared photo library. Doing this research was very fun😍 I really enjoyed as I learned more and more about how the world’s biggest tech company designs its products down to the very t. Since I use an iPad, I had to run back and forth to my friend’s house to get screenshots from his iPhone.😂 Then I would use them to define my style guides and stuff.

and more…

👉🏻 I changed & iterated the wireframe many times on the small details as I researched alongside it. And I didn’t wireframe EVERYTHING, but the things I needed to.

Take a look 👀

Wireframe in Freeform
A glimpse

Made this far? Check out the prototype!

Here’s a quick look at my important design decisions:

Where to put the feature?
Important empty states and edge cases

Great, it came the time to test the design. OOH! I’ve to find users to test on.😭 But how will I? Well.. I did some texting in the group chats I was in, and got candidates for my testing.

I made sure that I make them feel very comfortable by being in touch at least a week before. I thanked them by giving away some Apple gift cards🎁. Some of them I knew they didn’t accept the gift cards.

I wanted to test the designs from various types of users to check the effectiveness and discoverability of the new feature.

✏️ The summary

I also followed up with them with a feedback form.

Feedback form
feedback form responses

📝 Notes from the testing

Important Findings and Analysis

At this point — after analyzing the finding and gathering insights — it makes sense to form HMVs on the insights we got from the usability testing. Lets address the most important problems in areas like heuristics, UX writing and components.

Making the matching process more simple
Making components clear and functional
Error message & more transfer options

The final changes are here ⬇️

Changes made: summarized

With that the Apple Music project came to an end 🥳

What’s the future?

As for the problem I started with like navigation, search and interactions on the Mac app, I believe Apple has been working on it because the app hasn’t been updated since a very looong time and this topic was also discussed on a recent MacRumors episode.

If I were to continue working on this project I would bring related features like syncing playlists and social aspect of music sharing that is poor on Apple Music. But, unfortunately I gotta move on to a very exciting project: deform 😍.

  • Design is best when you approach it with an non-textbook perspective.
  • How should I adopt different research methods based on the problem and constraints.
  • It has taught me the importance of research and user empathy and that I shouldn’t be consumed by those flashy UIs on social media.

These are very simple words but took me months to really adopt…👍🏻

Thanks for reading the whole thing!

We can connect on LinkedIn because great content on designing an AI product from scratch is coming very soon.

Read the full article here

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