Smule Karaoke -
Singing Collaboration Redesign

This is a redesign of the singing collaboration experience.  For your favorite duet, finding a perfect singing partner to join now becomes an efficient and enjoyable experience. 

THE CHALLENGE

Redesign the Smule Karaoke application so that collaborating with a singing partner is an efficient, easy and a delightful experience for the user.

BACKGROUND

In this design challenge, I first had to understand what my users mean by "sharing of music" and what products they use to achieve the same. Once a definitive conclusion was reached, I had to dig deeper to understand their pain points and unmet needs and provide a design solution for the same. 

TIMELINE

4 weeks

This is a capstone project done to practice redesigning a feature of an existing product.

THE DESIGN PROCESS

Click on a box from the slider below in order to directly jump to that section. 

 

RESEARCH

USER RESEARCH

To empathize and understand the pain points and unmet needs of the users, I conducted user interviews and ethnographic studies. 

Two rounds of research were conducted.

ROUND 1

GOAL

What do my users mean by “sharing music” and what products do they use for the same.

ROUND 2

GOAL

What are the unmet needs and the pain points my users experience while they attempt to sing a duet on Smule 

USER SEGMENT

The users that I interviewed in both the rounds had genuine love and varying levels of knowledge of music.

 

RESEARCH SYNTHESIS

USER RESEARCH

Persona creation and Empathy mapping were done in order to empathize, gain insights, observe patterns and understand the pain points and unmet needs of the users. 

PERSONA

NISHA

Music is the food for soul! 

There is more joy in sharing. The more people you get together as a community to support the same thing, the more motivated you are to do it more.!

I thrive with the sense of collaboration and community.

ARCHETYPE

Understands music. Has a full time job and a family. 

PAIN POINTS

  1.  For a song, finding that satisfactory recording is a time consuming, tedious and frustrating process. 

  2. Listening to each recording for selecting a singing partner makes me feel impatient.

  3.  Each track has a plethora of  information points like: karaoke track uploader name, karaoke track quality rating, singer’s name, other collaborators, open to join or not, number of days left to join, number of likes, number of comments etc.

  4. Finding people whom I would like to follow (for future collaborations) is like searching in the dark

  5. Lengthy scrolling, Unsorted, Uncategorized invites

  6. Maintaining a list of followers and a list of the people I am following gets very messy after a certain usage. 

  7.  No idea on what basis the recommendations of other singers, karaoke tracks, join invitations, recorded songs are given.

UNMET NEEDS

  1. Smule does not remind / prompt / notify the user about the song she wished to sing but could not, whenever  someone new sings it, or a new karaoke track gets uploaded, or an invite happens to come by etc.

  2. Saving songs on phone

  3. Parameters considered for ranking a recording, a singer etc. are not specified

  4.  Notification when a request to join for a song is about to expire

MOTIVATIONS

  1. Have a relaxing and a joyful time

  2. Collaborate and join with other singers

  3. Practice and perfect a song

  4. Feel a part of larger community

  5. Learn from seasoned singers

EMPATHY MAPPING

DOING

What does a typical day look like for Nisha?

Do Office Work

Commute to work and back home

Record a song or two on Smule

Cook and Do household chores

Spend time with children

Exercise

Find singers to collaborate with

Share the recording with friends and family using Whatsapp

Listen and study a song on YouTube

Find duet recordings to join 

SEEING

What is Nisha's environment like?

Attend Karaoke parties at friends’ place

Children learn music too and collaborate very frequently on smule

Cousins collaborate on smule to record duets for special occasions like birthdays, anniverseries etc

Call over neighbors to have karaoke sessions at home with the new karaoke system she has recently purchased

THINKING AND FEELING

What are Nisha's hopes, dreams or fears?

What is important to her?

“Music is the food for my soul”

“I enjoy more in collaborating with others rather than singing alone. Sharing is a lot more fun”

“I care about the quality of singing of the other singer. It has to be good enough for me to collaborate with him or her

“Biggest stress buster and biggest relaxation is listening to good music.

“I hope it was easier to select a duet of my choice without listening to so many recordings!”

“ I don't have time to spend hours and hours in searching for a good duet  recording to join”

"Listening to each track for selecting a singing partner makes me feel impatient"

“I am not looking for building social relationships with the singers I collaborate with. How could I be sure about that person? “

“It is fantastic that I get to sing with my cousins who are also on Smule”

“There are certain duet recordings which have a great sentimental value for me because they were recorded for a special ocassion.”

HEARING

What influences Nisha?

“You sing beautifully, you should sing and collaborate more often”

Collaborating on Tamil language songs take me the college days - fun and carefree

Collaborating on old songs takes me back to my country India where I was born and brought up

Other singers sending requests, asking her to join in their songs

“You should create a collection of all the songs you sing and collaborate on.

PROBLEMS DEFINITION

PROCESS

FIND THEMES

Cluster learnings into themes

GENERATE INSIGHTS

1 theme = 1 or N insights

PICK TOP 3-5 INSIGHTS

TRANSFORM INSIGHTS TO HMWs

PICK TOP 3 HMWs

PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED

The top three HMWs that I found the most interesting and of greater value are noted here:

For a particular song, how might we make the search for the perfect singing partner, efficient, easy and delightful for our users

How might we make the visual presentation of the recordings such that the metadata associated with it like the name of the song, the name of the singer, the name of the karaoke uploader etc. is very clear and pleasant to the eyes?

How might we make the process of finding other singers that the user wants to follow for future collaborations, a lot less random than it is today

 

IDEATION

PROBLEMS

For a particular song, how might we make the journey for finding the perfect singing partner, efficient, easy and delightful for our users

IDEAS

Offer multiple ways through which a singing partner can be found:

  1. Live Jam

  2. Existing open collaboration requests

  3. Request a singer from a recording to sing with you

  4. Singers who sing similar songs

  5. Invite singers whom you follow

  6. Fill in your voice with the original artist

  7. Show other songs from the same movie / album

A visually and cognitively cleaner and clearer UI

  1.  Clear labeling: sections, tracks

  2.  A consistent data / information format for each track and section 

  3.  No emoticons, punctuation marks

Know the singer more instead of the feeling of singing with a stranger

  1.  Singer profile to be more informative

  2.  Social media links

  3. Reviews

  4. Send a message

SINGER BADGE

A snapshot conveying:

  1. how new or senior the singer is  on Smule

  2. how strong the singer is - a professional, a beginner 

  3. singer's versatility etc. 

Add useful information for the singers who have open collab invites :

  1. Singer badge

  2. Link to singer profile

  3. A short clip of the singing

Notifications

  1. When a new karaoke track uploaded for the song

  2. When a new collaboration invite gets created

  3. When a new recording gets created

How might we make the visual presentation of the recordings such that the metadata associated with it like the name of the song, the name of the singer, the name of the karaoke uploader etc. is very clear and pleasant to the eyes?

SONG INFORMATION CARD

Provides all the information about the song along with an appealing poster. Acts like a primary record in a DB. The users who upload karaoke tracks of this song or sing this song will refer to this instead of repeating the same information multiple times in different formats.

STANDARD TRACK FORMAT

Each Karaoke track maintains a  standard format: 

 All map to the same picture

Contain the same information like the Song Name and the Karaoke Uploader Name.

No emoticons and punctuation marks. Restriction on the kind of data that can be entered.

How might we make the process of finding other singers that the user wants to follow for future collaborations, a lot less random than it is today

SINGER BADGE

A snapshot conveying:

  1. how new or senior the singer is  on Smule

  2. how strong the singer is - a professional, a beginner 

  3. singer's versatility etc. 

Show the singers who sing similar songs

Find singers through notifications you get about your favorite songs:

  1. When a new collaboration invite gets created

  2. When a new recording gets created

 

INTERACTION DESIGN

TASK

For a particular duet song, explore ways to collaborate with a singer an

USER FLOW

SONG BOOK

SEARCH RESULTS

SINGER PROFILE

SEARCH RESULTS

JOIN

WIREFRAMING

uploading soon

 

HIGH FIDELITY DESIGN

SONG BOOK

SongBook.png

STANDARD TRACK FORMAT

  1.  Song Name

  2.  Movie Name.

  3.  Karaoke Track Uploader

The original design does not have uniformity regarding the track's information and order: could be the movie's name / singer's name/ track's name

 

EMOTICONS AND PUNCTUATION MARKS - REMOVED

None of these allowed in the metadata about the song
 

LABEL: KARAOKE TRACK UPLOADER
The name associated with the track needs to clearly indicate that this person is the karaoke track uploader. When seen in a larger setting, along with join invites and recorded songs, it gets highly unclear what this name means unless it is labeled: Is s/he the track uploader, the singer looking for invites, the singer who has already recorded this song?

NAME INSTEAD OF THE USER NAME

Provided a proper name of the uploader instead of a user name that sort of acts to hides the identity of the person.

 

GOOD QUALITY TRACK PICTURE

It works as the immediate identifier of the track. The picture does not have any text or any symbols on it (which is the case in original design)

MULTIPLE WAYS OF DISCOVERING A SINGING PARTNER

heroimagemobile.png

1.  SONG NAME and MOVIE NAME

Introduced a separate heading for the song name and the movie / album name. It is important to know what album or movie this song belongs to since there can be multiple versions of the same song and there can be multiple songs with similar names.

2. JOIN LIVE

Notifying the singer that there is an ongoing opportunity to collaborate LIVE with somebody at that very moment.

 

3. SONG INFORMATION CARD

Introduced a card giving out the important details along with the poster of this song. The poster and the details work like a primary record in a database. The people who upload karaoke tracks, who pass out invitations to join or the recordings need to not have this entire or the part of information repeated again and again in different formats.

4. RECORDED SONGS VS. KARAOKE TRACKS 

Existing application terms the Karaoke tracks as Songs which was confusing for my users.In my design, I have renamed it to “Karaoke Tracks” so that it is identified correctly.

 

5. NOTIFICATION

A new feature to notify the user if a new karaoke track gets uploaded for the song. This adds value in the case where the user is not happy with the quality of the existing Karaoke tracks or wants something more.

SINGER BADGE

Introduced a new concept of having a singer profile and a singer “level” . The badge level shows how “pro”, how popular, how new the singer is which gives an indication to the user searching for a collaboration partner.

SHORT CLIP

In order to check how the other singer sings, instead of sitting through the track from the beginning (through the music), the user can hear a 30 second clip which gives a demonstration of the singers voice and notes.

NOTIFICATION

A new feature to notify the user if a new collaboration invite gets created, so that in case the user did not like any of the joining invites s/he can wait for a new collaboration request to get created.

collabwithsingersphone.png
listentorecordingsphone.png

REQUEST TO SING AGAIN

The recordings that have already been created by the singers - you can request the singer to again sing the same song so that this time you can collaborate with him or her.

 

 

CLEAN AND CLEAR LAYOUT

The layout of the recording panel has also been changed to make it more visual and user friendly. The older design allows the user to add any details in any format. The new design removes this as all the information of the song is now mapped to the Song Information Card.

 

 

NOTIFICATION

A new feature to notify the user if a new recording gets created in case the user likes the voice and wants to collaborate with that singer again

 

SINGERS WHO SING SIMILAR SONGS

A new feature where you will be matched to other singers based on certain criteria and the choice of the song you want to sing. Those singers will pop up in your list and you can invite them to sing this song.

 

INVITE TO START THE DUET

Inviting people whom you follow to sing this song so that you can join them.

singerswhosingsimilarsongsphone.png
singwithartistphone.png

SING WITH THE ORIGINAL SINGER

A new feature where you have an opportunity to fill in your voice with the recording of the original artist of the song

 

OTHER SONGS FROM THE SAME MOVIE / ALBUM

Finally if the user is still dissatisfied and has not found any alternative to sing this particular song with a partner, s/he can choose a different song from the same movie / album. The chances are high that the other songs from the movie/album are of interest to the user given that the lyricist, music director and playback singers could be the same.

 

SINGER PROFILE

KNOW THE SINGER MORE

The newer design gives an opportunity to know the singer more since the singer can provide various social media links. Through this the user can find more about the singer and not feel that she is singing with a total stranger.
 

SINGER BADGE

Gives an idea about the level of the singer, for example, how new, hold old, how professional, how amateur the singer is.
 

ABOUT

A new section giving a lot of information about the singer is provided. This helps the user in getting matched in terms of their common musical interests.

profileheroimage.png
REVIEWSPHONE.png

A WELL WRITTEN REVIEW whether a positive or a constructive, provides a wealth of information about the singer’s singing style, attitude, collaboration technique etc. It can be helpful to the user who is looking for collaborating with him.

 

PRODUCT PROTOTYPE

USABILITY TESTING

TASK

For your favorite duet, find a karaoke track and a recording / partner you would like to collaborate with.

TESTING GOALS

Are all the user pain points and unmet needs addressed by this design?

What new pain points and unmet needs are found during the testing?

Observe user’s overall experience of using the product with respect to features, interactions, content etc.

What did the users find
1. extraordinary

2. as expected

3. frustrating 

when using the product?

USERS

Shanthi

Age: 45

Regular Smule user. Knowledeable about music. 

Nikita

Age: 30

Regular Smule User.

Classically trained. 

Siddharth

Age: 28

Regular Smule User. 

Knowledgeable about music. 

TEST FINDINGS AFFINITY MAPPING

The users liked all the design ideas. Some of those are listed here:

 

The Song Card

 

Live Jam

Request to sing again

Clean and clear layout

Same thumbnail picture of the song

Detailed singer profile with social links and details

Short Clip of every singer's recording

The concept of the master record with karaoke tracks and recordings referring to it

Singer badge

Standard track format

Suggesting other songs of the movie or album

Features that need improvement

The concept of singing with the artist was not clear

Suggestion to provide this option at the very top of the experience

 

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

updating soon