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All Hail the Committee! Typo 2016 Talk Berlin

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This is the original speaking notes for a presentation given by Garrett and Prarthana for TYPO 2016. We shared how an internal design team faces the challenges of constant feedback in every direction.

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All Hail the Committee! Typo 2016 Talk Berlin

  1. 1. Headline 80pt Lorem ipsum dolor sit Subline 50pt lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur 70px 70px 70px 70px 118px 33px 118px 33px 118px 33px 118px 118px 118px 118px 33px 118px 33px 118px 33px 118px 118px 118px 70px70px 70px 60px 1477px min 70px images min 70px text Prarthana Johnson & Gerrit Kaiser ALL HAIL THE COMMITTEE! 1 Gerrit: intro, ca 3mins Hi. I’m Gerrit, [and I’m Prarthana] We’re from SoundCloud, and we’re an internet product company. We’ve noticed a thing, a change in the design industry, you may have too More and more design work is moving from classical agencies and studios to in-house design teams More and more designers want to do strategic, impactful long-term work and the time and space to iterate – rather than being called in at the last minute and never touching the work again. It’s also not just startups, every second bank is jumping on this train. ALL HAIL THE COMMITTEE! 2 things work a bit different in-house Design has gained seat at the table. But not alone corporation = committees. feel similar to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland Many voices want to be heard all at once pulling in different directions sometimes speaking in riddles like the mad hatter, have lots of insight like cheshire cat or are in a hurry like the white rabbit a few stories of how we’re coping, how we’re defining the role of design in all of this SoundCloud the company St. Oberholz, 2007 Founded
 in 2007 by Alex and Eric, both artists and sound engineers Team
 300+ people across Berlin, London, San Francisco and New York 3 but first – Prarthana will give you a short introduction about SoundCloud and what we do Prarthana: company intro, 5 -6 mins (the clock should say around 16:05) 1. Soundcloud was founded by Alex and Eric in 2007.. both still very active at soundcloud this is a picture of a few people who started working with them. They were made up of sound engineers and artists. 2. We are now more than a startup and we continue to grow currently at about 300 people worldwide across Berlin, London San Francisco and New York. 3. This is still the foundation of soundcloud, a music streaming platform by people who wanted to share their passion of music creation Creator products Embedded Player Pulse app on Android & iOS Upload & Share Analytics 4 1. And we make sure we do that by providing several tools that help creators 2. Artists can upload and share instantaneously 3. They can connect to their current audience and fans 4. We also help them grow their fan base and see how well their music is doing by checkin in on stats on Soundcloud pulse
  2. 2. — Lorde, 2014 This time last year I was making a SoundCloud, and a Twitter, and a Tumblr, all in the name Lorde. I hoped it’d be alright. 2014 GRAMMY Song of the Year 2014 GRAMMY Best Pop Solo Performance 5 1. Lord is a great example of an artist that came to the soundcloud platform to share her debut EP in 2013 2. In 2014, she won a grammy and has become a well known artist 3. Which makes soundcloud a great place for artist to start their careers to reach an audience directly and immediately All kinds of music & audio From electro to indie, rock to remixes, politics to punk, comedy to hip-hop 6 1. We continue to have artist to come to our platform to break new material or share their craft. 2. We also have types of musics and sounds on our platform from sound effects, podcasts, to church sermons, mainstream music to many genres and subgenres 3. We even go to the extremes micro genres like dolphin drop which can’t be found anywhere else. 4. SoundCloud creators and listeners are shaping the future of our music culture Connected Devices Listener Products Desktop Android app iOS app 7 1. Our listeners are equally essential and our core of our products help people find the music they didn’t even know they love 2. We offer the soundcloud suite of products across several platforms that includes iOS, android, web 3. and even connected devices such as sonos and the apple watch Scale 125m+ tracks 12m+ creators 175m+ listeners 8 1. We operate at a massive scale 2. with Global Unique Listeners: More than 175 million unique listeners monthly. 3. Global Reach: Today, more than 125 million tracks are available on SoundCloud. 4. Creators: More than 12 million creators are heard on SoundCloud every month.
  3. 3. Listening to users 9 P: intros now Gerrit is going to talk about how we hear from the one of our largest committee of our 175 m/monthly users and growing.. G: User Feedback area 8mins (the clock should say around 16:10) Our apps have a large number of very diverse users. 175m opinions we go out and talk to the community of listeners and creators market research and, ethnography user experience research but most of the time they come and talk to us Desktop Font change —@Nubobot42 hello @soundcloud you thought nobody would notice but yes i did! the new font is really beautiful.
 nice change, guys 10 we get a *lot* of feedback, even when we ship things that we don’t expect users to notice - interstate as our house typeface for years. - thanks to tobias frere jones worked w FontBureau and introduced a new custom font more i18n coverage, better kerning and some tweaks to numerals (because we show a lot of stats in our interface) it’s very nice to make things for such have a hyper-aware and hyper-critical community Democratic design need to ‘shop “boaty” name onto this BOATY MC BOATFACE 11 what we don’t do, is democratic design story of boaty you don’t want to give away ownership need to set the expectation right, not give impression of democracy temptation is to either slavishly do everything people ask for (and end up with a grotesque kitchen-sink product) or dismiss most feedback arrogantly. Built to order Google Cast support 12 They asked for it – we delivered chrome cast lots of strong requests, over the years - but in the end, not many active users (for our scale, for number of requests) As designers we care about what we make and care about making our users happy finding out
  4. 4. “Classic” SoundCloud 13 story of a big launch. our first site product, evolved over the years to be a powerful platform for creators to share their music despite assuming that you were creator millions of listeners found their way onto SC The NEXT SoundCloud 14 NEXT: Green-field redesign Big jump ahead for the company as a brand First time open orientation towards listener/consumer, acknowledgement of long-standing reality that majority of people didn’t create themselves long time in development. Big risk. private beta, ~1 year, test, hone, improve Protest Songs 15 Tony Ford [MUSIC PLAYING] ca. 30s snippet -blacked-out profile pic campaign, Protest song - strong feelings :( twitter outrate, petitions on change.org people look at old versions of software like an old releationship The NEXT SoundCloud 16 - it was seemingly minor issues that hurt our users most - artists that were paying for pro - feature a few items at the top of their profile, a feature called “spotlight”. - Because track items were larger in NEXT, that number had shrunk from 5 to 3. - re-instate old limit - limit, quelling a significant portion of the discontent - more importantly – creating goodwill by signalling to our invested userbase that we were listening to their concerns.
  5. 5. Circular Avatars 17 - different scale: a design change that might seem small on the surface - different kinds of objects on SC that show up all over the place: tracks, playlists, users, - prepping for the launch of a fourth, stations - all of them were represented by little squares on screen - Nobody asked for this, as designers wanted to make it obvious at a glance what kind of thing you’re looking at, and that wasn’t the case in lots of place. - easier scalability of lists, subtle effects - Found a solution: circle shape pretty standard in industry. User reaction 18 The demographic of our web app users is different, so we a lot of twitter feedback to give you a sense the amount of tweets for this change similar size as some major product launches we did Josh Hare Our favourite piece of feedback made the same morning super-passionate about product, invested Unsolicited advice 19 Unsolicited design by designers we get sent these a lot (or not) it’s a category on dribbble no-one likes it when people point out mistakes or think they know better. but also flattering, and source of inspiration fresh eyes https://dribbble.com/search?q=soundcloud+redesign Press 20 G, intro’s P to talk about the press as a committee P: 5 mins (the clock should say around 16:18) 1. The press has been an interesting shift in design and for today’s products. Because when the press talks about new products one of the first things they talk about either how amazing the product experience is! 2. Or how bad it fails for them! 3. We also have a slack channel around articles and many times have conversations on what is in the news. 4. Why is It important as a designer is to hear how they talk about the shifts in culture of your product space and see how your design is received
  6. 6. — Alexander Dias The most annoying things for modern musicians is a SoundCloud takedown or account suspension, especially when not justified. Here's why you need not worry… 21 1. Last year was a hard year. Internally we were working hard on plans to sign deals with music labels and create a subscription service. 2. During that time, the press hit us hard with how we were taking down music that copyrighted music many of our artist complained 3. In this article on Ask Audio, it helped our case and explained why music was taken down. 4. as a designer bad press and it can be hard to ignore as a designer you want to fix everything.. — Billy Steele SoundCloud's subscription service is a mess. Some reorganizing would help, but right now it's a chore to use. 22 1. This year is different we its better we have launched a subscription service called soundcloud go that competes directly with Spotify 2. We started getting feedback on launch. This article appeared on Engadget. 3. and It was harsh. Claiming its a mess! and a chore to use! 4. as head of design it was hard to take, I cringed, its tough to hear that something your team is working so hard on isn’t working. All we could do is focus on the feedback and keep at it. — Scott Wilson and John Twells Is SoundCloud Go a serious streaming contender? 23 1. There were more articles about our business changing 2. it is the same as before, but now that we charge for it, they call us a “music streaming service” We are now rival! 3. This article on FACT MAG had great feedback, it was constructive, with deep critique 4. As a designer, we took that feedback to improve on our design and prioritise our next business decisions — Matt Ogle, MusicAlly, on Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature It really helped to dispel the myth that discovery is a niche thing. A tastemaker thing… 24 1. The press also can write amazing articles around the theory of music or the future. 2. In this article on Music ally was about music discovery of it. It chatted deeply about tastemakers and how find great music. 3. As a designer it was great to be inspired and help influence your next round of design concepting
  7. 7. — James Pinkstone, vellumatlanta.com Why I Ditched Apple Music 25 1. Some articles post about our competitors doing right and what isn’t working so well 2. This article on Huffington Post shares an complaint of an artist who creates their own music tracks. Apple music copied the track put in the cloud but deleted it on there local computer. Setting up temporary panic. 3. It might not be Apples core user but it is ours. Its a mistake we can’t not afford as a designer its important not to make the same mistakes. The race to be different Competitors 26 Prarthana: 5 mins (the clock should say around 16:28) 1. walk through the high level slide lanes. As you heard we are now a rival to to another streaming service spotify they are in the lead We have pandora that is no longer as competitive. We have Apple music is still too new from their change There are also messaging experiences like snapchat entering the scene Then there is us Soundcloud catching up 2. Why is It important as a designer to look at competitors to help identify what they are doing and what we at soundcloud need to do that is unique to us. 3. Lets take a look at the some of the others.. 27 1. Looking at trends in other apps is important 2.Being social, and sharing.. right Gerrit? look at Gerrit 3.pause.. people can laugh.. 4.But also its something for us to look at it.. should we be fun or be more social.. Soundcloud is a social platform is core to who we are and definitely something we want to continue to explore. 28 1. there is spotify and they are doing some great things . 2. They have discover weekly to help that helps you find music 3. Several of their offerings are similar. But we are truly different, we have much more unique content
  8. 8. 29 1. There is also pandora who has done some great work helping people find new music and listen for long times. 2.Its definitely what we care about and look as an example especially since and we also have a feature called stations but it is only a small part of our experience 3.So when we look at this product we have to look how our product is unique to us and not do the same thing Internal 30 P: now Gerrits is going to share a few stories around what its like to work with our final committee which is within soundcloud Gerrit: 10 mins to talk (the clock should say around 16:32) Inside the company design team PMs engineers data analysts CEO/co-founders/execs business stakeholders Our Design team 17 People. Product Designers, UI Designers, UX Researchers, Prototypers 31 product designer role (everything designer. strategic, ownership) embedded, end-to-end PMs, DRIs feature teams prototypes & visual/UI designers to complement specialised UX researchers who help us gathering the rights insights (tie back to case studies before) Data-informed design Sharing is caring 32 design principles, Fighting for them fullscreen player: pride signature moment when you tap artwork player designed for you to do two things – control playback + like as what we call primary engagement action others one more tap away constant battle to defend this purism. opening floodgates
  9. 9. Data-informed design Sharing is caring 33 - full impact weren’t fully measurable - look at brandsymbiosis of music creators and their fans and listeners., community & sharing core - Liking useful but it’s private, lonely. - Music is passion, make sharing that easier - data-driven: eg. example of google testing 52 shades of blue. - data-informed: interpreting quantified insights. one important source - Have principles, but prioritise the right ones. - UI design purity is important but success of creators and company more Autoplaying related music Defensive Design 34 - autoplaying related tracks: from idea to design principle - Designed to surface content, suggest new music that you never knew you’d like - they didn't like the idea. wanted opt-in, or at least warning - data usage. would we cost people money? limit it just to wifi - talking to users suggested defensive design - after reviewing internally and testing w users, none of those solutions seemed to fit - felt it didnt do feature justice - so we just did the simplest thing possible: just play the tracks —@J0EKAY (Soulection) SoundCloud's "related" songs have been coming through clutch for me. i've been discovering amazing music off the digs i've been finding —@giannadolor when the you're too lazy to change the playlist on soundcloud so you just play related tracks and it's hella fire 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 35 - after launch, we were expecting push-back. asking our community team for daily updates on feedback – nothing negative - just tweets like these that came rolling in - a feature no-one asked for - but when we built it, overwhelming majority of people loved it - most people don’t even notice when their playlist has ended and they are in autoplay-land - Now: Differentiator – the music never stops. Different kind of product. Less to worry about need real screenshot of REAL FRIENDS / NO MORE PARTIES release (this is the real tweet, they just replaced the track later on) 36 fast forward a few months in january this year. kanye west starting dropping new track every Friday preview/teaser for album that he called “swish” at the time and ended up being “the life of pablo” he has a huge following on soundcloud and on twitter The second track he posted, REAL FRIENDS caused something a nice back story https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/689056837077827589
  10. 10. Unexpected outcomes 37 On the first day the first track that was autoplayed next was LOWKEY, by a perhaps surprising source: a 17-year old high schooler from Kansas City that produces music in his mother’s basement Related tracks are determined using a variety of so called-signals, eg. “other people that have listened to this song also listened to…”, likes, reposts etc. The reason this track showed up when Kanye’s track was still fresh was that our music analysis algorithms found something that they was musically similar — Rory Fresco Shout-out to
 da algoriddim 38 and loads of listeners and music press agreed. had a few plays, now a few million, went viral. - built for listeners. We want them to discover. - dynamic and update with time as listening behaviour changes - Just like the way we introduced this feature – no one knew they wanted it, but ended up being successful for both listeners and creators All kinds of artists break their music on SoundCloud. Lorde, Kanye & Rory Fresco. this is success in product design, this is why we do this to support amazing community THE COMMITTEES Users Press Competitors Internal 39 G: so those were a few examples of some of the committees we have to consider at soundcloud. over to Prarthana [P: Wrap-up 3 mins (the clock should say around 16:42)] 1. All of our committees give us quite of feedback 1. The biggest committee of 175 monthly listeners users 2. to the press that can provide share great wins 3. or our competitors that are doing it better 4. down to all the stakeholders and teammates within soundcloud ALL HAIL THE COMMITTEE! 40 Our committees are just like the ones that Alice confronts as she embarks on her journey in wonderland. She gets lots of input from everyone from the cheshire cat to the queen of hearts. But much like the Mad tea party table is quite like the executive table at soundcloud. But notice all the people at the table and Alice
  11. 11. Changes & choices 41 1. As a designer on a journey you have to make a choices, just like alice in as she begins her journey as she falls down the rabbit hole 2. she is confronted with a choice to drink or eat. She tries one… then another and eventually enters the world to wonderland. 3. at soundcloud our products are changing, the music business is changing, our users needs are changing. The Designer 42 1. The role of the designer has also changed. 2. Designers today are like Alice venturing into the unknowns with all kinds of conflicting information from all types of committees 3. it is the best time to be a designer. 4. Because today more and more design has a seat at the table taking a risks to design great experiences 5. So be like Alice unlock the key to designing great expeirences . soundcloud.com/go
 soundcloud.com/jobs prarth@soundcloud.com
 gerrit@soundcloud.com Thanks! 43 P: (the clock should say around 16:45) 1. We are now launching internationally with our subscription service soundcloud go 2. which is now available in US, UK, Ireland and France and will get even bigger 3. so we could use your help.. WE ARE HIRING!!! 4. Thank you!!

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