Sony Music

Sony Music Australia engaged Sakura Sky to help them redesign their online music platform Bandit.fm to better serve it’s audience.

This is my story about how I redesigned Bandit.fm to improve the experience of discovering and purchasing music online.

Sony Music Australia had neglected the Bandit.fm website and it was in much need of a redesign to improve the user experience, branding, visual design, information architecture and optimising the platform for mobile devices.

Team, Timeline & Deliverables

My role was Lead UX Designer, and I worked with the talented team from Sakura Sky which included; Olivia Storelli (COO), Andrew Stevens (CTO), Tim Savage (Director - Software Research & Development).

During the initial 2 weeks onsite at the Sony Music Australia offices I completed;

  • website audit
  • competitor research
  • user surveys
  • personas
  • UX recommendations documentation

For the remaining 4 weeks in-house with Sakura Sky I delivered;

  • wireframes for mobile, tablet and desktop devices
  • high-fidelity visual designs
  • final exported assets ready for implementation

Discovery

To kickoff the project I worked onsite to start the discovery process with internal stakeholder interviews to gather valuable information and gain a deeper understanding of their business objectives and website analytics.

A website audit was performed to obtain a high level overview of the website in regards to the current user experience, screen flows, user interface elements, information architecture, responsiveness, visual style guide and brand awareness. This led to the discovery of numerous improvement recommendations across the site.

Key competitors were reviewed to develop a better understanding of the online music platform landscape and help to inform my decisions and recommendations.
 

Utilising the information gathered so far, I was able to create a detailed user survey that would provide insights into the target markets behaviours, needs and motivations. Four key personas were then synthesised based on the gathered user survey data.

Wireframing

Wireframing started with lots of whiteboard sketches to explore various ideas for the homepage, purchase widgets and sub pages. The homepage went through multiple revisions to arrive at the final design which balances the primary call to action visibility, music discovery functionality, visual clarity and responsiveness across mobile, tablet and desktop devices.
 

A header slider was used to provide the greatest visibility to multiple promotional campaigns for it’s usability & easy customisation for targeted marketing messages. It drastically reduced the overall visual clutter of the previous website header area and enhanced the primary call to actions.

The placement of the “New Releases This Week” & “What’s Hot” components were prioritised to satisfy the business needs of promoting Sony’s latest releases and also improving discoverability of what’s new & trending for users while also providing more content within a smaller vertical space.

The preview component for the “Top Songs” “Top Albums” and “Top Merchandise” components iterated numerous times to explore new concepts for enhancing functionality and the redemption/buy call to actions. The final design permitted the following interactions;
1. preview music track
2. find out more information regarding the song, album, artist or merchandise product
3. redeem your points to purchase the song, album or merchandise product
4. buy the song, album or merchandise product

The flexibility of the new preview component greatly improved the user experience interactions with the homepage content. 

The whiteboard sketches were then translated to Balsamiq wireframes and further extended to include component states and additional user flow screens.

Visual Design

Sony Music granted a lot of flexibility regarding usage of the Bandit.fm brand, mentioning that they we’re happy with the current colour palette and were open to suggestions. So in order to align the Bandit.fm brand with Sony Music I decided to adopt the primary colour palette of red, black and white from sony Music.
 

This simple colour change gave the Bandit.fm brand more visual strength, boldness and clarity while also providing continuity with it’s parent company.

The revised brand and colour palette was then applied to all of the website visual designs.
 

Feedback

The redesigned Bandit.fm website was well received by Gavin Parry (Executive Vice President - Sony Music Asia & ANZ) and all stakeholders involved were impressed with my process and the solutions I delivered. 

Tim coded up the website and setup templates for integration within Sony’s internal systems - everything was ready for launch… and then silence.

A few weeks later I received feedback that Sony Music wasn’t in a position to implement the new designs due to internal resource allocations and other urgent priorities.

To this day Bandit.fm is still using their old design. I don’t take this personally as these situations sometimes occur when dealing with large corporations - it’s just a shame as it’s their users that suffer as a result.

Lessons Learned

One of my personal goals with each project I work on is to learn new skills and continually grow as a designer. I really enjoy discovering new techniques, refining my current skill set and creating solutions that hopefully inspire and delight users.

During this project I learnt how to optimise my user research process to discover the minimum data for maximum UX impact - you have to get creative with your time and resources available when you’re a UX-team-of-one.

I also enhanced my Photoshop workflow for designing complex responsive websites with the use of smart objects and shape layers, this also helped improve my workflow for exporting the final visual assets ready for development.  

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