Like most mobile applications during the early days of iOS and Android, the mobile product was treated and positioned primarily as a companion application to the main product: web. Most features were designed and built for desktop first and later integrated into the iPhone application.
Features and functionality had been prioritised over focus and clarity, and iOS had evolved from a fairly simple foundation into an extremely comprehensive application, serving usage, well beyond what most users were doing in the product. As SoundCloud’s userbase evolved from just creators to creators and listeners, it became increasingly unclear who the iOS product was for. The patterns of use didn’t correlate with how the app had been designed; people were using the app in ways it wasn’t at all optimized for.
All about The Listener
Moving forward, instead of catering to the needs of both creators and listeners in a single app, we realized that making SoundCloud accessible for an increasingly mainstream listener audience was a huge undertaking given it’s creator-focused roots, unique content, and unique feature set. We had to find that one clear profile that we were primarily designing for. A solid definition of who was at the core of the product.
We decided to completely focus the project on listeners with the aim of building dedicated mobile creator experiences down the road. And after years of building features and functionality catering to both creators and listeners — we put the listener in the front seat.
Taking our understanding of the existing product, we decided to strip it down to it’s very core, orienting the entire product around some of it’s most used features:
Lean-back discovery, find something trending socially or globally, automatically surfaced to you with minimal user input.
Lean-forward discovery, find something very specific to your tastes and preferences.
You and your Collection
Easy access to your Likes and Playlists.
Playback management, control your current play session and engage further with what you're listening to.
These experiences formed our base for rebuilding the information architecture and making sure the most important features were always obvious and emphasized.