Soundcloud: How can designers upgrade UX while maintaining the user-brand relationship?

Done in collaboration with another product designer, Nisha Charagulla, this redesign case study explores SoundCloud, a prominent music platform and community. Since Nisha and I are frequent users of SoundCloud, we appreciate its service-- and simultaneously recognize its issues.

While SoundCloud has a really unique niche that a lot of small artists value, it is, at its core, unintuitive and disorganized. This platform is a space for young, emerging artists to build their fanbase and credibility, but its mission is inefficacious when its user interface doesn't reflect that message.

By conducting user interviews, synthesizing research, identifying pain points, and working with my team to come to a consensus about interactions we’d like to implement while maintaining SoundCloud’s brand, we created a more intuitive and polished SoundCloud that improves the user experience significantly.
2 months
User Research
UI/UX Design
High Fidelity Prototyping
[1] why redesign Soundcloud?
introducing soundcloud

SoundCloud is one of the music application giants, known for promoting small artists in uploading music that wouldn't necessarily be found on other platforms, such as Spotify or Apple Music. However, with the issues stated above, it has severe repercussions for the users and the company.

• Users have difficulty in navigating the app, which affects their frequent and continued usage of the app.

• SoundCloud's mission is to boost underrated artists. With an arduous interface that isn't polished, it's difficult to legitimize their artists. It's important for small artists to continue to use this platform and for users to have this platform to listen to and support these artists, whose music might not be available elsewhere.

user research
[2] our design thinking process
user personas & defining user pain points
Our design thinking process can be broken down into a few steps:

• Rapid fire brainstorming with one another. What interactions can we recall with the app that are inconvenient?

• Conducting user interviews with people who are avid users of the app. What pain points can we identify that can be translated into features to solve these issues? How can we identify why these pain points matter—beyond the aesthetics?

• After synthesizing and drawing comparisons between our research to find common themes, we focused on creating lo-fi sketches to visualize our redesign, keeping in mind how we can make changes while still maintaining SoundCloud's brand.

Design, design, design! Creating hi-fidelity mockups and prototypes allowed us to bring our creation to life.
To browse through the remaining four personas or the user pain points, click below!
read personaspain points
low fidelity
[3] user flow

After combing through both of our sets of interviews, we found common pain points amongst users. Organized by different screens, Nisha and I began to make UI changes that were informed by the UX difficulties our interviewees were experiencing:

Click here to view Soundcloud's UI


• Genres only show up within recommendations, so users should be able to select the genres that interest them in a simple way.

• Many of the sections are repetitive (More of what you like, SoundCloud weekly, Artists you should follow, etc.), so sections should be regrouped to have an intentional and clearer meaning to their purpose.

• The sections are separated using boxes, but this makes the UI seem cluttered and disjointed, so opting for a more synchronous look in style can make the interface more organized and fluid.

• Sections that are still relevant to most users and should continue to be included: New tracks, SoundCloud weekly, Genre selection


• The sections are separated using boxes, but this makes the UI seem cluttered and disjointed, so opting for a more synchronous look in style can make the interface more organized and fluid.

• The size and location of music descriptions are inaccessible due to readability issues, and are confusing to those who are not used to navigating the application. The relocation of descriptions (titles, etc.) should be used to create a simpler and readable page.


• Interacting with certain parts of a search result is difficult to complete due to the location of different buttons, so each result could be iterated on to relocate buttons and adding more accessible features.


• Aggregating artist profiles and album covers in the Recently Played section looks uneven and can be confusing to navigate without any clear differentiation between the two (aside from the varying shapes). Separating artists from the Recently Played to create a new section (Your Artists) would alleviate the issues of finding albums or artists users want to listen to.

• Users indicated challenges when trying to skip a song, feeling that there were too many steps to complete to do so. A single button in a minimized sticky music player bar would make navigating to the next song a frictionless experience.

A decision that didn't make it to hi-fi:

• Users reported that Soundcloud is a platform they use to find underground music, so liked tracks should have the option to be private or public by the user.

high fidelity
[4] hi-fi mockups

[6] the power of collaboration

This case study was crucial in teaching me how to collaborate with designers in a professional setting. By uniting our minds and combining our ideas to create the most optimal solution for both the company and the users, I was able to perfect how to articulate and communicate my design decisions effectively.

This study also allowed me to really empathize with Soundcloud's users (both listeners and artists), listen to their pain points, and reorganize its interface to create a more intuitive user flow. Alongside this, I had a unique experience maintaining Soundcloud's brand while redesigning its interface. Both of these experiences worked together to teach me how to design for users and the company.

If I could take this project further, I would implement more features based on how users interact with the app, like private likes and hiding the "Recently Played" section. By conducting usability tests to measure its success, I could continue iterating based on those results.

This redesign has helped me work on a lot of soft skills, such as open-mindedness, teamwork, and communication. It also allowed me to add onto my design toolbelt by experimenting with new programs.