Skip to main content

Using 4AD's search wheel

4ad is a British independent record label that began in 1979. Its former and current artists include the Pixies, Lush, The National, Bauhaus and Pale Saints. If that's not enough, the website is full of video, streams and downloads of their latest music from the homepage and flexible navigation including a prominent search box and a right-panel rolodex style for finding artists alphabetically and chronologically. There is also an interactive wheel used to search by artist or year. However, some components of the wheel are unclear and not useful.

Without any instruction, the wheel immediately suggests (by changing the mouse pointer from arrow to hand) that you can click and drag to a particular year or an artist; a corresponding white (or black handle) lets the user find specific information efficiently while a red handle (the 'Randomise Leaver') selects random artists from their catalogue. But the purpose of the red rectangle that contains some sort of number is not clear and the ABCD control (allowing you to go a letter page) on the top continually gave me 'no entry' when I used it.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't find either function useful when searching for music. Although the quick link to Wheel Help is visible, 4ad could improve the already good user experience of the wheel by simply removing the unnecessary components. This use of functional minimalism would make the wheel less complicated while not compromising its core functionality - finding great 4ad music.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ultimate Guitar's many Play buttons

In any UI, calls to action must be clear - represented either by intuitively labeled buttons, or instantly recognizable icons. When they're not, your users will have to do extra work to figure out how a feature works, how to get started, how to distinguish areas of the screen. This will cause them to hesitate, be confused, and simply take more time than needed to get something done. And they'll most likely forget next time they visit your app.

In the case of Ultimate Guitar, an excellent guitar community website which includes chords (and tabs) from 1000s of songs, the detailed view of a songs's chords have too many similar calls to action.



In the image above, notice the number of tappable elements that represent 'Play'. The first and second one (top of screen) seem to do the same thing - they briefly open a different, more robust view of the tabs, followed quickly by a modal asking me to upgrade. Not only are the options redundant but only the second one has a lab…

A site map for a music application

For the past several months, I've been working with the CHIRP Radio volunteer tech team to design a mobile solution that allows station DJs to plan out their weekly shows. At a high level, a DJ should be able to browse and select songs from a massive music library, and add them to one or more playlists, which can be used for their shows. The app also has functionality like the ability to read album reviews, view recent activity by DJs in the app, and review a DJ's profile.
A site map is an important artifact when designing any application or website. It shows how the overall navigation should be structured, can be used with end users to validate the taxonomy, and is helpful for developers as a companion to wireframes or mockups.
Below is a site map I recently created for the project. The highest level navigation options are lighter in color, while as the user navigates deeper, darker colors are used to represent those options. The coloring isn't necessarily a known best p…

This Is My Jam - a well-designed, responsive web application

This Is My Jam is a music app that lets users share one song at a time with others. If there’s a song that you absolutely love right now and want to the world to know about it (which I often do), you can select the song, post it to your page and tell the world ‘this is my jam!’. Not only is the app’s value unique but the user experience is good, specifically when it comes to choosing a new jam. 
First of all, the app is responsive, slightly changing the layout of screens according to users’ device sizes. This is important because it delivers a consistent experience from web to mobile (without having to learn or download a separate native app) while the folks at This Is My Jam only have to maintain one web experience that adapts to users’ devices (that is, they don’t have to manage a web AND native mobile experience and all it entails). 
And this isn’t just some responsive web site where the content shifts around - this is a web application, folks, and it’s not easy to do. Web applicatio…