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I'm the dev of a web-based music player called TheParade.

I listen to music on youtube often, and wanted a better experience, so I created the app, which I've been incrementally coding up over the past year in my free time.

So far, the site has been well received and people are liking the straight forward interface (as opposed to bloated big apps with tons of album artwork etc). Ever since grooveshark shutdown, usage has increased even further. That being said, the site, while functional, leaves a LOT to be desired in terms of a better UI/UX. I'm not the best coder, and I'm even less of a designer.

This is a free site, and I don't have a budget to hire good UI/UX help. I could try to improve the UI/UX myself, but it would take me years to reach a standard that I'd feel is good enough. In addition, there is also a backlog of at least 30 coding tasks I still need to complete.

Given my circumstances, any ideas what options I have for improving the UI/UX of the site are?

I was toying with the idea of partnering up with a UI/UX person and we could co-work on the site, but I don't know if this is feasible/

Thanks!

  • Oops... Sorry about that. Thanks for letting me know. – sprockett May 26 '15 at 17:00
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    no no no this is definitely on topic, it's a question that applies to lots of people, and if we can't help someone who is providing a great service for free and wants it to be well designed too, what are we here for?!? This is a great question, I've edited it slightly to make it tighter, but we want more questions like this. – user568458 May 26 '15 at 17:09
  • sprockett, have you considered open sourcing your site? If so it'd be a more appealing project to support (more clearly "worthy cause" and not exploitative) for designers, UI people and others interested in doing pro bono work to build their portfolios, and you might get pro code support too. – user568458 May 26 '15 at 17:16
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On your home page put a big ad:

Do you really like this web site? Want to help make it better? I'm looking for a UI/UX designer to collaborate with to make this project better. I wish I could pay but it's a labor of love for me, so hoping it is for you.

2

You have a couple options:

  • Take design cues from other apps. This does not mean to take other UI/UX designs verbatim, but see what general layouts and interfaces work best. You may just find your own inspiration.

  • Get your hands on a graphic design program such as Adobe Illustrator or similar competitiors, and use free YouTube videos, online guides, or resources on this site (see comments) to teach yourself enough to get the result you want.

2

Try to understand the workflow of how your users are using your application now and also know the goals of how you want them to use your application. The tracking of where a user goes when using an application is called user flow. Once you understand what you need, then you can think about how to do so. The what must come first in order for the how to be any good.

Talk to people (not just your users) about their experience with music players. Which ones they use, what they like about it, what they dislike about it, what they wish it had but doesn't have, and more questions similar to that. This is called a user interview and here's a great video on how to conduct one.

Then you ask this person who is new to your application to use it with you watching. Don't tell them anything about it before hand and watch what they do. You may want to record this so you can look back on it later. Notice where they hesitate, where they mess up, and where everything runs smoothly for them. Afterwards, ask them about their experience including if they were looking for something they couldn't find, where they expected to find it, if each button did what they thought it would, etc.

Do this over and over again. You'll quickly find what users are needing in, what parts of your application are confusing, common actions that they do, and what often times get good feedback on the sorts of things you should be working towards. That does not mean that you implement everything (or even most things) that users request. That means you use the information you've gathered to develop what they need and put that in your application.

Additionally, users have patterns that they are used to. Look at how other players do things and consider building your application similarly. This prevents the users from being required to learn a whole new scheme and they can user your application quickly after starting to use it. Also read about the way users look at pages and how to visually lead people to items on your page.

Besides that, the open source community is generally pretty nice. Post a message saying what you're needing and see if anyone gets back to you. As for particular elements of the design, if you follow our guidelines for critiques you can ask specific questions about aspects of your design. We'll help where we can if you ask a good, on topic question, UX.StackExchange also answers questions regarding this sort of thing.

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Take a look at the following link: http://ux.meetup.com/ You can filter the groups according to location. I recently found a group that was offering free UX critiques & advice for companies/startups. Hopefully you'll find something similar.

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