UX Designer, Story Teller, and Phantasmagorical Creature of the Night


Discovering and saving music with Pandora

This is a four week case study that I did with Ally Reiner on the Pandora music app.

We hypothesized that If we create an experience in which users can create playlists based on songs they like, then people will be more likely to use Pandora because users want to have control over what they listen to.

Main Raido screen.jpg

Who is Pandora?

Pandora is the fourth most downloaded music app in the app and google play store, we found that many users loved the idea of discovering new music on Pandora but did not like how the user could not save the new content they found in a playlist.


Project overview


4 weeks

Our team:

Ally Reiner

My role:

During this sprint, my partner and I went through all of the research, definition, and development together. Ally took the lead on the visual design of the wireframes.

I led the multiple rounds of usability and A/B testing as well as the Interaction Design in Origami Studio.


  • Google Sheets

  • Sketch

  • Origami Studio

  • Adobe Creative Suite


  • Competitive analysis

  • UI comparative analysis

  • User interviews

  • Journey mapping

  • Design studio

  • Wireframing

  • Prototyping

  • Usability testing

  • Interaction Design

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The problem

“I want to be able to pick a song to listen to and save it for later”

Through seven rounds of user interviews and multiple usability tests of the current version of the Pandora app, we found that users want to be able to find a song and then save that song for later. All users that we spoke to were screened to be users of a music app and also have used or currently use Pandora. Every user wanted four main things: to choose what they were listening to, to make their own playlists to keep music they love, to discover new music, and to be offered curated playlists fitting a particular vibes. Currently Pandora only offers half of these features, causing the majority of users to switch music streaming apps.


Our solution

Give users the opportunity to save the music they love to discover

In talking to our users we found that Pandora revolves around a single point that is loved by everyone we spoke to, discovering new music that is similar to what they love. The baseline problem for our users was that they could not save and return to the music they discovered. We also found that there was a navigation problem with the app, all options for navigation were tucked away in a single hamburger menu so we brought the three most important navigational items for our users and placed them in a sticky navigation bar at the base of the app.

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Research & discovery

Where Pandora stands comparatively

Through analysis of Pandora’s competition we found that the app is lacking in two main categories, the ability to playback a song that a user has enjoyed and a playlist feature, allowing users to save songs for later. Without these essential features, Pandora is losing users.

Pandora Competitive Analysis.jpg


User interviews

Talking to Users we found that they want to:

  • Be able to pick what they are going to listen to

  • Make their own playlists and save music for later

  • Discover new music

  • Offered curated playlists fitting particular vibes


Designing & testing

Pandora’s current interface

Pandora’s current UI and navigation is outdated and difficult to navigate. Many of the controls are difficult to reach, and too small to hit with your thumb. The navigation is too unique and and unfamiliar to what a user would encounter on any other app, this combined with the lack of necessary affordances makes the experience unsettling and clumsy.


Lo fidelity wireframes

We did three rounds of low fidelity wireframes, conducting testing between in round and making changes in response to the feedback that we received. We did rounds of both usability tests as well as A/B testing.

lofi screens.jpg

Key iterations

In A/B testing we inconclusively tested in this sprint where we should place the menu button, each test we did was contradictory so this requires more testing. But when testing for the display and interaction of the confirmation that the user successfully added a song to a playlist our tests overwhelmingly concluded that the automatic retraction of the confirmation was more conducive to users needs.


Updating an outdated UI

Pandora’s current UI is dark and lacks important affordances. We lightened the general mood of the screens, making sure all the vital functions are inside the users comfortable thumb range. In addition, we tested so that all affordances were clear and design patterns are familiar enough to be easily understood by the user.


Add a newly discovered song to a playlist

Through our user interviews and usability tests, we found that users wanted to save songs that they had discovered on Pandora’s radio feature. We wanted to keep the flow for adding to this process simple but also intuitive so through A/B testing we found out what users mental models were like in regards to adding a song to a playlist. The flow displayed below is the most concise version of adding a song to a playlist flow that matches users mental models.

add to playlist flow copy.jpg

Accessing your playlists

The second most desired flow behind discovering new music for our users were to access the music they had saved in the form of playlists at a later date. We conducted A/B testing for this flow as well to ensure that this flow matched users mental models.


Intuitive interactions

Interactions displayed and recorded in Origami Studio