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Shazam has been a lead song discovery app since 1998 (yes…1998), but research indicates that the most common use case of Shazam lasts less than half a minute. Despite the overwhelming amount of human-centered data Shazam has collected on music taste, Shazam has done very little to leverage this information into useful features.

Through my team's extensive research to better understand users' approach and pain points with discovering music, we simplified Shazam's navigation and introduced a new feature called Super Shazam increasing Shazam's retention rate by 100%.

*This was a hypothetical academic project.

Making Music Discovery Super


UX Designer


Katrina Allick, Vicki Chen & Antonio Montemor


2 Week Sprint (December 2020)

How the
Business Works

Diving deeper into Shazam's business platform, I learned that a majority of Shazam’s revenue comes from a referral system. When a user “Shazams” a song, they are then “referred” to stream or purchase the song via major providers, such as Apple, Google, and Spotify. Shazam then receives a portion of each purchase for the referral.

With this in mind I strategized our competitive research to include other referral and streaming services such as Snapchat and Spotify.

"Streaming now accounts for 80% of U.S. recorded music revenues"

- The Future of Music in Forbes Magazine, 2020

Shazam's UI Audit

Before jumping into user interviews, we did an audit of the current app design and concluded key pain points.


What struck my eye was Shazam's use of a "swipe up" gesture to access essentially the rest of the map. As the user explores its features, they get lost in a series of infinite scrolls, taps, and "x"s.

Moving into user interviews we used this insight in a task analysis, confirming that all users got lost in layers of the app due to the lack of a central navigation system.

I learned that one gesture could completely botch a user experience.


"Shazam allows me to be curious and discover more things that I may not come across otherwise or know how to find."


"Shazam does exactly what I need it to do and not a whole bunch more... I think any more buttons would be a detriment."

I never take the time to explore Shazam's features because it's confusing and overwhelming.

I share and collect new music discoveries through my friends via social media or text.

I use Shazam to expand my music taste, but I ultimately listen to my music on another app.

Discovering music is important to me because it defines my taste.

50% of users

found mislabeled icons

confusing, specifically within Super Shazam

75% of users

found the three-screen navigation intuitive & familiar

100% of users

felt simple onboarding would appease any icon confusion

100% of users

said they would use Shazam more with the new Super Shazam feature!


Based on our user insights, we incorporated an (optional) onboarding process. When any user new or old re-opens Shazam, we strategically give them an overview of new features and encourage, but do not force them to finish the onboarding.


In designing the UI, I kept the onboarding brief (four screens) to not deter users from exploring the app. Additionally, we used copywriting to personify the app and amplify its friendly personality.

Clarity in UX Flow

I added labels to the Super Shazam icons to clarify the different ways a user can Shazam songs, either by their location, preferred genre, or mood.

I also incorporated copy into each Super Shazam setting to provide further guidance to the user on how to navigate the experience.

Overall, the goal was to minimize scrolling, taps, & decisions, creating a seamless user flow.

Understanding the Competitors

After full analysis we decided to funnel our focus into the comparison of Shazam to Spotify. While Spotify is viewed as a streaming app, it is currently the most used music collection and discovery app.

What sets Shazam apart from Spotify is its plethora of (misused) geolocation data. We saw this as a white space of opportunity to target and question moving into our user interviews.

Let's Dive In

Our process began with ideating four key questions to focus our business, market, and user research.


I focused primarily on breaking down Shazam's business strategy and structure of their UI.


What can Shazam do to increase the value of using their service to map its user’s taste in music?


How do people like to receive music recommendations? Is an algorithm or human-input more valuable?


Is geolocation data useful to users of Shazam?


What role does social networking play in sharing and enjoying music?

Introducing Super Shazam

Through rounds of sketching and design studio our team developed two ideas: a three-screen navigation & the introduction of a new music discovery feature call Super Shazam.

Breadcrumb Navigation

Single Frame UI

Gestures & Play

Simplicity & Familiarity

Magic &




UI Structure

Using Shazam's brand guidelines, I developed a UI component library and designed our mid fidelity wireframes with five key identity traits in mind.

With an energetic yellow and slingshot gesture, Super Shazam gives the user the ability to launch into music discovery by location, genre, and mood.

100% of users


said they would use Shazam more with the new Super Shazam feature!

After testing four users...

Our ideas proved to be exciting, but a little confusing.

50% of users found mislabeled icons disorienting

75% of users found the navigation intuitive & familiar

100% of users felt simple onboarding would appease confusion

Our Final Design

From the above insights, I designed an optional onboarding process to introduce the user to the new experience of the app.


We learned that with the right balance of guidance the user would be able to independently explore from there.


A Balanced Solution

From our interviews, we were able to synthesize four key insights that led to our persona, Cadence whose need is to discover music and evolve her music taste.


Overall, we found that users enjoyed the simplicity of the Shazam feature because of its gesture. This encouraged us to find a new way to excite and engage users through play.

© 2021 Katrina Allick