I love SoundCloud. Discovering artists and being able to share my music with others. I’ve been using soundcloud next for a few weeks now (and have submitted feedback). However, here is a more extensive critique of soundcloud’s redesign.
First, the bad news:
1) Waveforms just doesn’t load. It’s horribly buggy and ends up looking shoddy. Examples:
2) Genre doesn’t display in the feed. I follow a lot of artists, and some create various types of music. I don’t always have time to listen to all of it, and depending on my mood, sometimes not in the mood for certain types of music.
vs old souncloud:
3) No clear distinction between genre and tags on song pages.
Genre holds the same value as tags (even in the old soundcloud). In other words, clicking on a tag sends you “tag/rock” and clicking on the genre in sends you to “tag/rock” as well. So, I understand in a certain way to deprecate “genre” to just being another tag, but as you can see above, it looks stupid. It looks like I “accidentally” added “rock” twice.
4) No more download information on songs.
To a certain extent, I understand removing download information. Plays is a good enough indicator. It will most likely always be higher than downloads. And, some artists on soundcloud hit the download limit, in which the download indicator then doesn’t add value too. However, I liked it, mainly for my own artist page. I now have to go through a click to my stats page to see how many a specific song of mine has been downloaded. Considering that the old soundcloud returned this information, I don’t see it as any technical challenge to allow users to just set a tickbox to see it. Turn it off be default.
5) Some parts of the site is unresponsive and slow.
The new notification box at the top is a bit slow sometimes. When I click, it loads the part of the box right against the toolbar. Only once the rest of the information is loaded, the rest of it shows. It’s a small amount of lag, but long enough to be annoying. It is however substantially better than previously seeing activity related to you.
I checked the network activities for the stream page and user page.
On the stream pages, your recent activities are displayed in another box. When then clicking on the notification box, it doesn’t load your activities again. Which makes sense, considering the data has already been called.
However. On the user page (where there is no recent activity box), activities are still being called. It should then be expected that when clicking the notification box that it shouldn’t send another callback for you activities (compared to behaviour on the stream page). It does however, creating pointless lag.
Any SoundCloud developer want to elaborate on this? I can understand as a design choice to send another call (for more recent activities than when the page loaded), but if the stream page doesn’t do it, why does the user page?
6) Where’s my spotlight tab?
This is probably the most worrying thing for me. I haven’t seen any feedback to suggest it is coming back. I bought a subscription specifically for this. I have a lot of songs, so I want to put my best foot forward and show what I can do. Hopefully this will return.
7) No genre or music tags on user pages.
Similar to the feed, there is no information on genre or tags on user pages whatsoever. The only way know what music a person makes when they follow you (or land on their page) is to either read their bio, or actually having to play a song. If the song is new and you don’t know what it is, you have to click through. Due to this, I haven’t followed a lot of users. Even if they want to forego displaying, how about a tag cloud underneath the picture?
8) No more mini-update box.
This is much easier to read and quickly digest than the stats page.
Now for good news (or things I like):
1) Better stream.
Much less visually noisy.
2) Recent Activity Box.
Previously I had to click through to my activity, or have my activity be lost within the main feed. I like this.
3) Better looking waveforms.
When it actually loads fine, it looks better than the previous iteration.
4) Better commenting.
By far the best improvement.
The previous version often obscured most of the waveform and tried to display most comments. It was ugly. I often just switched off the comments.
Now it displays under the waveform and doesn’t display every single comment on a popular song.
5) Larger pictures.
Visual elements add to my music experience. I like this. Probably not for everyone.
6) Better album/set listening.
It gives a nice idea/feel of where in the set you are.
As well ass better information about different songs. Compared to old version:
7) Concurrent listening.
I can now move about soundcloud while listening to a specific song (instead of it closing the song). Nice. However, I’m a bit unsure how obvious this display is. To me it wasn’t immediately obvious that it would return me to my current song I’m listening to.
Any ideas on how to improve this?
8) Reposting and changing of vocab.
A favourite is now a ‘like’ and you can now repost songs to the stream for others to listen to. I feel ‘like’ is entails a smaller investment of interest and should hopefully increase its usage on the site. In other words: I ‘like’ a lot more songs. I have fewer ‘favourites’.
All in all. Still a great experience. The biggest issues are for me: Bringing back spotlight tab (or at least tell us that it wasn’t going away anyway), less buggyness and more tag/genre information on the stream and user pages.
What do you think of the new soundcloud? A fan?
EDIT (11th August):
It seems SoundCloud has added genre information back to tracks in the stream and user pages!