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Sonos Desktop App

The Sonos desktop app : usability review

I have been using Sonos for over a year now. I love the simplicity of the setup and speakers. Very few wires, inter-room connectivity and great sound. It's easy to use on your phone or tablet, but get to the desktop app and it's not so good.

It feels like the desktop app is the last part of the system they designed. Or perhaps it is one of the first parts they designed, and it got ignored.

So I conducted a usability review, and here are my findings.

Sonos usability review

Sonos usability review

1. A user first encounters the volume controls, followed by play & pause / back & next and a variety of other controls. This feels disassociated with the music and in terms of user flow does not feel like the first action a user would want to take.

2. The room selection buttons take up an entire column in the design, which seems excessive.

3. This is a static area which displays content based on user selection. It feels like a missed opportunity in terms of offering users control over music selection

4. The music selection area appears after and to the right of what is playing. This seems incongruous with how users read, and the whole process is handled in a tight space allowing for little visibility as to where the user is in the process.

5. The queue is given priority in the hierarchy above selection. It would be interesting to know if its position is based on user testing. I - perhaps incorrectly - expected selection to be of more importance than what is in the queue.

6. The positioning of this button is disassociated with the rest of the controls.

7. The positioning of the Timer and Alarm buttons sits below the music and feels like they used the last available space for these buttons. They don’t really bear relation to their positioning.

Sonos recommendations

Sonos recommendations

1. I believe the user would first want to set the room they want to play music in, or check the current room is correct for the music they are about to play. The ability to ‘pause all’ would be placed within this dropdown.

2. I have positioned search in the centre so that a user, having selected the room, can then immediately just run a search for what they want to play.

3. Queue management is positioned in the top right. I do not believe it needs the prominence it has in the current design.

4. Settings groups together audio preferences, account settings, timers and alarms thereby reducing the number of buttons utilised in the current design.

5. A more intuitive ‘cover-flow’ means of navigation enables users to quickly move through the current queue of music

6. Controls integrated to sit with the artwork for the current track

7. A breadcrumb trail so users can quickly change music source, and the associated options. In the current design this is handled in the tightly spaced right hand column (4).