Greg: “In fact, when Hype Machine relaunched with their current vc-funded site lo these many moons ago (fall ‘07)”
Taylor: We’ve never taken any funding, VC, angel or otherwise. It began out of Anthony’s dorm room and I joined him once the site was making enough to pay the bills.
Greg: “they had greatly de-emphasized the ability to listen to the music on their own site to the point of making it quite difficult”
Taylor: As the designer of the new layout I can tell you that this is not true (or at the very least if you think so, then I’ve failed miserably). We redesigned the layout to be more usable and understandable by new visitors. Our challenge (that still continues today) is to get new visitors who end up on our site via Google etc to understand what Hype Machine is about, why it’s unique and not just some MP3 search engine.
Greg: “and were focusing solely on the ability to read snippets of blog posts”
Taylor: I added the blog snippets to further promote our “music with context” goal. The beauty of The Hype Machine is that every song that ends up within our system is there because somebody LOVED it so much they posted it and wrote about it on their blog. We didn’t feel that the original version showcased that there was a blog entry (and music lover) behind each and every song, so we added the snippets.
Greg: “with listening left to clicking through to the original page. There was such an incredible outcry from their users that, to their credit, they rapidly retreated, restoring much of the listen-on-site functionality that had been the core of the previous Hype Machine”
Taylor: This is simply not true. We’ve never taken out the ability to listen to the music from within The Hype Machine. We removed the pop-up player (that used http://musicplayer.sourceforge.net/ ) because we really didn’t think it was needed after we added in-page playing (we strive for simplicity). The community outcries were because we underestimated how many people wanted to pop-up the player (instead of just listening to it in-page like we usually do). So we ended up designing a version that fit better with our new layout and launched it (which you can see near the top of the left column on the home page http://hypem.com ).
Lucas: Greg, man, I hope you don’t feel like you’re being called out for a flamewar. This wouldn’t be a fascinating conversation if we weren’t down in the details. The issue of a pop-up player vs an in-page player created a lot of emotion in the goose/YMP project too. For some reason it gets people on either side stirred up. For myself I’m a believer in in-page, because I don’t want the audio without the page to create context.
5 thoughts on “hypem designer on hypem redesign”
Lucas and Taylor: I totally respect the differences of opinion here. As someone who’s built web apps, I definitely know how frustrating it can be to feel like the design goals you’re aiming at aren’t getting through. And I’ll definitely cop to being a sloppy user whose experience may not reflect everything that was possible on the site (i.e. the point about removing the ability to listen to music on site; I believe you that it wasn’t gone, it was just below my threshold of notice as a user). And, in a similar spirit, I apologize if I got facts wrong in my comment like the VC thing. That was very strongly my impression at the time that Anthony had taken some investment, though I can’t now figure out where, specifically, I formed that impression.
That said, part of why the VC idea stuck for me was because it fit with how the hypem relaunch felt. As a user, it felt like the site was pushing the actual getting and listening to music into the background. Being an avid reader of blogs, I’m with you on caring about the conversation. And being someone who’s made web apps on the internet, I deeply understand the legal pressures around not being seen to distribute the music. However, for most people the core of what they want from a music experience is to listen to the music. I know people who are avid music fans, but not as web-savvy who stopped using hype machine at the time of the redesign because their main use was to get and listen to tracks. These were people to whom I’d evangelized the site in the first place. The relaunch felt like a smart move towards the side of safety and away from user joy into the Dead Man’s Gulch that Lucas has been so accurately outlining lately.
The reason why the above is two separate comments is that there’s a WordPress bug when putting those two blocks of text into a single comment. Weird.
We’ve had a chance to seriously refine the user experience since that relaunch, and the significant increase in audience size, engagement and other numbers supports this.
We’ve also been studying the aptly named “Dead Man’s Gulch” too and don’t find that direction very appealing, so thinking outside the box ;)
I’m a big fan of the service! I think part of the reason why people are confused is because there’s so much information on the site. It’s great that the service is summarized and is the first piece of information under the nav bar, but I think this piece needs to be separated out so that it’s obvious to the user. Have you guys thought about playing with cookies and creating a separate flows for new users and existing users?