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Experience Design

#IdeaNotebook: Musicovery’s Mood Pad

As I flipped through my idea notebook recently, Musicovery’s mood pad jumped out at me as a particularly fun and inspiring UI. Breaking with more conventional controls for web radio, the site creators realized that most people listen to music according to  their mood. They developed the mood pad to allow you to select music across two mood variables, from calm to energetic and from dark to positive. The mood pad’s grid support highly granular selection, if you just feel upbeat rather than completely energized or are only melancholy not in a dark mood.

Musicovery site showing music for selected mood

Mood pad with expanded genres listIn addition to specifying a mood, you can also refine what types of music the mood pad offers by specifying from a wide range of genres you want to listen to, the era, and whether you want to stay in familiar territory (favorites available to subscribers) or engage in music discovery. The dance radio changes the pad variables to tempo and dance.
What I love about this UI is the sense of playfulness and, as the name suggests, discovery. While some controls require a little exploration to find out all the possible customization, that is appropriate to the purpose and goals of the site.
From a professional perspective, I am fascinated by the fact that the categorizations are intensely research-driven, informed by “3 year research on music description and human acoustic perception.” The site also has a lab page where you can experience and comment on the latest idea for experiencing music of site creators Vincent Castaignet and Frédéric Vavrille. In these areas, the site is as much a social and sociological experiment as a technological exploration.
While Musicovery does not point to a definite solution to my current design challenges, it’s a site that reminds me to push boundaries on how to solve even familiar problems. I hope you enjoy the site and find inspiration in it, too.

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Karen Bachmann

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