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Small but Mighty: We've Rolled out Changes to the Now Playing Bar

November 2021

Article

Siri Johansson
Jordi Parra
Dariusz Dziuk
Brendon Manwaring
Spotify Design Team

We recently rolled out changes to the ‘now playing bar’ (NPB) and the ‘tab bar’ in the app. And while these updates might be on the subtle side, don’t be fooled into thinking these are just small tweaks. We’ve been finessing this valuable bit of product real estate to make room for some bigger changes (more on that later) all championed by a team of designers with a vision for a better app experience.

Designers have good instincts. They know when to take big risks that pay off, and when to make a strong argument for prioritizing design- and experience-driven work over metrics-based feature improvements.

In the case of the recent changes to the NPB, the design teams who work on the app could see that by updating the UI, not only could they improve the experience, they could make space for some of the bigger changes that other teams wanted to ship further down the line, such as improving machine learning capabilities — an observation that helped get stakeholder buy-in. 

Making Room for Change

At Spotify, there are many teams contributing to the consumer mobile experience and, for quite some time, these different groups all found they were facing the same blockers when it came to the NPB and the navigation. As static features, they took up a lot of room in the app. It also wasn’t clear to all listeners that when you tapped the NPB, it would lead to a more immersive ‘now playing view’, where you can dive deeper into the art, lyrics, and story behind the music. 

While the problems were apparent to a lot of people, getting fixes for them on a roadmap was difficult — they needed to prove that these visual updates would primarily lead to more flexibility and unlock experimentation while also putting content first and allowing creators’ work to shine.

In the end, by pushing for a cleaner UI for the NPB and navigation, designers crafted a more elegant space that enabled others at Spotify to build more without adding more.

What’s new?

So how did the team behind the new NPB free up space? Here are the small but mighty changes you may have noticed in the app. 

Adding transparency 

With the new transparent tab bar and floating NPB, there’s more opportunity for listeners to scroll, explore, discover content they can enjoy. 

Aligning home, search, and Your Library Headers

Aligning the text style of the header sections across tabs and creating a consistent placement for tab specific actions.

What comes next?

While this first phase is primarily cosmetic, it sets us up for bigger changes that will roll out soon, while making the product feel more lightweight. So, in the near future, you can expect to experience all the benefits of greater functionality but with much less clutter. 

Credits

Siri Johansson

Associate Principal Product Designer

Siri focuses on uncovering opportunities and leading early-stage ideation for the mobile experience. She likes choirs, thermos coffee, to make and to mend.

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Jordi Parra

Associate Principal Designer

Jordi is a Designer passionate about systems that work on the mobile app. He’s a dad who enjoys running, synthesizers, and photography.

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Dariusz Dziuk

Principal Product Manager

Dariusz works as a Principal Product Manager on the Spotify Mobile app. He’s originally from Poland but lives in Stockholm now. He enjoys business and UX strategy, running, and photography.

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Brendon Manwaring

Associate Principal Product Designer

Brendon aspires to build digital products that are elegant, understandable, and genuinely useful to others. He grew up on a musical diet of Bach, Wu-Tang, and The Smashing Pumpkins.

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Spotify Design Team

We're a cross-disciplinary team of people who love to create great experiences and make meaningful connections between listeners and creators.

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