When making a playlist it can often be hard for people to know where to start. Whether someone is creating a playlist for a family member, friend or even for themselves people can struggle with choosing the right music. A personal playlist should include music that brings back memories or emotions, but people may not know that a song gives them that ‘flashback feeling’ until they hear it.
Spotify can be a useful tool to track down music and build a playlist as it allows you to search and listen to millions of songs. However, it can look overwhelming and be difficult to use for some.
Playlist for Life created an automatic Playlist Maker to help people build their playlist. The Playlist Maker allows a user to input ‘Music Detective’ information, then suggests songs that are tailored to each user and may spark a reaction. Once the user has chosen the songs they want on their list the Playlist Maker will email them a link to their ready-made playlist on Spotify.
To make sure the Playlist Maker was accessible and simple enough to use we sent it out to our Music Lab network to survey. We wanted to find out how easy the playlist maker was to use, how it could be improved and if people would recommend it as a useful tool for people with dementia. We received feedback from a wide range of participants, from people with dementia and carers to digital experts working in the field of dementia.
Feedback on the playlist maker was largely positive. People liked the simplicity of the tool, the ease of finding songs, and the variety of the curated playlists available in our ‘record collection’ page. Everyone who fed back said they were able to easily find some songs they liked and thought that the playlist maker would be a useful tool to help someone living with dementia. More than one respondent said it would be an excellent ‘Music Detective’ tool to help a carer or a volunteer find music for someone they were working with.
Suggestions for improvement fell into four main areas:
Some people said the original visual design made it hard to read the text on some pages.
The process of saving a playlist to Spotify once it had been made confused some people.
Some people said they wanted the playlist maker to suggest songs to ‘surprise’ them.
The preview clips were too short or were unavailable for some songs.
“Only problem I had was that colour schemes of letters and backgrounds are difficult to read for me. I am living with young onset Alzheimer’s disease and that affects my visual awareness. Bold and contrasting colours work best for me.”
We made specific changes to improve to the experience in relation to the first three points.
We engaged a designer to improve the visual appearance of the tool and make it more visually accessible.
We improved the user experience and the instructions at the point of saving a playlist to Spotify to make it simpler and to explain what was happening. We also added some clearer instructions to the playlist maker to help people get started.
We added a controlled randomised element to the song suggester function to add some random songs from specific years within a person’s memory bump.
We were unable to add more preview clips or make them longer as that is entirely out with our control. Spotify only provides preview clips for some songs.
Test Playlist Maker
Updated Playlist Maker
Conducting surveys and getting input from the experts allows us to ensure our resources are accessible and useful for people with dementia and carers. Moving forward, all users of the Playlist Maker will be given the option to fill out a feedback form after using the it. This allows us to continue gathering feedback on this tool and further improve our resources.
The Playlist Maker is now available on our Resources page.