Out with the new, bring back the old!
As with any design overhaul, the typical backlash abounds. People don’t like change, even if it’s better for them (::cough::metric system::cough::). But this is one case in which I agree–new sucks!
Grooveshark is like Spotify, but web-based, of questionable legality (I’ll talk about that later… in some other post), and with a hell of a lot more of the music I’m looking for. I use it pretty much constantly, and was looking forward to the new design. Yeah. About that.
The new Grooveshark UI introduces you to a wide world of social sharing and recommendations, while cleverly hiding the fact that you can pin music you want to listen to again. You know, that whole “Save to My Music” and “Add to Favorites” thing? It’s vanished from main screen, and getting to it again is far from intuitive. As you can see –>
The Home screen assaults you with a myriad of album covers, and the new design continues to prohibit you from simple acts like re-arranging your playlist order. Several pages are redundant, like Overview reiterating songs you recently listened to, which are brandished very obviously (and obnoxiously) on the Home tab.
There are separate tabs for Followers and Following, which is not only twice as many as necessary, but would probably be better off placed with the Community tab, seeing as that’s where your conversations with said Followers/Followees will be.
“My Music” is now your “Collection,” your Now Playing is now your Queue, and I haven’t the slightest what sort of “Notifications” they’re expecting you to get, but that has its own tab as well. Maybe it’s more of that social-media-malarkey wriggling through.
Speaking of useless changes, why move the sidebar to the right? Why move the play/skip buttons above the now play–I mean, “queue”? Why the redundancy in currently-playing song? Is the bright orange highlight not enough? It also seems they removed the ability to adjust the size of the “queue,” which has lead to two interesting things happening.
One, when I first tried this at work, the queue was larger, with the album cover art taking up an obscene amount of space with the title/artist scrawled in at the bottom. Now that I’m at home, the size is back to what I had with the previous design — the small cover icon with the song title and artist name garnering all the attention.
This brings me to point Two: the area with play/skip/currently-playing/etc. takes up more space on the screen than the songs in my queue. I haven’t decided if that’s stupid or not yet. I can see an argument for both sides.
One of the biggest design-related issues is how the immovable pieces — the sidebar (mysteriously on the right), the top bar, and the queue — crowd the actually useful space in even more. As if there wasn’t already too much crammed into the area, now you have to feel like you’re looking through a poorly-designed window trying to navigate through it. Oh wait, you are!
All THAT aside, my number one complaint comes down to the direction Grooveshark seemingly wishes to go, and that’s the path of social media. I listen to music to help me focus, to help me shut out other things and get work done, and Grooveshark has been immensely helpful for that. But now there is a comments section on every artist, album, song, and playlist page. Now “Community” has a permanent place on your sidebar, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Because apparently, being able to click “share” and send the song to anyone you want over any platform you want just wasn’t good enough. Because apparently, when the majority of the Internet-going human race realized you never ever EVER read the comments section on pretty much anything ever unless you want to fight the urge to KILL EVERYTHING WITH FIRE, Grooveshark somehow missed the memo.
Maybe I’m just showing my naivete here, but I honestly thought Grooveshark was about music, about being able to listen to the artists you love even if you can’t buy their music for one reason or another*. Now it seems they just want to be another Facebook, but with music instead of pictures.
I am not impressed.
*Money is the primary issue, but it’s also quite difficult to get your hands on music from lesser-known foreign bands. I know, I know, piracy an’ all that, but the idea with Grooveshark is that they pay the artist every time someone listens to their songs. Whether they do or not is a different issue entirely.