Local Music Discovery
Timbre – the free, location-based concert finding app – was one of the first passion projects that I ever worked on. It turned out to gain a very loyal fanbase and become a featured app on the App Store, culminating in an acquisition by Seatwave, a ticket-selling company in London.
Here, I've included some of the various iterations of Timbre that I worked on. First was an update that was a wild ride of integrating maps, color, new poster pages, streaming via iTunes and Spotify, and a slick new parallax scrolling interface.
One of the coolest things about working on Timbre was having absolute freedom to experiment with visual design. I spent a lot of time with our CTO, prototyping different ways to interpret Timbre's main view: a list of concerts with band names, venues, and dates.
This first animation was probably the most visually appealing version, using a table view with slanted cells. Each of the cells represents a concert, with album art from the band as the background image. The parallax effect combined with the slant had an awesome visual effect, especially with dark borders between the cells.
Unfortunately, many bands, (particularly the local "indie" variety that we sought to promote with Timbre) either did not have album art, or had very low-resolution images, making the parallax view unsustainable around the world. We decided to use this design for special curated lists of artists. Then, for the general case, we explored a new direction that was not so reliant on a band's own visual assets.
This second version is an interactive scrolling animation. The animation invokes a "graphic equalizer" feel, and we carried that through to the selection animation (shown at the end), a quick expand-fade-collapse of the cells that rewards the user for completing a vital action.
Through user testing, we discovered that the randomized indent for the cells help the eye differentiate between rows better than when cells were simply left aligned.
"Timbre may be the classiest iOS app I've ever used."
"...the most beautifully designed of all the concert apps."
- NPR Music
In April of 2014, Timbre was acquired by Seatwave, a large ticketing company based in London (now owned by Ticketmaster). I spent a week in London with Matt, making many prototypes of the core functionality of a "remixed" version of the app, with a focus on how we could re-energize the concert listing view. We worked alongside Seatwave's marketing team, a product manager, and a developer.
I ended up on a design that was based off of my stage-lighting background, with days of the week each represented by an overlay color. As the user scrolled, the concert background would change color and photograph as a new day's listings appeared. We felt that the core functionality of scrolling through an infinite list of concert names could quickly become tedious, but the smooth, wave-like motions of the cells coupled with the colorful overlays would make our listing stand out and be interesting to the user.
There were many other exciting challenges during the acquisition. First of all, working for a week in a different country was an amazing experience. Working with remote developers for several months was also something that I'd never done before, but with good time management and communication we were able to get Timbre (by Seatwave) into the UK App Store on time, with the complete feature list that had been discussed and promised.
More info on the Timbre acquisition can be found at Techcrunch.