Volumio UX Research Project

Hi all,

I am starting a UX research project for volumio and would like your cooperation.

The intention of this project is too evaluate the behaviour, needs and goals of the community and analyse this data, coupled with further sources in order to create, review with the community and iterate in order to achieve a better User Experience for volumio.

For now I would like to have a better understanding of the users needs and worflows, meaning what they want to do in the app and how they go about doing it.

Given the nature of volumio it is also very important to have a good grasp of the hardware involved in each of these phases.

What is your current setup (pi1-3, udoo, single/multiple devices, fully hardware device with buttons, touchscreen control, remote webui or mobile, etc)
What are your needs for music discovery (how big is your library, how do you search, do you use/build playlists, do you use streaming/other services, etc),
What are your needs for music Playback (what are you doing while listening, what info is important to see, etc.)
How do you maintain and share your music (how do you manage your library, how many do you have, how do you share it, …).

For last, I would also like to suggest features you would like to see and especially those you frequently use on other players/platforms, considerations you deem important or specific worries you might have.
If you have concrete examples and links those are useful too.

Please try to give in depth replies in a consolidated and structrued way, these can be either textual, diagrammatic or any other support as long as they help further the goal.

I leave you with this wonderful task flow analysis to give you a general idea on how the flow might be structured to help understand the users needs
Music_Listening.jpg

NEXT STEPS:
Based on this user data and other research sources and insights I will be building user personnas, user stories and develop wireframes to answer these specific user needs.

Thank you all in advance and I hope I can rally the power of the community in gathering data for this project and to help evolving volumio to the best it can become.

What is your current setup (pi1-3, udoo, single/multiple devices, fully hardware device with buttons, touchscreen control, remote webui or mobile, etc)

Rpi1, PCM2704 USB DAC (with audio jack, spdif, digital out).
iphone & ipad with bookmarked volumio.local so I have to use native safari browser.

What are your needs for music discovery (how do you search, do you use/build playlists, do you use streaming/other services, etc),
I use spotify & last.fm.
I use music discovery as much as I can. Discover Weekly by spotify always generates excellent playlists.
I also use Squeezebox / Logitech Media Server and it has a great plugin that logs into my last.fm account and generates smart playlists from my library based on my last.fm profile and similar artists listed there.

What are your needs for music Playback (what are you doing while listening, what info is important to see, etc.)
I either listen to a full album or a playlist (local or spotify)
I like to be able to easily/quickly add a song or a full album to a playlist
It’s nice to be able to see your history (songs that have just played) as well as upcoming songs
I like to be able to select a song to play next, but not affect the rest of the existing playlist
I like to be able to see more from the now playing artist - artist, albums, genre
I like to be able to star a song for my favourites playlist
When I add a new album to my library I want to be able to access it quickly - I would like to be able to see the last 10-50 albums added to the library.
I’ve used LMS/Squeezebox extensively and my most used features are:
Favourites - I can star a song, an album, a radio station and all will be saved in my Favs for quick access
The New Music link (latest additions) - see above
Random Mix - Shuffle my entire library - Quick & easy, no need to manually set up a big playlist
When I search for something, I will get a list of results from Artists, Albums, Playlists, Genres etc. and I can filter into any category (spotify too)
Lots of plugins: Last.fm, icecast, spotify, tunein, youtube, podcasts.

How do you maintain and share your music (how do you manage your library, how many do you have, how do you share it, …).
I keep my main library on a NAS which I connect to via nfs
I have ~1TB of music stored in folders based on genres (Jazz | Funk-Soul | Rock-Classic | Rock-Indie-Post | Rock-Hard-Metal )
It’s nice to be able to search a library database of all meta data, but also to be able to browse directories explorer style.

I’ll edit this if more come to me. Good luck with the project. I’m a front-end developer and would like to get involved. I have more experience with ember than angular. More interested in the UI side of things anyway.

Thanks for the feedback @shano.

Nice to know you would like to contribute, I myself just recently started on this, and am still getting my bearings on how to best help the project.

At the same time I am reviewing the css, starting on some improvements, and considering what could benefit from being phased out or refactored.

The UX part of this comes in parallel as a rethinking of the interface and functionality for the user supported by a structured and documented ux research project.

I am also building my own insights about what could benefit the user and depending on the community engagement I will be building my UX hypothesis based on available data.

The main concepts I am juggling are of simplicity + customization, as there is a very diverse user-base who is probably mostly technically inclined - what I call tinkerers.
With this in mind the goal in so far is to have a simple yet deeply customizeable experience. Some the ideas so far are :
Fully editable library views - instead of just location, artist, playlist, album etc, you can build and save any number of views you want (preset recipes for general use would also be present).
Plugin views (similar to kodi) where you can have a wide range of ways to browse your content, from simple lists, album art, detailed album art, etc. You could then easily change and use the ones most suitable for your taste or use-case.

These are all my very initial visceral feelings and I will keep working on it.
I still need to think of the best way to constantly share and share/review/iterate constantly with the overall community.

The following answer is mainly how i listen music using Volumio, and what i’d like to be added for my usage.

What is your current setup (pi1-3, udoo, single/multiple devices, fully hardware device with buttons, touchscreen control, remote webui or mobile, etc)
PI2+DurioSound Pro, Ethernet wired
Windows Phone (webUI) / Laptop (SSH or chrome)
Music Library is on a NAS (home made Synology)

What are your needs for music discovery (how do you search, do you use/build playlists, do you use streaming/other services, etc)
Exclusively listening my library (no web radio nor streaming services) by Albums
Or by dynamically generated playlist:
I’ve added Rating and Comments tags on most of my files (work in progress), and i’ve made a python script to dynamically randomly feed the playlist based on parameters i choose : which folder(s), genre, rating, comment to pick in (cumulative parameters).
I’ve added mpd-hit to Volumio to check if a song has been played for the last X days to prevent it to be added (X is parameter) if necessary
For Example i can tell volumio something like this : “Play and make a playlist of 10 songs that are not in the folders “Classical” nor “Jazz”, rated at least 3 stars, that not have been played for the last 30 days, adding song(s) every time the playlist length is inferior to 10 (with consume mode), untill i stop you
For this, i’m using ReplayGain Track and Crossfade Modes
For now, i’m using CLI via SSH to launch my script, but searching a way to integrate it in the webUI

If i search something specific to listen, i’m using Foobar on my laptop to filter and search, and launch it after on Volumio. I like to quickly launch a full album, replacing any previous playlist, and want it to play in tracknumber order. Eventually i like to add another album(s) in the queue
For this, i’m NOT using ReplayGain Track and Crossfade Modes

What are your needs for music Playback (what are you doing while listening, what info is important to see, etc.)

  • Song infos (Title, Artist, Album, Cover), in addition i’d like to see the Tracknumber if available, my Ratings and Comment tags would be a plus
  • File infos (Format, bitrate, samplerate)
    As for the Volumio webUI, i’ve hidden the Volume control part as my Dac have not hardware volume control, so it was useless for me and i prefer to use the space to display Song infos and Cover larger
    I’d like to have buttons to activate/desactivate ReplayGain and Crossfade Modes

How do you maintain and share your music (how do you manage your library, how many do you have, how do you share it, …)
I have all my library (14K songs) on a NAS, using CIFS so i can access it from any device i want (computer, laptop, PI, etc…)
I’ve 5 top folders: “Classical”, “Jazz”, “French”, “Mp3”, “Flac”, with genres folders in each of them
I’m using Foobar to edit tags, generate replayGain or convert files

I’d like to have a way to directly rate an song in Volumio webUI, to add/modify the file tag.
I’d also like to have views based on tags to navigate on my library, as i do in Foobar (filters Genres->Artists->Albums) so i didn’t have to use my laptop to search something

Hope this help

Alfatreze, excellent job!!!
I already got thousands ideas just reading those follow ups…
Sticking this thread…

Thanx for the sticky @michaelangelo. You should ansewr too though :smiley:.

The replies are awesome, albeit not high in number.

I might make a proper online survey for it. Would you be able to PM it in the forums if I build one? I assume the number of participants would grow significantly and would give a better insight to build upon.

Maybe add to the credits in volumio a research volunteers section for those who participate. Would be a nice gesture :ugeek:

Hi there,
this sounds like an awesome idea!

is there any progress on the online survey or should we keep answering with posts?

What if we structure this in a Google questionnaire?

sounds awesome i think!
i am willing to help out if the OP needs a hand

Hi guys, sorry foe the long silence, work has kept me under for a while.

I just got back from vacation so once I get my stuff in order I’ll get to it, either this weekend or during next week.

Whoever wants to help can start breaking down questions and putting it up in a google sheets doc. You can base it in my initial post and add any you think is helpful.-

We can then review the final lineup before putting up the survey.

It might be good to spread the survey to other sources too, anyone has ideas on this, we would get more feedback this way.

Late to the party… . might be worth that Google questionnaire thing, I created a forum login especially to write this comment.

What I’m currently doing and what I’d like to do are two different things… but not too different

Current set up, is in my office only - a RPi 2 model B, connected via wired ethernet, with a 1TB portable USB hard drive plugged in and containing the music collection: the SD Card is for the os/app only. It’s connected via the Pi’s headphone jack to an old home theatre system ( I have 5.1 sound in my garden shed ).
I used to have an RPi 1 Model B and Volumio 1.x doing the same job, this got retired due to sound quality issues .
There are about 3000 mp3 and ogg files in the music collection totalling 25GB. This is on the small side, I have a cabinet of over 500 CDs that it would nice to rip sometime. Occasionally I add new music to it by copying with SCP up to the hard drive directly.
I have an increasing number of full concerts and podcasts. It’s not uncommon for me to listen to a some downloaded from Youtube or the likes.

I used to listen to internet radio stations as well, but stopped when I upgraded from the Pi to the Pi 2. More on that later…
I pretty much exclusively use the desktop computer to control Volumio via the web interface (packages.ubuntu.com/yakkety/cantata) to control it, but apart from seeing it connects I haven’t actually used that with Volumio 2.

I tend not to use playlists. When the current bracket of tracks runs out, or a radio station starts playing something I don’t like, I add something new to listen to.

Future set up
What I want to do, eventually, is have all the music stored on a single NAS, and then accessible from multiple Pi’s around the house. This is entirely possible with Volumio now (at least, I presume). I just don’t have the NAS. Also the first place to get set up might have a TV, with the Pi needing to streaming video of the hard disk recorder, maybe Youtube. Not a job Volumio is meant for at all (so Kodi perhaps).

The only thing that might be a problem is that in the house I’d want a phone app (which could be a web app) to control multiple pis. The MPD remote app I used once was able to do this, but I’ve seen too many apps like it that can’t or the UX is terrible to switch (go into settings etc).

I don’t know about a remote - given there is no IR receiver built in to the RPi, I’m not likely to want one. Half the household seems to have phones in hand 24/7, and I’d rather proliferate cheap android tablets tied to the wall that have multiple uses (eg web browsing) than spend money on music player hardware. It might control the pi, but it couldn’t switch the external amplifier on or off.

Volumio features where the UX isn’t the best
Looking only at the web interface here.

Upload new music: If I copy a file up via SCP or FTP, then if I want to listen to newly added music immediately, I have to wait or force a rescan . This is very slow - minutes, and I consider the music collection to currently be small. Having a web upload, that only merges the new files into the index without having to rescan would be brilliant.

Adding radio stations: I don’t care about the list of radio stations that “ship with” volumio. I want to add my own., Some examples:
positivelybaroque.com/, All of these I had playing through Volumio 1.x but to get them to work I had to edit a text files, not sure which one of these two is the one that made it work:

/var/lib/mpd/playlists/Delicious Agony.m3u

/var/lib/mpd/music/WEBRADIO/Delicious Agony.pls

I realise there is quite a bit of variation in how radio stations work, but most apps just ask for URL to be entered.

So having a user interface to add radio stations would mean I could get these back. I’d like them to appear on the front page of “Browse” somehow. Under “Web Radio” > My Web Radios is ok, but is about 4 clicks. This might be why the two files above - maybe I created a playlist to get it more accessible.

Youtube. This is a bit of a fancy one, but I had a Firefox extension called “Play to Kodi” which let me view a page on youtube.com and then send it to the Kodi box which played it on the TV. Would be kind of nice to have something that lets me play a Youtube clip (the sound only, obviously).

The front page of Browse is pretty wasteful of space - with web browser to my full-screen 1920 x1080, the list of options on the left is less than 10%. Having a set of panels with some more info would be cool. That said, I would also like to make the Volumio web page its own app (using Chrome browser’s “add to desktop” feature) wihich would be a smaller window. I find there are a few shortcomings there too, eg having it merge with Chrome as one item on my taskbar is pretty annoying (not Volumio’s fault although it might be able to hint better to Chrome what to do).

Another late suggestion. Hope this helps.

In my view present players (the software parts) are flawed because they all adhere to the basic, text driven, mp3tag/vorbis tagging structure. If you want to create a playlist you’re limited to the Album/Artist/Genre etc. approach. If you’re lucky you might be able to use regular expressions for searching or add some personal tags but that’s about it.

At the same time we all are completely used to the graphical user interface offered on tablet and smartphone systems, where we can select app icons from an app screen with hundreds of items and drag them to personal category screens to make app selection easier. We can remove them later on but they stay in the app ‘library’ until you deinstall them.

I want to do exactly the same with audio files. Imagine having 1000 albums with 20,000 songs and having to go through these with a text browser (alphabetically) to find this single song. I usually know the composer and (part of) the name of the piece, but I typically forget or mix up the names of the performing artist, the orchestra, and conductor. What I do often know is that it was the “CD with the impressionist painting” on the cover, but that does not offer much help if you get hundreds of hits for a basic query.

Every time I want to create a playlist I have to suffer though this again. I still can find the original CD based on color of the box and location in my CD cabinet with a few seconds.
Why not spend a little extra time to organize your audio library the way YOU want it rather than using the basic tags?

I’ll try to describe what I am envisioning. Please comment if I did not make it sufficiently clear.

Library organization can be done e.g. using pins as done by Pinterest or drag/drop into a series of categories (boards) each representing a part of the audio collection the way the user likes it. Identical to apps management on smartphone/tablet.
Creative users can design category screens with subsets of the library to fit their personal preferences (or for DJs to prepare for a concert). Selecting from e.g. 1000 albums is much easier if you have created your own dozen screens with each up to 30 or 40 albums ranked left-right in order of preference, the ability to group albums within one screen icon, and hide tracks on each album.

Investing a couple of hours to organize your favorite music saves multiple hours of text searching in the future when you want to create new playlists on a daily basis. Using the indexed library as basis, with graphical tools on top, allows anyone to represent their music library the way they want it. It even will allow you to create a graphical version of your old CD cabinet if that’s what you prefer. This is similar to what is standard for organizing e-book shelves and photo albums.

A Playlist bar on each screen (identical to the taskbars on Win/iOS/Droid systems) allows you to drag/drop items from that, or other screens, to create the playlist(s). The graphical approach is far more intuitive that the stone-age text approach (I don’t think anyone still selects apps on their computers/tablets by typing in the program name on a search screen, so why continuing this old tradition for media files).
Of course, it should be possible to (re)organize playlists the same way as organizing the category screens (move up/down / insert / delete etc.)

Looking at the flow chart at the first post of this thread I believe this should be done with a graphical UI in mind, in line with defacto standards for drag/drop/swipe as we all use since iPhone was released ten years ago.

After some weeks of study I also concluded that the front end and back-end parts of audio players need to be highly flexible to adapt to changing hardware environments: The back-end module should connect to multiple (audio/media) storage systems (from NAS to USB to Cloud) and the front end needs to offer flexibility to connect to multiple DACs (via LAN/wifi/i2s etc.).
Front end, back-end, library and player/streamer modules should be server based and should run on a small but dedicated fan-less system. I’ve tried versions that are integrated with PCs and NAS but these do not offer the stable and future proof solution that one expects from an audio player.
Remote control should be browser-based to mininize the dependencies on iOS/Android software on smartphones and tablets. I’ve experienced various cases where useful implementations got disrupted because of incompatible OS upgrades on the tablet/smartphone.

Volumio appears to have it all: A nice and cost-effective hardware Pi solution with some excellent DAC options, a stable Linux OS, and browser based control functions. If only the UI would be more adaptable…
Given the fact that such flexible UI is not yet around I am considering to build a prototype myself. Should be no more than a few weeks of work using SQL and graphics tools.
Does Volumio offer the ‘hooks’ to include such capability? I prefer to focus only on the graphics part and don’t want to get involved in adding access and player modules.

I read your idea carefully, and the more I think of what you wrote, the more I like it.
I am thinking on a Trello basis categorization scheme, with categories, pins, mentions etc.
I would really love to implement this organization you describe.

If you can prepare some functional mockups (invision will work) and some working mechanism, we’ll be happy to do the backend and frontend part. What do you think?

Brilliant idea!
You don’t even want to know the pushback I’ve received on other audio forums for suggesting a new approach.
Give me a few days to create these mock-up screens.

In the past years I’ve looked several times at digitizing my CD collection but let it go because of storage and coding problems. In past weeks I’ve digitized 500 CDs to Flac and spent even more time to correct the tagging and album images. Altogether it is about 350G so fits on a few 128G sticks.
I’ve looked at many players; Picard, Musicbee, Plex, Roon, JRiver, MusicChi and many more. None of them do what I want. Only realistic option would be Kodi, but I prefer an audio-only approach.

I’ve written the following analogy as a more comical version of my challenge:
You’re away from home and walk into a supermarket to buy these great tasting little sweet green-red apples. You forgot their name and where they came from but they are very easy to find in the fruit department.
To your surprise they stop you at the entrance and tell you that they now have a modern shopping experience where you no longer need to go into the store but can order everything on-line with your smartphone. So you type “apples”, which results in a list of dozens of different apple types as well as iPhone cables and plugs that is impossible to browse through. If you type “red” you get an even longer list including tomatoes and peppers. They want to you type in the country of origin, so you take a guess and type “Chili” and get a list of 250 products that makes it even worse.
You leave the supermarket and try the one next door.
Here, they have an advanced shopping experience, allowing you to browse for several characteristics in one search line. How cool!
So you type “apple, green, red, swet” and get a “no response” because you forgot an “e” in the last word, but the system is very smart and suggests several anti-transpiration solutions. You try again and the system tells you you need to decide between “red” or “green” and locks up. The supermarket manager looks at your phone and tells you that they do not yet have a 100% fool-proof solution for your recently upgraded phone operating system, but they’ll probably have that next year. He suggest you to give it another try. You’re getting hungry.
After rebooting the user app and finding the proper wifi network again you try “greenish-red” but that does not give a response either. The supermarket manager tells you that your best chance may be “red-greenish”, but only in the new beta software version that has not indexed his store yet so you need to wait max 15-20 minutes.
You give up and walk around the corner where you immediately see you favorite apple on the fruit stall in front of a small store.

Cheers!

Interesting ideas Pazzoppe, I very much agree that the way we search and find stuff is a an extremely important part of the music experience. I hope that these proposals come to something concrete.

Here we go, Michelangelo,

A first draft for a possible UI: http://odipoes.com/library/

I’m eager to hear your views!
Cheers

Hi Pazzoppe,
I read your posts and it’s a nice approach to browse into your music. However in your draft some terms are perturbing for me because every folder you have on a category screen is a playlist (it’s a list of links to your songs) and your playlist icon is more related to the queue of songs to play.
My own approach to the music consumption is quite similar, except I’m more interested on physical interface (screens are overrated!). Basically the design I’m working on is to have a button for each of my “folders” (i.e. playlists) so I can easily browse and play my songs.
I’ll keep an eye on your project, good luck!

Setup:

  • Volumio 2.201 on Raspberry Pi 3
  • Controlled from smartphone.
  • Used by two people in the household
  • 500+ albums

Multiuser support is probably my biggest music browsing related issue. Some examples:

[list=]
[]I can’t group albums into two collections (as with Plex), one with my wife’s albums and one with mine. Some albums are owned by both (before we got married).
[
]Dito with playlists
[*]User specific music rating system, which would allow users to browse their own favorites
[/list]

What is your current setup (pi1-3, udoo, single/multiple devices, fully hardware device with buttons, touchscreen control, remote webui or mobile, etc)

(Current) RPI3 USB -> LG HiFi+ -> Powered speakers
(In 1 month time) RPI3 IS2 -> 502DAC pro -> iFi iOne -> Powered speakers

I also use the Android app.

What are your needs for music discovery (how do you search, do you use/build playlists, do you use streaming/other services, etc),
No streaming
No Playlists
I just store my albums in Artists / Album names
I browse an album and browse to the next one once the album finishes.

What are your needs for music Playback (what are you doing while listening, what info is important to see, etc.)
I really want to have a mixer and tbf how Volumio displays the artist/album/songs info sucks (the info presented is sufficient though). I hope to have built in editor because I can’t fix the
problem with mp3tag because I dont know how Volumio gets the info.

How do you maintain and share your music (how do you manage your library, how many do you have, how do you share it, …).
I just add a new album under the artist folder.
No I dont share music.

Suggested features:

  1. Mixer
  2. Manual tag editor
  3. A wake on device function. I can sleep or shutdown the RPi3 from within Volumio but I can’t wake it up. I have to unplug the power cord and replug it in

Hi Folks,

Apologies if this isn’t the right place and/or if this was suggested previously.
After having used the app on my phone for the past several week, I generally am happy, but the thing that bugs me most is the search box…
It’s too tiny really…
It’s hard to tap into it with by (big?) fingers, especially when you want to modify the search.

In my ignorance I would guess it’s a simple fix.

Hope it helps and keep up the good work! :slight_smile:

Regards,
Oscar