Clockbeats is a community that provides services aimed at accelerating the career of all types of musicians, from individual artists to large music production studios.
It started out in 2015 as a website for purchasing and selling exclusive music productions and ideas, evolving to an entire platform for musicians: a digital workspace to produce music online without the need to use multiple services such as Dropbox and Soundcloud.
We started out working on the logo and brand identity. I loved the concept of time represented by the hourglass, ideas as a diamond and sand as sound waves. This project made me grow not only as a designer, but as a developer and a digital creator in general.
This was my first time coming from a traditional LAMP tech stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) to a MERN solution (MongoDB, Express, React, Node). Even without Angular it was still MEAN to me, to say the least (dev joke, sorry). For the first time in a while I had to start learning from the basics, getting headaches trying to understand React, state management and build the user interface in a very different way than the one I was used to.
A component based approach allowed me to design modules in a more focused way, encapsulating both styles and logic. From simple avatars to full fledged audio and video players, I got to experiment and work on a broad variety of UI components, getting them to work together while keeping brand consistency.
Too many features
From a technical standpoint we had built a blazing fast platform with lots of features, but the users were struggling to understand how things worked. Musicians are not tech-savvy people, I’ll tell you that. They were overwhelmed by the amount of clickable icons, had a hard time telling the difference between the public / social part of the application and the private workspace. The platform cost too much for the number of active users we had, so we had to shut it down in 2018 after more than two years of development.
This was a life changing project for many reasons, especially from a business perspective. Some lessons learned:
- Not doing enough research: the app was easy to use for me and the team working on the thing, but not for new people. The UI shared many familiar patterns with popular platforms (such as Facebook or Soundcloud) but the majority of users weren’t able to complete tasks at a reasonable speed, compared to the existing tools. Assuming the user to know what to do was a mistake.
- Not shipping fast enough: we wanted to have all features available on the first release. That’s a big no-no. Did we really need a realtime socket chat? Or social features? Or cloud storage? We should have gotten user feedback way before investing that much time. We lost focus on the real goal of the app, which was to connect musicians and have them work together online.
- Poor resource allocation: server cost was way to high, the service was ready to scale up but our user base wasn’t. We could have launched the product with way less effort and gradually build by iteration. We weren’t able to keep the service up enough time to make the users appreciate the complexity of the app, we wasted our first impression and rapidly lost momentum.