A mobile app that brings free audio streaming services to music and podcast enthusiasts, whenever they want and wherever they may be.



3 weeks


Solo Capstone Project for Springboard UI/UX Bootcamp


Jashan Gupta
UX Advisor

context & business goals

Since the company's launch 2 years ago as a freemium model, the platform has since been well received and has accumulated a healthy user base of free users. The company is now looking for ways to monetize its success by offering users a premium experience for a monthly subscription fee; ultimately leading to positive conversion rates and increased revenue.

the challenge

Justifying the upgrade

The current app provides users with very basic music streaming options and does not offer the opportunity to subscribe to a premium experience. The challenge I undertook was to design desirable premium features and create the interaction points that would encourage new and existing users to subscribe; thereby increasing company revenue.

the solution

To thoughtfully create compelling subscription opportunities throughout the platform by incorporating strategic paywalls, highlighting essential information, and building value through positive user experiences.

the outcome

My designs created compelling opportunities for new and existing users to subscribe to a premium product through realistic experiences, free trials, and desirable features. Based on the latest round of usability tests, 80% of users stated that they would subscribe to the premium product byway of a free trial.

The Process


Through the eyes of the user

To better understand the problem space, I conducted secondary and primary research through competitive analysis and user surveys.

📄 Click here to view the Research Plan

User Surveys

User surveys would provide insight on user behaviors, attitudes, and preferences while interacting with other audio streaming apps.

target user

  • Demographics: Aged 18-24, male and female, students and young workers
  • Attributes: Highly tech-savvy, very budget conscious
  • Wants & Needs: Access to music and/or podcasts are essential to their daily lives


  • To gain quantitative data on the conversion rate of users as well as qualitative data on why users upgraded
  • To understand user behaviors leading to the point of conversion--exactly when they decided on their journey to upgrade; before, after a free trial or during the free audio consumption flow
  • To further understand what the greatest impact was which caused the conversion

survey results

Competitive Analysis

I began my research by conducting competitive analysis on four of the industry’s leading freemium audio streaming apps: Spotify, Pandora, LiveXLive and YouTube Music.


  • Understand how competitors create opportunities for conversion during registration, sign in, and throughout the platform
  • Experience firsthand whether there were any frustrations or pain points that would stand out
Competitive Analysis of leading companies
🔗 Link to full document

key takeaways

  • 3 companies offered users some form of a free trial
  • Only YouTube Music utilized the registration/sign in flow as a point of conversion
  • All 4 apps offered users the opportunity to subscribe within the app
  • Spotify and YouTube Music gave users a more realistic experience by allowing song choice freedom, while Pandora and LiveXLive provided limited listening options via “radio only” playback

"I felt the easiest way to access my content was by paying for the service rather than finding another platform to do it for free."


Summary of Key Research Findings

📄 Click here to view the full Research Summary

1. 87% of users prefer to try the app before subscribing

21 out of 24 participants have upgraded to subscription services in the past as a result of trying the app for free.

2. 87% of users would rather subscribe to premium to ensure their audio
flow is undisturbed

17 users stated that one of the main reasons for upgrading was due to the advertisements which interrupted their audio streaming flow. 15 users also stated that they wanted more control within the app.

3. 42% of users upgraded as a result of a free trial

3 of the companies offer free trials as users are interacting with the app. 9 participants decided to subscribe after a free trial subscription because it created an enticing experience which would be difficult to forego once it has been tried.

"Spotify did a holiday for $1/3mo.
After that, I couldn't go back."


Whet the appetite

Based on my own personal free experiences with the 4 platforms, I concluded that by employing just the right amount of freedom to whet the user's appetite while incorporating paywalls on certain desired features, it would allow users to build trust through positive experiences. With this in mind, I began to draft my designs based on this ideology.

Design Direction

⛔️ Why I did not select this option

Although limited user control and basic features are paywalls that are utilized by some competitors, my research findings indicate that the majority of users want to know whether the product is worth paying for before subscribing. This option does not provide a realistic experience for the user which can lead to lack of trust and abandonment.

Limited user control, limited features, constant paywalls, Subscribe Now CTAs
Comprehensive features, limited paywalls, Free Trial CTAs

✅ Why I selected this option

Based on my research findings, most users are inclined to subscribe in exchange for control and undisturbed audio consumption. By offering comprehensive free features with limited paywalls, and the option of a free trial, this builds trust with the user which ultimately leads to higher subscription conversions.

User Flows

By establishing the information architecture through these flows, it would allow me to make strategic design decisions on where the conversion touch points could potentially be. This would further help determine the trajectory of my upcoming usability tests as I could validate these designs with real users.


To working more efficiently, I utilized UI kits to help serve as a basis to my layouts and drew inspiration from other audio streaming apps. While sketching out the initial screens, I highlighted any significant design interactions.

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In preparation for a round of guerilla usability testing, I created low-fidelity wireframes based off the sketches.

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Testing with anyone, anywhere

The goal was to test early in order to uncover any usability issues. So I loaded up my prototype and went on weekend trip to Disneyland. While standing in line, waiting for rides in the scorching Southern California heat, I used this opportunity to conduct quick guerrilla usability tests with 5 willing participants.

Guerrilla Usability Tests


Observe user reactions, behaviors and thoughts when encountering upgrade touch-points


Users may feel annoyed by all the upgrade touchpoints, specifically with the advertisements during the media consumption flow which could lead to app abandonment.

usability test resuts & key findings

🔗 Link to full Test Summary
"Constantly running into things that you can’t do like skipping or not having access to cool features would cause me to want to upgrade."


Bringing it all together

I had to create the visual designs which would embody the company's established brand personality and attributes.

Hi-fi mockup

creating a clickable prototype

Based on what I had learned from the usability tests, I made iterations and created a clickable prototype in Figma. The prototype would then be used for another round of usability tests with the following tasks:

1. Register as a new user and find a way to view Post Malone’s albums

Visual Designs

brand personality

Uniquely diverse, but somehow always familiar

brand attributes

Bold, smart, hip

color palette


setting the tone

Keeping in mind the target user demographics, it was imperative to choose the right tone of voice for the app. Keeping the content young, casual, and lighthearted would help build rapport with the user rather than making them feel like a business transaction.

2. As a free user, find out whether it’s possible to listen to Kanye West’s album, Donda
3. Sign in as a returning free user and listen to Drake’s song “God’s Plan”
4. Skip the current song and start free trial by downloading a song
5. Upgrade to Premium after your free trial has ended

Usability Tests

5 participants who matched Spirio’s target user demographics were recruited. 1 usability test was conducted in person while the remaining 4 were conducted via remote moderated sessions through Zoom and the online usability testing tool, Maze.


  • Uncover any usability flaws
  • Observe the initial impression of how participants felt about the different upgrade touchpoints
  • Determine whether upgrade touchpoints flowed well and made sense

usability issues uncovered

key takeaways

  • Users understand that in return for using a free product, advertisements are inevitable
  • Users don’t need to be constantly reminded about their unclaimed Free Trial
  • The most compelling reasons for users to upgrade are to listen to new releases and uninterrupted audio streaming
  • 4 users would subscribe to premium after the free trial is over


Changes for the greater good

My top priority was to iterate on the major usability issues I had uncovered through the usability tests. I pinpointed the screens which needed attention and began redesigning the interactions.

Overlay and blur removal
  • Original overlay “Swipe to listen” and blur effect used to provide visual clue that content is a Premium feature
  • Users wanted see the content they are missing out on
  • Final: By adding the Spirio icon, this allows the user to quickly make the connection that this is a Premium feature.
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The importance of content writing
  • The word “upgrade” after users had already experienced a free trial was confusing to them
  • Final: By rewording the CTA from “Upgrade Now” to “Get Spirio Premium”, it provides clarification on what the CTA will provide.
  • Although this iteration was strictly based on written copy, it is a humble reminder that content within a certain context can make a huge impact on the user.
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Connecting the user’s disjointed  path
  • Users were not brought back to their original screen after initiating a free trial which made their journey feel disjointed
  • There was no visual confirmation after initiating the free trial through Apple Pay
  • Final: In addition to bringing the user back to their original journey, adding a confirmation page allows the user to have clear visibility of the system status--in this case, confirmation that their free trial has been initiated.

the final product

Spirio in action

A walkthrough of the major task flows.

“As a new free user, I want to check one of my favorite artists on Spirio. Then I want to look for Kanye West’s new album, Donda.”

“I want to listen to Drake and download a song onto my device through the free trial.”

“My free trial is over, but I want to find a way to subscribe to Premium.”

clickable prototype

Explore Spirio

Try your hand at Spirio!


Learnings & Takeaways

It's okay to use an existing design... just make it your own

I drew a lot of inspiration from existing audio streaming apps as well as some UI kits. I initially felt a little bit guilty for doing that, but as I continued to seek inspiration, I noticed that all of the interfaces held many similarities. I began to understand that the reason was not because they were copying each other, but because it’s what the user needs; familiarity. At the end of the day, my goal is to make the product as easy and effortless to use as possible, while making it distinctly my own.

Research builds a solid foundation

Conducting user research at the beginning set myself up for success in that I was able to formulate hypotheses early on and avoid designing with tunnel vision based on my own biases. It also helped me corroborate findings through my own usability tests to ensure that I was on the right path.

Don't get lost in the prototype

Although prototypes are supposed to reflect the real end product, it’s also important to understand that it’s called a prototype for a reason. You are limited to the number of possible paths users can take and it’s important (from an efficiency point of view) to focus on the paths and interactions that matter most rather than making it as realistic as possible.

Next Steps

Animations to enhance the user experience

Slipping in some fun little animations can give the user an even more delightful and engaging experience.

Incorporating a social aspect

With Spirio’s target user being that of 18-24 year olds, market research indicates that this generation also greatly utilizes their social networks on a daily basis. By incorporating a social aspect where users can converse, share media, and meet other like-minded individuals can reshape and enhance Spirio’s business model.

Gamification to encourage conversion

This project so far focuses on CTA’s throughout the app to provide means of subscription opportunities, but it would be interesting to look at how gamification can be incorporated into these touch points.

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© Elaine Chan Design 2024

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