Spotify and the UX of podcast listening

With over 320 million users Spotify is the world’s largest music streaming platform. However, Spotify is missing the mark when it comes to podcasts. In this UX audit of their podcast experience we'll try to understand why.

Spotify and the UX of podcast listening

The UX of Spotify’s Podcast Experience

Spotify is the world’s largest music streaming platform, with over 320 million active users. And anyone who’s been using Spotify for a while knows that it’s not just a great app for listening to music. It’s also a platform for podcasts. According to recent data, Spotify, Google and Apple are the 3 main platforms for listening to podcasts. And their share is growing: while in 2019 their share was 55% of the market, the share is now 64% (data here).

However, following the Apple decline, Spotify missed its chance to conquer the top. The winner is currently Youtube (Google) as you can see from the graph below:

UX audit of Spotify podcasts

So, how’s the podcast experience on Spotify? And what is missing in the current UX? Let’s have a look.

UX review of the Spotify podcast experience


Tip: you can navigate the slides using your keyboard.

The Good: Navigation and Seamless Integration with Music

Spotify does a great job with navigation for podcasts. It’s easy to find new shows and episodes, and you can even create podcast playlists. Plus, the integration with music is seamless. You can easily switch between listening to music and podcasts without losing your place.

Spotify has introduced a new feature which allows you to create playlists based on podcasts. This was not possible till recently.

The Bad: Filtering and Browsing

Podcasts are enjoyed by people all over the world, in many different languages. But one thing Spotify doesn’t let you do is filter by language. So if you’re looking for a Spanish-language podcast, you’ll have to wade through a lot of English-language shows to find what you’re looking for. This is a big miss on Spotify’s part.

The experience of trying to select episodes from a single show can still be quite chaotic. Having no way to filter out uninteresting episodes means users often have to scroll through many episodes that they’ve already assessed. This can be frustrating and time-consuming. It would be helpful if there were a way to more easily find and select episodes that are of interest. Perhaps a filtering system could be put in place so that users could narrow down their options more quickly and easily. In any case, the current system is far from perfect and could use some improvement.

The Ugly: the UX of AI-based recommendation

One of the things that have made Spotify so successful in the world of music is its ability to recommend new artists and songs based on your listening habits. But this same feature is lacking when it comes to podcasts. If you’re looking for new shows to listen to, you’re out of luck.

The AI-based suggestions for podcasts are not performing as well. Part of the problem is that the user experience for podcasts is very different from music. Also, it takes a more complex recognition system to understand the content of podcasts and make recommendations.

In my opinion, the chance to provide relevant recommendations is where Spotify is missing the mark. This means that as a user you spend a lot of time browsing for relevant episodes to listen to.

Conclusion

Spotify is one of the most popular streaming services in the world and has come a long way since its launch in 2006.

When it comes to podcasts its seamless navigation between music and podcasts makes for a great UX. However, when it comes to the AI-based suggestions that have made it successful, Spotify is far away from the quality it provides for music.

Also, the UX of the podcast experience is still not fully taking into account the difference between music and podcasts, as is shown by the impossibility to filter according to language.

Lastly, when it comes to browsing through episodes from a single show, the experience is still a bit chaotic. There’s no way to filter out uninteresting episodes means users have to scroll every time through many episodes that they have already assessed.

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