A few weeks ago, the geniuses behind social music-sharing website Soundcloud teased us sith a preview of a new version of their site, simply referred to as “Next”. We of coursed immediately signed up for the beta (as we usually do) and waited in anticipation. We just got the email today that we’ve been given an exclusive invite to take a sneak peek at the new site.
Just by taking a brief glance at the site, you can tell things are different. Really different. Instead of a cluttered Dashboard, they’ve introduced what they call the “Stream”. The new homepage almost reminds me of Facebook or Tumblr – the right hand column stays stationary while the left column scrolls smoothly. You now have the ability to repost tracks you enjoy, which works very similarly to the share feature on Facebook and the repost feature on Tumblr. Also, you can now see which of your followed artists are online, although there doesn’t seem to be an instant messaging feature (maybe in the future?). All in all, I would give the new homepage or “Stream” page a 5/5.
The track page is where things start to get a little uncomfortable for me. The album artwork, now much bigger, is below the player which I think looks a little odd. If the artist doesn’t include any track info, then there is useless whitespace inbetween the album artwork and artist info box. The waveform is clearly the prominent feature on the page and really looks beautiful. Track comments are for the time being not able to be hidden (again, something I really don’t like). I’m still not entirely sure how the new commenting system works, as it’s all hidden within the player. It seems as if you have to hover over the comment bar for a few seconds before a window appears showing the comments. Definitely a lot less emphasis on the comments, which some people may welcome. A recent post on GottaDanceDirty.com lamented about the amount of comment spam on Soundcloud track pages (Hey I’m a 16 year old producer from Colorado, check out my work!!!11!!11). Overall I give the track page a 3/5.
The profile pages now have more of a true showcase feel and again have the new sleek and refine design and overall have a more web 2.0 feel. The Tracks/Explore pages have yet to be redesigned. And finally, the controversial HTML5 player is now default site wide, which means mobile users will have a much better overall experience when browsing the site on the go.
The “Next” Soundcloud is sexy, sleek, extremely refined, and ready to take us into the future. Changes to our beloved websites are sometimes hard to accept, but remember most website designers usually trying to make us have the best experience possible.
At the time of this writing, the new Soundcloud is in beta so anything I have written above may change before it’s public release.