Apple Music Evaluation

@ University of Toronto

To review Apple Music's ease-of-use, a heuristic evaluation was conducted using information architecture guidelines and best practices. Several areas of improvement were then identified, each accompanied by design recommendations.

This project was completed as a course requirement for the Information Architecture course.

Background and Goals

Pretend that a client plans to build an audio streaming application. Before doing so, they wish to learn from the design choices of one of their future competitors, Apple Music. They requested for an evaluation to be done on the app, which will serve as a foundation for their own interface design. They wish to create an application that fits in the current market, and to build their understanding of potential users' characteristics (usage, needs, etc.) through the lens of their competitor.

To achieve our client's request, below are several research questions that we need to address (numbers do not represent order).


Heuristic evaluation method was chosen to answer the research questions above. To specify, the evaluation was conducted based on information architecture guidelines. In addition, Figma was utilized as a digital board for brainstorming and synthesizing the analysis of Apple Music's interface.

Figure 1. Brainstorming Board Artifact on Figma

Key Learnings

Compared to websites or desktop/laptop apps, the scope of mobile app navigation is much more limited due to its smaller screen size. Thus, it's extremely important that all of the main navigation categories (usually present on the bar at the bottom of the screen) are straightforward and purposeful. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case for Apple Music. There were several items inside the "Listen Now", "Browse", and "Radio" categories that were overlapping or even identical. These overlap can cause the distinction between the categories to fade away or decrease, so users are left confused about where each categories will navigate them to.

A recommendation would be to avoid having identical items inside different categories. In addition, conducting a card sorting exercise with users can help through: 1) identifying ambiguous items, 2) gathering insights into users' mental model, and even 3) discovering category label alternatives that makes more sense to users.

However, Apple Music does well in utilizing location feedback on their main navigation (e.g. coloring the corresponding icons on the bottom bar red), which informs users where they currently are in the app. This helps prevent users from feeling lost and disoriented while using the software.

To access more findings and recommendations, please refer to the evaluation's research report.

Research Impact

My Learnings