Talking to users is great, it's what separates a designer from someone who just pushes pixels, but it's not a good idea to ask users what they like or what they want.
"Does ____ look like a helpful feature to you?" "Does ____ work for you?" "Is this better than before?"
What's the response going to be? "Sure, sounds good to me". Or "nah, I hate that kind of thing".
What you should do instead is observe user behavior. Watch how they interact with the tool/site/etc. and what they do. What are they trying to click on, what are they looking for, what is confusing. Ask them to talk out loud and share their thought process as they're going through the design.
Granted, the designer here may not have had time or access to do this, but then the questions should be more along the lines of what goals the users are trying to accomplish, and what helps or hinders them.
There's the old adage attributed to Henry Ford, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." Through observation, or task/goal-oriented questions, discover what people need instead, and design for that. My explanation here is very simplistic, but I hope it gets the idea across.
Source: Am designer, and review portfolios and conduct interviews. We look at process as much as we look at quality of output.
I wonder what kind of job one would expect to get from this. These tasks (gathering user feedback, doing visual designs) are probably divided between several people at Ableton already. Does he want to replace the whole team? Is he asking to be their boss? Would he be OK with a junior position that lacked authority to make all the changes he's proposing here?
So if he gets an offer, it would most likely be as a designer. Of course the HR department will have to make sure that his skills also work in the given team.
1. someone at exec/board/mgmt-level somewhat detached from product development process sees it and comes in with the "see! this is what it should look like, this looks way better, this guy gets it and he doesn't even work here! you should hire him / do this." which doesn't tend to be received too well from the people doing the actual work, who for right or wrong have all sorts of reasons it doesn't look like that.
if they are forced to bring him in or do it they probably aren't going to like it / him.
2. someone on the team sees it and goes "well, this dude doesn't understand the massive complexities and risks involved in something like this but hey that one piece is not that bad of an idea, let me re-work some stuff", but it doesn't seem like it would help them much to bring him on-board... "uninvited" has a negative connotation for a reason.
of course if could play out very differently, but responses along those lines (if any at all) seem most likely from my experience. it seems like a good approach to rally community support for something, but the community is not the people building the product by definition.
Sure, he might love to work at Ableton, but as a portfolio artifact this project may very well attract attention at other places which are interested in that kind of skill-set. I think that's really the intent rather than a single-minded, unsolicited appeal to just one employer.
Its not unprecedented. Googly-as-heck went much further [https://medium.com/@googleyasheck], spent 8-months publicly preparing for a google interview, blogged about it, then didn't get hired by Google. He instead got hired by Amazon. Not bad at all and not a waste of time-- though I bet it was hard for him to get rejected by his dream employer.
I'd be interested in implementing something like this and putting it in front of some artists. A lot of the time companies like Ableton face a challenge where they have to choose between changing their UI to make it more useful, and keeping it the same so as not to upset their existing userbase.
Personally I think that UI should be completely decoupled, such that you can iterate on the backend to your heart's content, and fork your UI more or less at leisure; leaving your existing users with a stable experience if they want it, and offering new users an exciting, productive, and discoverable view into the same system.
If you look how much time gets invested into modding some game's UI, how much neat things could be done, if the whole UI of a DAW is easily moddable.
I hope the tasks are not divided between people. Feedback loops work best if they're quick and direct. Designers should be able to observe users try out their own designs.
The rest of the team would work on other aspects of the product, e.g. other design aspects or implementation.
Does he want to replace the whole team?
I think that in order to get the best results it should be part of the company culture to question everything, and sometimes that means questioning the work of other people. In the same way, everybody should be thankful for helpful feedback and suggestions.
* Saving the project resets the undo history. A someone who frequently saves, this is super frustrating.
* No normal zoom controls. You have to use the "minimap" at the top.
* Only a single project can be open at once, which makes copying from old projects tedious unless you shuffle files around into your current project.
* Tracks can only be grouped one level deep, i.e., no subgrouping. Most DAWs give you arbitrary grouping depths.
* No way to overlay multiple tracks in the piano roll. I end up starting in one group and extracting to individual buses afterward. This doesn't work well the other way around.
My biggest wish for the next version is project versioning. It's an absolute nightmare managing so many save "checkpoints", especially, as I mentioned, you can only have a single project open at once.
When you want to use it again, drag the saved rack into your project. The plugins settings will be restored.
* support for mono tracks
* sys-ex for everything, not just Push 2
* VST 3
* a completely open API, not just the selected highlights that are available now
You can drop entire projects from the Finder into open projects, which is clunky but does make things a TINY bit less tedious
In logic it's just a checkbox. Surely it can't be too hard?
I noticed metering was on the survey. I really wish that within a device rack (along the bottom) the metering between devices had settings that let you see Peak, RMS, and a numbered meter. You could do it all with lines... one meter for RMS, peaks that sit at the top, and tick marks for 0, -6, -12, -18. Most people don't fully appreciate gain staging and it's so important. I use a lot of vintage Waves plugins (CLA-76, LA-2A, API 550/2500) and I'm always having to insert Klanghelm meters, Utility effects, or observe the In/Out reading on those plugins to make sure I'm driving them right. The device area becomes messy just because a simple lack of metering and gain staging.
Sadly, I think most EDM music makers don't understand this. Maybe I'm stuck in the acoustic 70s using these vintage-style plugins. =)
My other beef is lack of Arrangement View features on Push 2, but alas, this isn't a hardware redesign. =) NICE WORK.
Live's UI is busy, but not as busy as many other DAWs. It is just enough to get the job done without using up screen real-estate needlessly. This is one of its many strengths.
Electronic music production needs efficient workflow. A utilitarian, but efficient UI wins over a better-looking but less efficient UI. This is why Live hides so much functionality in small buttons which toggle additional sections of the UI. Yes, it may not be obvious to someone coming into Live cold. But it makes working with the enormous complexity of a professional DAW a breeze once you learn where all the bits and pieces are, and lets you git the bits you don't presently care about out of the way so you can focus on the current task.
To implement this design, I imagine it would take a lot more than switching color schemes. I don't know anything about the internals of Ableton, but it would have to be made very modular, with public low-level APIs..
"EDIT: Unfortunately, at the end, I didn’t get the job nor an interview where I could have commented on or explained my design decisions. However, after I got the email saying that they don’t want to hire me, I did get a chance to talk with their head of design, Ed Macovaz. Ed and I discussed my unsolicited redesign and he gave me his and team’s feedback as well as some useful insights on how to improve as a designer."
To me, it's quite a strange turn of events. I would at least call a guy to have a proper interview.
I like how you treated track groups. That's definitely one of the biggest missing features for me.
I also really like the level-of-detail sliders, what a cool concept, would really add lots of flexibility to the UI.
Or a full featured iPad app. TouchAble seems to be rather successful but it's a remote control surface rather than a stand-alone audio solution. Plus, there's only so much you can do as third party developer.
Second: I like the design but: is it just me or does this look a whole lot like Logic?
Can you describe what a modulation system is - what's your understanding?
Also any examples out there that illustrate this, other apps that do it well?
It's not like a node based shader system like in Houdini or like Fusion's compositing system?
Many Ableton devices have features such as this on specific parameters like filter frequency but, without Max for Live, you can't map custom modulations from arbitrary sources.
Here is an example on one such Max for Live device, pitched as a 'general purpose' LFO: https://www.ableton.com/en/blog/lfo-20-free-max-live-device-...
Also did some research online before I saw your answer and found an answer after watching a video about Bitwig Studio's unified modulations system .
Grey text on a grey background is just not high contrast enough to be accessible.
I am currently using this theme by PureAV (UI designer of Serum Plugin) http://pureav.deviantart.com/art/Ableton-Live-9-Skin-5893383... but it also is not too easy on the eyes and sometimes I switch back to the default one.
Concerning UI language I also like this Ableton Redesign Concept:
FL seems to be improving at a much more rapid pace. Bitwig gives us at least a glance at what's coming.
But Ableton? It really seems like they're getting complacent. Or they're struggling. Or maybe they're saving up everything for 10 (but telling no one about it). Ugh.
If I wasn't such a fan of the workflow I'd jump ship.
I'm a programmer so I guess I could make it happen!
If your goal is to actually deal with users and their feedback, this is probably more important than it is for anyone who just wants to show their design clout.
I feel questionnaires are stupid. I do have ideas on how stuff I use often could be made better and I share it with the creators if there is a way to reach out to them.
I don't mind sharing a video of my typical usage and maybe some annotations with it but that's it. I don't think I can answer questions like "Do you like this" or "Do you think this screen is useful" objectively or accurately in any manner that could be useful to the designer or implementor.
I love the yellow indicators. However, I find gray text on gray background to not be very readable. Yes, I'm getting old.
I have used different online communities to get to the Ableton Live users (thanks again guys, this was super helpful). If you’re interested in these conversations, feel free to check out the links or screenshots below.
Ableton Forum Part 1 (link) and Part 2 (link)
Ableton Live Facebook Group (link)
Ableton Addicts Facebook Group
Ableton Subreddit Part 1 (link) and Part 2 (link)
Edit: Found a sneak peek on Nenad's Dribbble: https://dribbble.com/shots/3564223-Ableton-Live-Redesign
There are tons of more detailed images on that page, but it would be too much work to save them all.
Not sure if that's a good sign or not.