iSo Tones: A Case Study

iSo Tones is a mobile music app for students, instructors, and music enthusiasts. It isolates and plays back the different layers of a track. The app also allows users to record themselves singing, or playing, whatever a particular layer and send that recording to friends and instructors for feedback.

Initial Research: User Groups

After conducting a competitive analysis of current music apps with similar functions, informal interviews were conducted with users who are active participants in formal music groups. Some of the interview participants had experience using educational music apps and expressed interest apps that allowed them to have greater control over the scrub bar feature.

Two distinct user groups emerged from the initial research process:

  • Users age 45 and older who sing in choirs and chorales.
  • Users age 35 and younger who are involved in various musical groups through school or as a hobby.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.41.01 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.40.39 PM

Two personas were created to reflect these user groups.

Storyboarding: User Scenario 

Using the college aged a cappella persona as a starting point, a storyboard was created to illustrate how the iSo Tones experience offers users another method of learning music in a less pressured environment.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.42.26 PM

The storyboard focused on what makes iSo Tones unique from other music education apps, namely its mobility, layer isolation, recording, and share features.

Task Flow: User Paths

With two distinct user groups in mind, a detailed flow diagram was created with new and returning users in mind. The flow diagram not only focuses on each user’s path and actions, but it also minutely illustrates all of the app screens/pages that the user will touch during their path through the app.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.44.54 PM

First Prototype Iteration: Paper

Using the flow diagram as a map a paper prototype was created to help visualize the look, feel and flow of the app. The paper prototype focused the main value propositions of the app namely the song widget, record, and share screens. Due to the upload/download song focus of this app, the initial architectural structure of the app focused on helping users add and organize songs. The initial tab navigation bar reflects this focus.


Users who tested the paper prototype struggled to navigate the app with the tab bar due to it’s vague labels and unlabeled share icon.

Second Iteration: Digital Prototype

 Labels and icons were added to all tabs in the tab bar for the second iteration of iSo Tones. The tabs in the tab bar—“Song Lists,” “Add Songs,” and “Shared Recordings”—functioned the same as the tabs in the paper prototype. However the “Share” tab was removed, because the share function only came into play after the user created recordings. Thus, it was added as a button in the recordings widget.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.50.34 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.51.09 PM

Users who tested the second iteration found the overall color scheme of the app too dark. The color scheme made users not only completely ignore the tab bar, but it also made it difficult for them to see the double scrub bar and record button.

Third Iteration: Final Digital Prototype

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.49.56 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.49.31 PM

The third iteration of iSo Tones focused on simplifying the tab bar and lightening the overall color scheme of the app. The tab bar no longer offered users too many ways of organizing songs and instead simply put songs in one tab and recordings in the other. The splash page of iSo Tones was also simplified to focus on iSo Tones value proposition and getting the user to download the app.