I’m an independent music maker/producer and I only use Musicbrainz [MBz] intermittently, once or twice a year, when I’m doing the rounds of all the on-line places where I have to register a new release (e.g. PPL, PRS for Music, Discogs, MBz…). For me, the clearest for data-entry are Discogs and PPL, and tied for most confusing and time-consuming are MBz and PRS for Music.
Typically, I log-on to MBz and I want to register a new release…
I want to see an obvious link to a straightforward, intuitive-to-use data entry form for common release types, denoted in widely-used terms (my guess is that almost everyone is releasing a single, album, EP, video, not a 'release group’…).
For me, coming to do data entry, the MBz interface is confusing at every turn. Too many reflexive loops occur whilst navigating the site. It’s hard to tell exactly “where” you are and thus what effect your actions are having on the database. The rules are verbose and therefore unlikely to be read in full or remembered by an intermittent user.
I sense from the convoluted structure of the site and prominence of esoteric rules that MBz has some of its origins in music collecting. I also sense that MBz aspires to completeness and accuracy…
I would respectfully suggest that whilst a collector may be an authority on releases in which artist or licensor interest has lapsed, with new music the authority is likely to be the person or label releasing it. If I’m an agent, committing time to register new releases, you may be assured that I’ll do my best to do it correctly. Please make it as easy as possible for me. I understand that some data-checking is necessary, but I’m not here to join the band of editors and I’m not interested in the esoteric voting system.
Overall, I’d say:
- Streamline data-entry by limiting the ways in which data can be entered;
- Offer clear, immediate feedback. ‘YES, THANKS’ if the entry is formally correct; ‘NO, YOU CANNOT DO THIS, DO THIS INSTEAD PLEASE’ if an entry is nonsensical in database terms;
- Make it all simpler to look at and easier to read;
- Make it so that the operationally-essential data-entry rules are 200-300 words in total and can be easily found and read.
one thing i’d really appreciate for the homepage is responsive design
if someone new hears about musicbrainz and looks it up on their phone, it’d be nice for them to see a page that doesn’t require horizontal scrolling
It would be strange to display front page nicely on mobile and not the entity pages.
As the front page inherits the global layout,
responsive design should be thought globally, no?
True. What is CB? Seriously, I’ve never heard of it. I didn’t even know other “Brainz” existed until years after I started on MB. CAA, is part of Internet Archives, but I do get your point.
Update: Oh. CritiqueBrainz. I see that on the list of topics here on the board. I’ve seriously never head of it. So, your point is very well taken.
Wooo! Firstly, I would like to make myself available if you need a designer for the project on a volunteer basis (background in graphic and web design (not dev), a lot of Intranets in the last few years -sigh- ).
General notes on the front page:
- Say don’t do! The current home page is full of words about what the site wants to do instead of just having the elements to do them
- Don’t just use developers/coders please - if nobody with clean and clear UI or design experience is involved in such a big design project I will pull my arms off and throw them at you
- Spend some time brainstorming, analysing current user behaviour, and/or do some surveys re. what the goals and target user type (and order them from most important > least important) of each page is before thinking about even the simplest wireframe. Measure ideas and mockups against these goals*
- Don’t prioritize current user opinions for a page like the home page! Think about how MB wants to grow (if it does), and who it wants/needs to reach. We already have our current users in the bag (though certainly the result could be that you want to get more of the same demographic)
- Related to the above, two different home pages (a la Discogs), one for logged in and one for not logged in, may be a requirement to be able to serve the potentially very different key audiences of data contributors (editors) and data consumers
*I have lots of specific ideas, but without knowing the key goals and target audience it’s a bit of a jumble to just throw them out there. e.g. encouraging more community, leveraging data visualisations for ‘cool’ effect, streamlining the path to making an edit, make search the focus, etc… every time one is ‘improved’ or highlighted, another aspect has to be pushed down/loses focus, so I would love to see what the hierarchy of importance is?
p.s. in the past I made a mockup showing some possible elements highlighting/encouraging more community feeling. Note it is not a web page mockup, it’s just a visual container for various ‘widget’ ideas.
110% here - I though it was me, but if it’s a common issue we might want to consider changing it a bit
100% agree. We are all working on building a huge DB, but who are the users? Are they people who are just looking for information about their music or about new music they would like to find out? It seems to me that there is a lot to be done in this regard.
For instance, why not use AcousticBrainz to advise the user based on their favorite music, like all the streaming platforms do?
I think most of the user use MB only to tag their music by Picard
Good idea! Some dashboard for editors can be useful and let us make more newcomers/consumers oriented landing page not complicating the work of contributors
I’ve never met anyone who uses Picard and I don’t think physical media and local files will be the main sources of music in the future. On the contrary, tools to recognize online streamings, search for information for an album and find new music is what I would like to have.
For myself, I listen to music with physical CD in one of my music sets, basically a regular CD deck plugged on amplifier (no streaming, no Picard), press PLAY.
And I use MusicBrainz, mainly for:
- Encyclopedic purpose, learn stuff about the artists who make the albums I like, see in what other bands or albums they are involved and try them too
- Keep track of my collection, to ease my life when I am in flea markets / second hand shops, I can know if it’s worth or not to buy this or that album, do I already own its recordings in another release?
When not logged in, it’s a must to see the brief description of MusicBrainz and maybe a few release examples (like we already have).
The design can be redone but I think we already have all the important elements.
When logged in, even if I don’t really use the homepage myself, I read about having a dashboard.
We used to have a pre-NGS dashboard that was focusing on trying to increase votes (and thus more reviews) on current edits.
Here is a look at how it looked like (but most data is missing in this snapshot, pre-NGS classic site was already offline): MusicBrainz Dashboard.
- Hot edits
- Need love edits
- Expired edits
- Recently changed artists
- Recently changed releases
- Recently changed labels
Is it possible to share the current analytics of the website (main queries, reference links, main contents per page views, …)?
I think It’d be cool to run some polls so whoever designs the UI can set priority according to the amount of users for any given profile
But we can sum it up to:
If you are not logged in, it means you want to understand what the site is about and then maybe you would like to browse its content (latest examples, search).
If you are logged in, it means you want to fix or add stuff to the database.
I mean, whatever your profile (how you listen to music, etc.), I don’t think it changes a lot in what you expect of the home page, does it?
I think as editors, we’d all probably expect the same things but with a different priority order
But I like the idea of discoverable new music a la Spotify, that could drag in new users rather quickly.
Thing is, which relationships would this use to create these recommendations? Seems interesting.
Frequent problem with crowdsourcing project: they don’t have crowd to sourcing them. Community gone or never exist. So first think i do when found interesting crowdsourcing project is try to understand: Is project alive? How many active contributor? Project developing or stagnating? Isn’t it zombie-site witch and his un-life in few week when end hosting paid period?
So, for crowdsourcing project is good idea to show things like recent activity, daily statistic, changelogs of software. Not because newcomer need exactly this information, but to show him that project alive and developing, and it is reasonable investment of his time
In my opinion, based on the user’s interests, the home page should change a lot. If you are interested in finding music, you expect to have a home page that helps you search (by country, genre, artist, …) or browse different categories, such as
If you are a developer, you can expect a home page similar to the one online now.
I like the idea of different homepage for guests and logged in users. I’d also love to be able to customize my homepage (read dashboard) a bit.
This is an example of something the homepage doesn’t present well. Compare to the wikipedia homepage, which has multiple sections that invite browsing. MB has only the “Recent Additions” cover art, which doesn’t give any clue that MB could be used to answer questions like “What recordings did George Martin produce?” or “How many recorded versions of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos are there?”