Today, Spotify starts rolling out a new darker redesign. It's the biggest stylistic change we've seen since the service launched its web-based player in late 2012. The new look ditches the old app's overcast grays for a sleek facade that's blacker than hell — and it's so much more beautiful and useful for it.
I spoke with the Spotify design team about the new look, and they emphasised that the goal was to make the album art pop as much as possible. To the same end, Spotify slimmed down and simplified its typography, and introduced new circular vignetting inside the icons that point to artist or people profiles. (The darker design also makes that Spotify green glow like a gob of wonderful Ninja Turtle ooze. Hit expand on the images, you'll see what I mean.)
The circle versus square contrast makes the distinction between organic human things and the art they make clearer.
Besides the new aesthetics, the UI has been improved, especially on the web player. The "Browse" section is now more graphical than before, making the icons feel more like buttons that lead to a pre-defined place than rando playlists made by some listless hipster.
The new design on the web changes the "Playlists" laundry to a much more robust "Your Music" section. Rather than just viewing a simple listing of all the random queues you've accumulated, the section now has sub-categories which show the tunes you've soaked up in the "discover" and "browse" sections. Over the last few years, Spotify has drastically improved its ability to surface music you might like. This UI tweak makes it easier to manage all the good stuff Spotify suggests!
I've been trying out the Spotify redesign for the last week, and I find it's a striking change that doesn't evolve the overall UI too much. It's a comfortable evolution. There are lots of little touches, which I won't go into for the sake of brevity, but they're noticeable throughout the app's web, desktop, and mobile iterations.
That said, some of my interface quibbles from before linger. Navigation between each of the broad categories could use a little more consistency. What's more, there's still no small player you can use on your desktop — the new look, like the old one, is designed specifically for full screen viewing, which isn't great for multitaskers.
All in all, though, kudos to the Spotify design team for making listening to great music look so damn pretty. The new design will be slowly rolling out to iPhone, desktop, and web starting today, with the refresh hitting broader platforms soon. It's a welcome improvement.