A Wired article this morning led me to We Are Hunted. It’s an awesome example of the difference UI makes. There are tons of music sites out there, but most are 90% chrome. Compare We Are Hunted to Rush Hour or Sounds of the Universe. The other sites are a lot of text and navigation with tiny postage-stamp album covers. We Are Hunted flips the formula by focusing on album art and the result is like standing in a record store. There’s art in your face everywhere. Scenes and styles and provocation and “howtf is this record going to sound?” all lurk in an album cover. Clicking a cover to play the linked track gives you the familiar feeling of taking a CD home and examining the art while the first track streams through the speakers.
Aesthetics aside, this comes back to UI design. Music sites have mostly the same elements. A cover image thumbnail, a play link, the artist name, the track name, etc. The difference comes in the triage. How do you decide what’s important? What do you focus on? What do you want your customer to see first? To see second? We Are Hunted gave album art the top slot and the result sets their site apart and gives their customers a markedly different experience.