I was wondering what kind of research and testing Roon does on the user interface? I don’t mean to knock it because getting a product to this level on an international stage is a huge achievement. Even with great managers and developers however it appears to me (and other users) that no one equally skilled is working on the user experience.
I’m currently on the 14 day Roon trial however after less than a week I’m already investigating other solutions and I’m unlikely to purchase a subscription.
Navigating the different screens is confusing (pages don’t follow an understandable hierarchy). Trying to analyse information on any single page takes longer than it should (due to inefficient layout/formatting). Information you expect to appear on a single page is spread across multiple pages (again due to inefficient layout/formatting); and tasks you expect could be performed with a single click require multiple clicks across multiple pages.
One example involves the method of navigation on different pages. Horizontal on one page and vertical on another. Viewing a page of artists requires horizontal scrolling. Selecting the artist takes you to a page showing albums and tracks which requires vertical scrolling. Selecting a song then clicking the icon in the footer takes you to a page which just shows me a large picture of the band. I spend a few seconds trying to scroll left and right before realising nothing happens. I later work out it should display lyrics. Why does clicking a track when navigating albums perform a different task to clicking the track in the footer? 2 different functions are performed by doing the same task when viewing different pages. Why isn’t there just a dedicated icon for lyrics?
Another example involves the footer and how on some pages, the footer and main page become a single window displaying common content while on others it they display completely different information and perform different tasks.
Apple went from obscurity to the worlds most valuable company in just over a decade by empowering its users though great UX and ease of use. Every airline in the worlds uses exactly the same handful of aircraft however it’s the customer experience which makes some better than others.
I implore Roon to find great designers to help make a decent product spectacular…
While I probably don’t disagree with much of your sentiment what I think you are seeing is a child growing up in public.
I think they guys at Roon are aware of much of what you say and we shall see improvements with every new release.
Maybe check back this time next year, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Also do let us know if you find a program that meets the requirements you relate.
I also agree with much of the UX-design issues being a designer myself, but I haven’t found anything as good as Roon since 2017 and went lifetime a year ago. The development is so active that I also wouldn’t be surprised if they are going to make a big UX overhaul in the future.
You mean you just get used to it. Like a buried volume control??? Whassup with dat?
I agree with @Jim_F that the more I’ve used it the more it makes sense and the more it becomes second nature (almost 1 year in), and it is certainly improving with each release. I would like to see vertical scrolling on the main Overview screen, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker. Also, we are so conditioned by the Apple Industrial Complex to think that every human-computer interaction has to look like an iPhone, iPad or iMac. It’s kind of refreshing to use something regularly that has a degree of individuality or even quirkiness.
I like the horizontal scrolling. I see 27 albums per page. Tap the right arrow and see the next 27.
@Justin_Alexander: Your comments are accurate - especially the vertical vs. horizontal scrolling issues.
Roon absolutely needs an outside set of eyes on the UX. It should be obvious to anyone who does this for a living, and has followed the development of the app, that the Roon UX is a victim of repeated, incremental changes without a big-picture re-examination of the experience, from both a new user’s and a long-time customer’s perspective.
And, they really need a talented visual designer to lend a hand … the recent changes around the bold font issue provide clear testimony to that need.
I am happy with the app, but mostly for what it does underneath: sending music to my various devices is pure magic. And, compared with what else I have in my house: Sonos, Bluesound, Bryston… the Roon UX is a monumental improvement.
I just want to stress that I think Roon’s technical achievements are fantastic. It’s definitely moving music/audio in the right direction.
Apple don’t have a monopoly on great UX design but it appears they understand its importance enough to spend time and money on it. And while I’ve been using Mac since the year of its release, I’m not an Apple fanboy. I don’t use it because it’s cool but because it allows me to do more in less time than anything else on the market.
And while I agree the interface becomes easier to understand with time, wouldn’t it be better if it took a fraction of the time?
There’s a great deal of information on UX design and the benefits are easily quantifiable. Give a test group the same content but with different formatting; time how long it takes them to get through the material and test their comprehension of it.
At the most basic level, serif fonts are easier to read than san serif. Lower case is easier to read than ALL CAPS. However proper use of CAPITALISATION plays a huge role in information hierarchy. Line spacing to character height greatly influences legibility.
I’m currently viewing A Momentary Lapse Of Reason on my 27" iMac with Roon set to full screen. I understand this is a dedicated app and not a browser so the window contents function differently but I need to scroll in order to see only 11 tracks! And the font size is pretty small! WHY???
Anyway, I’m not going to bang on about it as it makes me sounds like I don’t appreciate what Roon have done. I just think they’re a good UX away from being great, and the time, money and resources required to do this are minimal in comparison to what they’ve already achieved.
I don’t know much about this topic, but I would say solve all other significant technical issues first, then improve the visuals. I don’t know they have resources to address everything at once.
I don’t think the OP is talking about the visuals. For one thing, Roon generally looks very good.
But yes, the UI is a complete mess. The pages are confusing. You get used to it more or less after a while, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement. Clicking on something does not yield consistent results depending on where you’re at, and the lack of clear hierarchy is annoying, I end up going back to Overview (and then resorting that to my liking) way more often then I should.
And that’s just the main stuff you do when playing music. Everything else becomes extra painful. Editing multiple individual albums - say, a big box set that was not recognized properly - requires moving your mouse all over the screen to an extent that will give you carpal syndrome. Steadfastly refusing to have Roon behave like any other software when right-clicking results in an insane amount of extra motions. And let’s also mention the complete horror show that is reordering tracks upon identification: that is literally the worst system I could thing of, coming straight off from tablets but with only the clicking and none of the dragging.
As for the UI getting better over time, I haven’t seen that yet. But I agree with those who say it needs a major overhaul rather than small corrections.
That’s what I call visuals. User interface is probably the correct term. I found it confusing for a couple days.
Regarding vertical scrolling, I was firmly in the “what’s with horizontal for artists/albums and vertical for tracks“ crowd, but a) I’ve got used to it, and b) it occurs to me you horizontally scan a shelf for a cd or record, select it, then read down the track list. Same thing! Amazing! The Roon GUI designers have just mimicked the real life experience
Roon is a great concept but as people often note the execution is really amateurish on the user level (not the actual metadata and performance level). And it’s so unnecessary. Explain buried? Just compare Sonos with Roon. Even if you forget the fact that Sonos sits on top of a locked Iphone and allows you access to play, pause, previous, next, and volume without even opening your device, once you get into the app the (large) volume control is accessible on the “now playing” page. Now compare to Roon. You have to open your device. Open the app. You have to know that the lower right corner of the screen has an icon that will open up yet another bar which required a finger to navigate tiny tiny tiny - and + buttons, often hitting the “device” bar which changes from one room to another instead of controlling the volume. Or not having a “sleep” function so that you can go to sleep to a Chopin nocturne and instead of having to get up and turn off roon radio it will nicely fade out in 15 minutes or however long you set it. If I’m not mistaken sleep buttons have been in $10 alarm clocks since the 70’s! Or an alarm to wake up to! Or the annoying scrolling issues. If you take someone who never saw Roon and ask them to work it you can see it very clearly (my wife screamed bloody murder when I went from Sonos to Roon). Sonos tests their software by asking users who never saw their software before to work it. I think Roon can learn a lot by doing the same thing. I suspect Roon will say this is not their purpose, their purpose is to provide audiophile control over music collections. I say the two go hand in hand. I’m sticking with Roon and will see how many usability issues were fixed in Valence. But I’m no starry eyed admirer. I’m skeptical they listen well. The old Sooloos software they designed in another life isn’t as robust but much cleaner.
It is not everyones cup of tea, is that surprising? Loved it when i first discovered and used it and I like it even more now.
So, Im happy.
Pity you are not
Can someone please help me with this VERY basic task? It’s taken me 15 minutes and I still don’t have an answer…
I’m looking for a song by Icehouse. I can’t recall its name but I’ll know it when I see the title. I have a TIDAL subscription and I assume that with Roon and Tidal’s databases I can find the track…
Logic dictates clicking the magnifying glass in the top right corner and typing ICEHOUSE.
It shows only 1 top result. ICEHOUSE the band. I select VIEW ALL in the tracks section assuming it will show all the tracks from the TOP RESULT. I’m surprised it only returns a handful of results. I realise it’s found tracks with ICEHOUSE in the name and not by ICEHOUSE the band.
So a few minutes later I return to the results page. Click the TOP RESULT - ICEHOUSE the band and get taken to a page with section headings, CONCERTS, TOP TRACKS, MAIN ALBUMS (1), MAIN ALBUMS (2), SINGLES EP and so on…
CONCERTS is the first section. How often are people looking for concerts vs albums or tracks when investigating a particular artist? And yet it takes top position!
Next I spend a few moments trying to work out why there are only a handful of tracks in the TOP TRACKS section. I spend even longer trying to work out why there are 2 heading with the title MAIN ALBUMS. I notice MAIN ALBUMS 1 has only album, while MAIN ALBUMS 2 has 10 albums.
Then I realise the first section is actually MY albums and should probably be titled YOUR albums while the second section is ALL of Icehouse albums and should probably be titled ALL ICEHOUSE Albums.
SINGLES AND EPs only has 1 entry and I’m still uncertain what that means. Did Icehouse only produce 1 EP in their entire career?
10 minutes later and I’m still no closer to completing a very simple task! How do I find a list of all tracks Icehouse has produced and play the one I’m looking for?
Can’t be done, I’m afraid.
2 workarounds: open Tidal app, search tracks by browsing all their tracks, favourite it or its album,
Or, select all their albums, add them to Roon. Now use track browser. (Would be useless for Sonny Rollins though…)
Best I can do, sorry.
Like @BrianW, my instincts were to use the “Tracks” browser (left, main menu). But that doesn’t work.
- I don’t have any Icehouse albums in my library.
- But I have Icehouse on three different 80’s compilations in my library.
- Qobuz shows 12 Icehouse albums, 1 EP, 7 appearances, 8 with various artists.
- When I go to the tracks browser I have just noticed that I can only filter on “album artist” not “artist” and the album has to be in my library. So, nothing shows.
- This means I cannot find the Icehouse tracks on the three 80’s compilations in my library.
- Worse case I have to browse (1x3) + (1x3) + 1 + 12 + 1 + 7 + 8 = 35 disks to find my track.
It is actually more than 35 disks as many of the Qobuz appearances & various artists (what on earth is the difference?!) are multi-disk compilations but I lost the will to live trying to make the calculations so lets just say 40+ disks.
This is a very good example of how difficult roon is to use once you get past the simplest of initial use cases. I don’t consider this to be an edge case at all.
I don’t mean this to sound sarcastic, but if you’re looking for a song you don’t know the name of, wouldn’t it be easier to do a google search, find out what album it’s on, then find it in Roon?
Sure, but one shouldn’t have to resort to Google. I happily ran for years using Foobar2000 and Google to find relationships with my own music but it’s not 2002 any longer.
Hopefully, Tidal and Qobuz metadata will be ingested by Valence and thus available to search without adding albums to local library first.