Introducing Spotify's New Design Principles (2023)

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Spotify design team

Spotify has new design principles and we look forward to sharing them with you! In this article, we'll look at how to filter out what's important to us and how to introduce the new principles to the team. Read on to see how we aim to make Spotify relevant, human and unified.

Last year a group of us got together to answer a tough question: as Spotify continues to grow, how can we maintain a high level of design quality in the experiences we create?

After some research, we recognized an important opportunity: In order to increase quality, we need clear and practical design principles. Why principles? For one, we felt we couldn't help teams judge whether they were designing the "Spotify way" if we hadn't defined what the Spotify way is; We needed guidance. We also wanted to help designers speak the same language when discussing project goals and providing feedback. An updated set of principles could form part of this alignment.

Where do we start

Spotify-Originaldesign principlesIt was 2013, and in that time they've done a lot to shape a collective voice through design across the company. Spotify is a Swedish music company; our previous policies reflected this. (Note the Swedish concept ofmoderate!)

Now, in 2020, Spotify has changed a lot. we have become oneFirst audio companyand doubled down on podcasts; we create products for listeners, artists and advertisers; and we've gone from a handful of designers to almost 200.

When we look at the existing principles, we ask ourselves: do they still feel in all the things we design? Do Spotify designers know them? The answer

We have identified three problem areas:

  • Focused on the music experience for consumers:Spotify was growing and the principles didn't seem to apply to everything we design.

  • General concepts:Principles such as lagom and do less may overlap, making them difficult to explain and use in evaluating our work.

  • Difficult to remember:From our research and feedback from designers, we found that there are only suchA lotfollowing principles. A smaller sentence would be easier to use in practice.

In short, the old principles had to be updated.

Create new design principles.

Last year, the members of our working group (about a dozen product designers and UX authors) came together to address this topic in a joint workshop. The goal was to get input from everyone in the group, rather than one person saying, "This is how Spotify should be designed."

We use three guiding questions to stay focused:

  1. Why do we create these design principles?

  2. Who are they for?

  3. How are they used?

After some lively discussion, we agreed that the principles serve as a framework for creating and evaluating work: they can help product designers make design decisions, and they can provide us with a common language for design criticism. The real challenge was defining whatneuPrinciples should be What design attributes and values ​​should we strive for when designing? How should the product feel?

All ideas went into a huge matrix and we voted on points to help us narrow them down. Based on that, we drafted the new principles, shared them with our design leadership team, and made some adjustments.

And voila! Our new Spotify design principles were born.

Let's take a closer look:


It's about reflecting on you as an individual.

Spotify was made for you, we want you to feel personal. To be relevant, we need to be careful about what we present, to whom, and in what context. Put simply, it comes down to when we present the right information at the right time. The opposite value is that we don't want "one size fits all" experiences.


It's about communication, expression and human connection.

Yes, Spotify has its roots in technology. But it's about people. Sometimes we get excited and sometimes we cling to logic, like humans. Spotify should feel dynamic, like the culture itself. One way to look at this is that human experiences are intuitive and conversational. It's not human when things are too clever, too technical, or too functional.


It's about how our brand manifests itself in our features and apps.

Everything we design has the soothing look of Spotify. We strive for consistency between products to build familiarity and trust. That's why we follow our design system: we start with reuse instead of reinventing. We want our experiences to be reused and adjusted for consistency; Nobody should reinvent the wheel.

throw the principles

One is onlyWritePrinciples... another thing is to include everyone. If we wanted our new design principles to stick, we needed an implementation plan. Look how we did it.

  • To start, we did a test run of a workshop with a design team (yes, we love workshops). This allows us to spot any red flags, get a sense of whether the principles are useful, and analyze examples of good (and not-so-good) execution in the context of real work.

  • We then incorporate the principles into existing design activities, for example through presentations in Design from all hands and add them to our design playbook and new hire onboarding process.

  • A few months later we continued with a series of workshopsatDesign teams at Spotify. In this way, any designer can practice putting the principles into practice during a design critique.

Were these implementation efforts too big? Insufficient? Based on what we've done so far, two things stand out:

The more examples the better

It's easy to say that Spotify should feel "human" and "relevant," but how does that actually look? The examples were very helpful and we would have benefited from having more.

Don't forget the loot

In retrospect, the launch should have had more giveaways like posters, stickers, or other giveaways. It takes time to internalize new ideas and external reminders would have helped. In the absence of "official" earnings, a designer has made his own wallpaper! It was a success.

Working remotely made it difficult to organize physical giveaways, but we also started brainstorming ideas for banners and other fun things.

The result so far

What has changed after we implemented the Principles?

increased awareness

The good news is that most designers are familiar with Spotify by nowWetterdesign principles. A recent survey (conducted by our fabulousshaping operationsteam) points out that designers are relevant, human and uniformly aware and that they take these principles into account when designing. This suggests that the new principles are more applicable and easier to remember compared to the six principles we had previously.

A common language for design criticism

Designers (sometimes) refer to principles when reviewing their work, but there's room for improvement on that front. It still takes a conscious effort to refer to principles during criticism, but we hope that over time it will become second nature. We will continue to investigate this as part of our ongoing efforts to improve our design processes, tools and resources for designers.


When we started this project, we felt that in order to have useful conversations about quality, we needed a shared understanding of what it meant to design "the Spotify way". So our new policies had an impact on quality? It's too early to tell. But we hope that "relevant, human and consistent" expresses what we want to achieve with our products and that these principles serve as a constant reminder to do even better.

Special thanks to all our lead designers for their contribution to this work and Marina Posniak, Heiko Winter, Shamik Ray and Juli Sombat for this contribution.


Spotify design team

We are an interdisciplinary team of people who love creating great experiences and making meaningful connections between listeners and creators.

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