ROLI
Blocks
A modular instrument for semi-pro creators.
It's an emergency.
We have a product to launch in 12 weeks.
HELP US!
THE BRIEF
"Help us to make this product work."
Roli came to us with a physical product in late stage design, but it relied on an app to work and make music. The rub? The holistic combination of block and app had yet to be fully considered.

Initially starting as a UX consultant, and later asked to take an active leadership role as UX Director, I helped the team accelerate through the problem and get the app and product into the stores in time for the Holidays.
What I did
"We believe NOISE plus BLOCKS is the most accessible and versatile music creation platform ever made."
Roland Lamb, Founder, CEO Roli Music
Ultimately as a team we helped Roli to bring their hardware concept to life - with a rigorous approach to crafting interaction.

My role was initially consultative, shaping the team's work from a distance that afforded perspective.

At the client's request I began to take a more hands on role, owning the UX for a variety of features.

I quickly got into my sweetspot, asking WHY, laddering features back into the big idea as a way to ruthlessly prioritise new features and shelter the client's internal tech team as they worked 100 hour weeks to bring this home.

I got as detailed as possible, as fast as possible. I helped our UX and Creative team to provide solid definitions and finished, well-annotated creative. The client's team could continue sprinting to the finish line with no need for questions and no uncertainties over edge cases to break their stride.
My Three Tracks of Work
Workflow Design
I worked the team to imagine how users could build up single sounds, create loops, then sequence and tweak tracks. Finally we needed to enable musicians to perform their creations live with all the realtime effects they could want.
Physical Block Logic
Blocks of different types can be snapped together like Lego, in any layout that users want. The UI needs to re-orient, adding or removing additional controls depending on how they come together. I mapped out the UI for all possible combinations.
Tuned Onboarding
Test, learn and iterate.
We discovered where users had trouble with UI or with concepts. Then we created ways to remove barriers, encourage exploration and teach the finer points of semi-pro track authoring.
Work Product
Things I made to help the others do their work, and to prove that our approach was sound.
Onboarding & Education
Making a complex experience feel easy to pick up hinges on carefully layering of cognitive load to build skills and understanding. We created a fully contextual intelligent coach to help you as you use the app - rising up when you struggle, and holding back to let you experiment and learn through play.
State Machine
The block is a state machine. I mapped out every state and what could follow it, to make sure that nothing had been missed, and we had the appropriate messaging and UI to reflect it.
Shaping play
The core of the app is an instrument, a sequencer and a bunch of other music making tools. It had to be fun to use. It had to be playful. It had to be responsive, both visually and sonically. Interaction design at its peak.
Usability testing
We wrapped up the prototype like a present and tested the end-to-end experience to find where users stumbled, and we created solutions for every single mis-step.
Reception
FEATURED IN THE APPLE STORE
Not only was this on the Apple Homepage as their featured buy for the holidays, but it appeared in their physical retail, as the only non-Apple products at that time, aside from Beats to have been granted space in their boutiques.