Case Study



Following the design process

Product | Soundtrap, a browser based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

Task | Add a feature to Soundtrap

Team Size | One

Role | Product Designer (UX/UI)

Timeline | Three weeks

Project Background | Soundtrap is a browser based DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) by Spotify, with a partner ios app, Soundtrap Capture, built for music creation and cloud based collaboration. Although Soundtrap sits in a unique space with its collaborative and browser based elements, user expectations are increasing, with apparent demand for functionality that more closely resembles PC/Mac based DAWs such as FL Studio, Logic, and Pro Tools. In this hot market, what is an additional feature that can keep existing users, and pull in new users?

Design Process















Competitor Analysis

How might we



Lo fi sketching

Plugin store landing page

Payment screen

Effect popup

Flow - access store, purchase instrument, add to studio

Effect/instrument page

User Research

Research Synthesis

Feature Log

Bandlab provides much of the functionality of Soundtrap Free, with some extras. These extra features might impact user retention within Soundtrap and risk users shifting to Bandlab. Bandlab (free) also competes with Soundtrap Premium at 9.99 p/m and Soundtrap Supreme at 14.99 p/m, meaning Soundtrap relies on existing users staying with them (Sunk cost fallacy), reliance on Soundtrap instruments and effects, or strong community and collaboration.

Soundation is not a consideration with its free version, however paid versions, particularly Creator, compete strongly.

Amped Studio has less collaborative support and community, however the ability to use 3rd party plugins, and

the browser base puts it in contention.

Soundtrap may benefit from differentiating itself from Bandlab, and improving upon the comparable experience for users.

Sunk cost fallacy

Key takeaways

Users interviews were carried out both with Soundtrap users and music producers who used other DAWs. Additionally , the Soundtrap feature request forum was evaluated, as were Soundtrap specific groups on Reddit. These findings were affinity mapped and summarised.

Users provided feedback based on their expectations, the experience within the Soundtrap platform, and based on their comparative experiences with other DAW’s. The feedback shares more consistencies than contradictions, making a feature roadmap possible to build with some confidence of additional feature’s effectiveness in retaining users, gaining new users (new to music production), and bringing users of other DAWs across to Soundtrap.

One prominent issue that has arisen consistently is the shifting paywall of Soundtrap. Users are feeling frustrated that functionality which was free, is now behind paid subscriptions. Without knowing the revenue structure and business plan of Soundtrap, it is difficult to recommend changes, given some seemingly basic fixes have been skipped, assumably for a reason, behind the scenes. Based off the feedback from current users, the user vs business aspirations do seem to be misaligned at this point.

Recommendations for features from users include the ability to disrupt the paywall by way of purchases of specific sounds and functions, and using their own instruments, without a full subscription upgrade, which may keep users from shifting to other free platforms such as Bandlab, and introduce gifting as a revenue stream.

Key takeaways:

Soundtrap is often seen as an entry level DAW for beginners.

Soundtrap is enjoyed for affordability for beginner engineers and producers who may not be able to afford expensive DAWs and equipment.

Soundtrap Free has been well regarded, however regular changes are frustrating users

Soundtrap’s community is viewed positively, with some frustrations building as functionality shifts.

The collaborative features of Soundtrap are praised, but the inability to use 3rd party plugins and existing sound kits is seen as a limitation.

User flows and task flows have been built to visualise a basic process for purchasing/adding new instruments and effects to libraries and songs of users.

There is the opportunity for the flows to take into consideration existing UI and patterns used within the Soundtrap Platform, building upon current flows and adding the ability to purchase or rent individual effects, which is currently not available. Users can see effects and instruments that they do not have, leading to prompts to upgrade account for access.

The store has adopted the existing flows of instrument and effects selection, meaning instrument and effect flows are different, albeit slightly.

Adding powerful functionality within existing patterns should retain user familiarity and reduce friction for the use of this new feature.

the phenomenon whereby a person is reluctant to abandon a strategy or course of action because they have invested heavily in it, even when it is clear that abandonment would be more beneficial.

Research Objectives:

Understand the existing Soundtrap product and its features.

Gain insights into the target audience and establish user personas.

Define the problem statement based on user needs and expectations.

Identify potential features that would benefit current and potential Soundtrap users.

Determine how the proposed feature will benefit both the users and the company.

Reduce paywall friction between users and the company?

Introduce 3rd party instruments & effects to the Soundtrap toolkit?

Empower users with a broader range of effects within Soundtrap?

Establishing the problem

Regular shifts to the Soundtrap Free offering are frustrating users.

Users expect support for third party plugins.

Users are not recommending Soundtrap to those who are not beginners.

Direct competitors, particularly Bandlab, are offering a cheaper service across many comparison points.

Top subscription costs are comparable with more powerful, feature rich DAWs.

Soundtrap’s collaborative features are praised, but the inability to use 3rd party plugins and previously available sound kits is seen as a limitation.


“Foundation user”

“Swing user”


Plugin store

Chart topping effects.

Game changing instruments.

Now in your workflow.


Introducing the Soundtrap Plugin Store. Allowing users to rent or purchase outright 3rd party plugins (effects and instruments), and incorporate these into their Soundtrap projects. Introductory store items are the iconic TB-303 Synthesizer and Juno-60 Chorus by Roland. Eventual features will allow rent-to-own and importing pre owned plugins.

This feature is something that both the community of users as well as music producers who are not yet Soundtrap users have been calling for, and it shows users are being heard.

This case study follows the Double Diamond Design Process that discovers and defines a problem, then develops and delivers a solution.

Based on the research, I was able to put together a full feature log, build user personas, and develop How Might We questions in order to start building a new feature.

User Personas

Feature Roadmap

Feature: Plugin Store

From our research we have established a vision for the next feature to add to Soundtrap. In order to satisfy current users,

and welcome in new users, the plan is to introduce a broader range of instruments and effects.

The prioritization of this feature is due to the high demand and achievable cost, and an expectation of high impact.

Other features that performed highly were not selected due to either being very simple fixes with minimal design required,

or features that are likely as they are from head office vision and decisions, such as autosave.

Build: Soundtrap Plugin Store

Phase One: allow users to rent Soundtrap instruments and effects beyond the paywall of their set subscription model, accessed from Studio.

Phase Two: allow users to buy Soundtrap instuments and effects beyond the paywall of their set subscription model, accessed from Studio..

Phase Three: allow users to rent-to-buy Soundtrap instruments and effects beyond the paywall of their set subscription model, accessed from Studio..

Phase Four: add 3rd party instruments and effects to the Soundtrap Store for rent, purchase, or rent-to-purchase, accessed from Studio..

Phase Five: allow users to use compatible plugins they already own, purchased from the plugin creators, accessed from Studio.

Phase Six: introduce access to store from user Dashboard.



Instrument interface:

First iteration was to try fitting the synthesizer into the existing UI. The plugin’s complexity made this difficult - keeping within existing parameters would hinder accessibility, functionality, and possible integrity of the original plugin, which are often replicas of world famous hardware such as the Roland TB-303.

To maintain functionality of the instrument, the plugin was built outside of the standard soundtrap instrument housing, yet still incorporating base menu items using current UI, such as instrument selection and menu.

Effect interface:

Chosen effect Roland Juno-60 Chorus has a simple interface which was able to be designed and incorporated within Soundtrap’s existing effect rack and effect

size parameters, with the exception of width. As more complex effects are introduced, effects may need to break out of the rack for accessibility and functionality purposes.

Usability test: full prototype

Participants: 4

Key takeaways:

User feedback:

new feature slightly hidden.

new feature not immediately apparent as new.

new feature so embedded and familiar that it could be missed.

like full functionality and large display of instrument.

more information of terms & conditions of purchase/rent.

are other payment options available

option to use loaded payment details as current paid user

terms inconsistent, sometimes ‘purchase’ sometimes ‘buy’

Users tried to:

drag effect around page and out of effect rack

change option rent/purchase in payment page (rather than exit to change)

click effect to enlarge or bring out of effect rack

Iterations to carry out:

allow shift between rent and purchase within payment screens

streamline language purchase/buy

highlight new instrument/effect within UI

Iterations for consideration:

option to use existing pay details.

agreement checkbox and link to T&Cs

alternative payment options such as Paypal, Apple Pay.

enlarge effects out of effects rack.

Soundtrap’s interface was fully built out using Figma, and each flow was prototyped for testing and delivery. The full user flow was then build in one prototype allowing users to access the store, rent or purchase an effect or instrument, and add this to the their track within the Soundtrap Studio. Using newly introduced functionality in Figma, the protoype was built to

fully work in both light and dark mode.

Using Figma variables, Soundtrap’s color system was built out, allowing for every screen to be available in light mode and dark mode, accurate to the performance within Soundtrap.

Bringing a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to life within Figma was an exciting challenge. Given it is all about audio, wouldn’t some audio within the prototype be nice? Audio examples can be played back at the beginning and end of the prototype - including hearing the difference between the chorus effect on and off. The sound of the TB-303? That’s the real sound of the TB-303 that I programmed and recorded. To give a visual playback experience, the playbar moves across the screen using variables and conditional prototyping in Figma.

Building each interface

Building product page

Prototyping the flows

Light | Dark Mode

Final flows


Audio and visual playback.

Usability test results

Plugin store


My Collection


Bass & 808s




Drums & Machines

Voice & Mic

Guitar & Bass Amps


Bass - Synth

Bass - Electric

Bass - Acoustic

Bass - Synth


80s Synth Bass

Acid Bass


Start free Premium trial

Attack Bass

Start free Premium trial

The Labsynth

Start free Premium trial

Roland TB-303

Rent or buy


Rent or buy

Minimoog Model D

Rent or buy



The JUNO-60 Chorus delivers the elegant simplicity of the original effect in a genuine Roland plug-in for Soundtrap. Each of the three chorus modes is modeled in meticulous detail, complete with variable analog noise for the full retro experience. The vintage JUNO vibe is carried on further with graphics that reflect the synth’s iconic panel and oh-so-cool wood side panels.

Juno-60 Chorus


per month



to own




Low Cut

High Cut



Juno-60 Chorus

Add effect




Piano Roll





Piano Roll


Instrument Interface: TB-303 edit off, light mode

Soundtrap Instrument Interface: limited real estate to maintain plugin functionality.

Instrument Interface: TB-303 edit on, dark mode

Newly designed Juno-60 Chorus blending into existing effects rack alongside Soundtrap Crusher effect.

video / gif light and dark

image /vid of cursor moving and audio


This project provided multiple insights into the design process, and the broad application of processes mixed with the constraints of

industries and technologies. I worked on a Digital Audio Workstation to expand my skillset both in research and design tools - my Figma proficiency has improved markedly and I tried to implement new functionality within Figma as it was released. I also chose it as I am passionate about music and music production, so it was fulfilling to work on something like this, and chat to users who were all music producers themselves. I am super proud of the final result, particularly the functional prototypes using colour modes and up to the minute techniques. Key takeaways are knowing when to deep dive, and when to keep things moving. I look forward to more work in this field.