Fender Tone App - Redesign

Redesign concept of Fender Tone iOS App.

Interaction Design | Visual Design [2017]

Design Brief

I've been playing guitar since I was 12 years old. Dreams and aspirations aside I've kept it up because I enjoy it and I find it to be relaxing. Unfortunately, when I moved to California about 9 years ago I left my awesome Fender DeVille amp at a friends house and wasn't able to get it before the movers came (shipping wasn't a good option). So, I've been without a decent amp ever since...

A couple of months ago I ran across a tech review of a new amp that Fender was just about to launch called the Fender Mustang GT. It's one of those digital amps that allows you to emulate just about any amp sound you want... AND it comes with an iOS app (called Fender Tone) that allows you to manage all of the presets. The review was pretty positive so I picked one up.

After getting it up and running I plugged in and started going through the presets while also getting familiar with the app. Sadly, I had some issues with the app. The first thing I noticed was that it wasn't as aesthetically interesting as their main site, Fender.com which uses a lot of nice images of their products and the people who use them. As we all know in UX, UX isn't just about the visual design, but it does play a big role. It helps with the visceral aspects of the overall UX and it helps provide users with appropriate affordances regarding what can be done. More importantly though, it had usability issues that were bothering me. I also had some ideas for additional features that I think were missing (could be road-map items for their development cycle of course). I thought I could satisfice and get over it, but I find myself continuing to do the same thing and then cursing that it works this way every time.

To explain this issue let me take a step back... the Fender Tone app allows users to see, manage and find new presets for your Mustang GT amp, the amp can store hundreds of presets which can be difficult to scroll through via the analog knob on the amp directly. Through the app you can browse, select, edit, create new, delete the presets and build groups of presets (called Set-lists). However, since an amp is an audio driven piece of hardware it seems like creation would be more of a secondary use case for the app which would primarily be done directly on the amp itself, while selection (e.g. send this preset to the amp so I can use it) is the primary one for the app.

That said, every time you tap a preset it assumes you want to do both, set and edit by bringing you to the detail view of the preset on the app. On the surface this might sound reasonable, but really, the amp, with all of its analog knobs is probably the best place to do any sort of sound editing because you can make an adjustment, play a bit to hear if it did what you'd hoped and adjust or save from there (no lag via the Bluetooth connected app either). I also found it lacking the ability to rearrange the presets order and while trying to delete presets it never actually delete them (obviously found a bug).

These aren't huge issues, but when an app has such a simple set of use cases I think it should do them as well as it possibly can. That said, I decided I'd spend some free time trying to fix it with a redesign. Below you'll find the result of that effort. I'd love to hear your thoughts so, please feel free to send me a comment.

InVision Prototype: Fender Tone - redesign

Design Concepts

Design Sketches

Visual Designs