UI/UX Design

Introducing a premium subscription to the Vinyl Mix app

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As the product designer, I was hired to solve a business case for a media startup that was transitioning from a freemium model to introducing a premium subscription for its iOS mobile app.


  1. Create the opportunity for new users to subscribe to the premium product during onboarding.
  2. Make the opportunity for existing free users to become paid subscribers within the product.

About the app

Vinyl Mix addresses the evolving digital music landscape by enabling direct interactions between artists and audiences, promoting independent music, and implementing non-traditional monetization strategies. The platform empowers users and DJs to explore, create, and share music in ways not supported by traditional media channels.

Target User 

  • 18 - 24 years old 
  • Very tech-savvy — they are on their phones for several hours a day
  • Very budget-conscious 

Company’s Brand 

  • Brand personality is uniquely diverse but somehow always familiar. This tension requires design to balance.
  • Brand attributes: Bold, smart

My approach

I developed a comprehensive project plan that included initial discovery to uncover background information on the industry, design trends, and typical user behavior. I then moved into wireframing to test out my hypotheses. Later, I used my findings to create high-fidelity screens and prototypes for user flows. This culminated in a usability test, during which I incorporated the learnings to update my design and create the final prototype, which you can view below.


My discovery process was based on several factors. Since this is a fictional music app, I conducted secondary research to determine if my idea for a music app aimed at DJs and creators was viable and whether its features justified a premium subscription. 

Another important element of the business goal is allowing existing users to sign up for a premium account, so I needed to understand the information architecture of other apps.

A traditional music app interface looks like this:

  • Home: your personalized feed of music
  • Search: quickly find what you're looking for
  • Discover: explore all the music categories
  • Library: access your saved music, playlists, and artists
  • Settings: manage your account, notifications, privacy and location settings, audio and video quality, downloads, history, and connected devices

User flows & Wireframing 

New user flow

I sketched out the two main user journeys to test early ideas for solving the business problem before creating detailed designs. For new users signing up, my aim was to ensure easy navigation and clearly communicate the value of a premium subscription. In my research, I found that offering a free monthly trial is a valuable incentive, but it should only be presented after introducing the premium paid version. I also made sure to include the Apple Pay option for easy payment.

Returning users

For the important goal of encouraging returning free users to become paid subscribers, I wanted to ensure that the new offering wasn't intrusive. Since the product would be restricting key features behind a paywall, I didn't want to risk losing users. I decided to take a more subtle approach by changing the account name to "premium" to encourage user's interest.

Style guide

Before transitioning to high-fidelity frames, I created a style guide that included brand colors, logo, font, and components designed in the wireframe. I opted for a dark background color for the app to ensure that album covers and artist profile images would stand out, rather than blending in. The choice of secondary colors, green and brown, was inspired by nature and the popular YouTube channel My Analog Journal, as I aimed for the app to be bold yet calming.

High-fi screens and prototype

When creating high-fidelity screens, my primary aim was to maintain visual appeal without overwhelming the user with excessive content.

New user onboarding flow 1/2
New user onboarding flow 2/2

With the main business goal of driving users to sign up for a premium subscription, I developed the new user onboarding process flow to offer users the choice to upgrade to a premium account. If they opt to remain on a free subscription, I provide a free month's trial. My approach aims to attract users who don't need a trial to subscribe to a premium account, capturing additional revenue.

Returning users

For returning users, I avoided using a pop-up to announce premium features. Instead, I changed the profile menu name to "premium" and used the profile image to pique interest in the change. 

Usability test highlights

I conducted usability tests with five music-loving users, using two high-fidelity prototypes. Below are key highlights and my proposed solutions.

New Users:

  • Issue 1: Users initially chose the non-premium option, then opted for the free trial.
  • Solution 1: Updated the heading to "Use premium" for clarity and modified the premium copy to be more compelling. 

Returning Users:

  • Issue 1: The premium pop-up obstructed the home screen. 
  • Solution 1: Removed the pop-up after the initial test to avoid interruption.
  • Issue 2: Returning users found the premium naming on the menu confusing. 
  • Solution 2: I changed the premium name to "Account" and introduced a banner for the premium offer with the option to close it.

Final updates

Following the usability test, I made updates to my solution and addressed a few technical issues.

Only updated screen post usability results

New user flow:

  • I revamped the premium screen copy to showcase the perks of subscribing, aiming to prompt more immediate sign-ups without offering a free monthly trial.
  • I updated the header to read, "Unlock the complete experience with premium" instead of "try premium."

Returning user flow:

  • Instead of expecting users to discover the premium account, I reintroduced the concept of a pop-up on the home screen but reframed it as a way to inform returning users about the new subscription model.
  • Additionally, I included an immediate offer for a free month of premium. This offers a sense of goodwill with existing users.


  • Introducing a new subscription model to an app that was once free requires careful communication and an attractive offer for existing users. It's a way to keep your current user base happy while also attracting premium users to the sales pipeline.
  • When solving a product problem in an established market like music apps, studying the leaders in the space can provide a wealth of knowledge. It's a low-cost research method and can help businesses move faster in creating more revenue.
  • In the realm of growth, there's a lot to be gained from usability tests. Small tweaks to the copy or changes in the flow can completely alter how a user reacts.

Check out the final prototypes!

New user

Returning user

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