Introducing Spotify’s New Design Principles (2023)

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Spotify Design Team

Spotify has new design principles, and we're excited to share them with you! In this article, we'll look at how we distilled what's important to us, and how we’ve introduced the new principles to the team. Read on to see how we aim to make Spotify feel relevant, human, and unified.

Last year, a group of us got together to dig into a tricky 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 identified a key opportunity: To bump up quality, we need clear, useful design principles. Why principles? For one, we felt that we couldn't help teams assess if they were designing in "the Spotify way" unless we defined what the Spotify way even is—we needed some guidance. We also wanted to help designers speak the same language when discussing design goals and providing critique. An updated set of principles could offer some of this alignment.

Where we started

Spotify’s original design principles were from 2013, and at the time they did a lot to help shape a collective voice across design in the organization. Spotify is a Swedish-based company grounded in music; our previous principles reflected this. (Note the very Swedish concept of lagom!)

Now, in 2020, Spotify has changed quite a bit. We’ve grown into an audio first company and doubled down on podcasts; we create products for listeners, artists, and advertisers; and we went from a handful of designers to almost 200.

Looking at the existing principles, we asked ourselves: Do they still feel true to all of the things we design? Are designers at Spotify even aware of them? The answer

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We identified three problem areas:

  • Focused on consumer music experience: Spotify has grown, and the principles didn’t seem applicable to everything we design.

  • Overlapping concepts: Principles like “lagom” and “do less” were potentially overlapping, making them difficult to explain and use in assessing our work.

  • Difficult to remember: From our surveys and feedback from designers, we learned that there were just too many principles to keep track of. A smaller set would be easier to apply in practice.

In short, the old principles needed a refresh.

Crafting new design principles

Last year, the members of our working group—about a dozen product designers and UX writers—got together to tackle this in a collaborative workshop. The aim was to get contributions from everyone in the group, instead of having one person articulate “this is what Spotify design should be.”

We used three guiding questions to keep us focused:

  1. Why are we creating these design principles?

  2. Who are they for?

  3. How will they be used?

After some lively debate, we agreed that principles serve as a framework to create and evaluate work—they can help product designers make design decisions, and give us a shared language for design critiques. The real challenge was defining what the new principles should be. What kind of values and design attributes should we aspire to when designing? What should the product feel like?

All the ideas went into a giant matrix, and we dot-voted to help us narrow down.Based on this, we came up with a draft of the new principles, shared it with our design leadership team, and did some fine-tuning.

And voilà! Our new set of Spotify design principles were born.

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Let’s take a closer look:


It’s about reflecting you as an individual.

Spotify is made for you—we want it to feel personalized. To be relevant, we need to be thoughtful about what we present, to whom, and in what context. In simpler terms, it’s relevant when we present the right info 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 is rooted in technology. But it’s all about people. Sometimes we dial up the emotion, and sometimes we stick to logic—just like people do. Spotify should feel dynamic, like culture itself. A way to see this is that human experiences are intuitive and conversational. It’s not human when things are overly clever, technical, or overly functional.


It’s about how our brand manifests across our features and apps.

Everything we design looks and feels reassuringly Spotify. We aim for coherence across products as a way to build familiarity and trust. That’s why we follow our design system—we start by reusing rather than reinventing. We want our experiences to reuse and adapt for consistency; nobody should be reinventing the wheel.

Rolling out the principles

It’s one thing to just write’s another thing entirely to get everyone on board. If we wanted our new design principles to stick, we needed a roll-out plan. Here’s how we went about it.

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

  • We then incorporated the principles into existing design activities—for example, by presenting at design all-hands and adding them to our design handbook and new hire onboarding process.

  • A few months later, we followed up with a series of workshops with all design teams across Spotify. This way, every designer could practice putting the principles in action during a design critique.

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Were these roll-out efforts too much? Not enough? 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 what does that actually look like? The examples were super useful, and we would have benefited from having even more.

Don’t forget the swag

Looking back, the rollout should have had more swag, like posters, stickers, or other goodies. It takes time to internalize new ideas, and external reminders would have helped. In the absence of “official” swag, one designer made his own wallpaper! It was a hit.

Remote work has made it tricky to organize physical swag, but we’ve started on ideas for posters and other fun stuff, too.

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The outcome so far

Now that we’ve rolled out the principles, what’s changed?

Increased awareness

The good news is that most designers are now aware that Spotify has design principles. A recent survey (run by our fab design ops team) indicates that yes, designers know about Relevant, Human, and Unified, and that they consider these principles when designing. This suggests the new principles are more applicable and easier to remember, compared to the six principles we had before.

A shared language for design critique

Designers are (sometimes) referring to the principles when reviewing work, but there’s room for improvement on this front. It still takes some conscious effort to refer to the principles during critique, but over time we’re hoping it becomes more second nature. We’ll continue looking into this as part of ongoing efforts to improve our design processes, tools, and resources for designers.


When we started this project, our hunch was that in order to have useful conversations about quality, we needed a shared understanding of what it meant to design “in the Spotify way.” So have our new principles impacted quality? It’s too soon to say. But we hope that “relevant, human, and unified” convey what we aspire to achieve in our products—and that these principles serve as constant reminders to do better.

Special shout-out to all our Principal-level designers for contributing to this work, and to Marina Posniak, Heiko Winter, Shamik Ray, and Juli Sombat for this post.


Spotify Design Team

We're a cross-disciplinary team of people who love to create great experiences and make meaningful connections between listeners and creators.

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Why Spotify is a good design? ›

By using size, color, positioning, and alignment of various elements, Spotify promotes a good visual hierarchy that communicates what the users should be paying attention to first. By doing this, users can quickly digest and orient themselves within the app experience.

How do I get the new Spotify design? ›

The most important thing is to understand its features and know how to use them when you do Spotify app redesign.
How to Redesign Spotify
  1. Step 1: Initiate a new project. ...
  2. Step 2: Start Spotify Redesign. ...
  3. Step 3: Design Interaction. ...
  4. Step 4: Preview Spotify redesign.
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What are the principles of design for most design projects? ›

There are twelve basic principles of design: contrast, balance, emphasis, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, pattern, white space, movement, variety, and unity. These principles work together to create visually appealing and functional designs that make sense to users.

What are the 5 design principles? ›

Summary: The principles of scale, visual hierarchy, balance, contrast, and Gestalt not only create beautiful designs, but also increase usability when applied correctly.

What are the unique features of Spotify? ›

  • Audio Features & Analysis.
  • Playback.
  • Recommendations.
  • Search.
  • Playlists.
  • Metadata.
  • Curated Content.
  • User Taste.

What are the challenges faced by Spotify? ›

What challenges may hinder Spotify's growth? Over the past few years, a widely highlighted problem facing Spotify is “allegations for unfair artists compensation”. This problem stems from the lower end of the spectrum, as niche artists are the “grassroots referendum on the music industry”.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Spotify? ›

The strengths of Spotify include its ability to innovate and its current financial flexibility, while its weaknesses include its current music licensing deals with music rights holders. Spotify is a global audio streaming company that provides users access to a library of over 70 million songs and 2 million podcasts.

Why did Spotify change its layout 2022? ›

Spotify recently changed the Home page design on the Android and iOS app that allows users to expand into their recommendations. The new Home screen of Spotify's mobile app now has two sections namely 'Music' and 'Podcast & Shows'. The update also adds new buttons to quickly share, like, and play music.

Why has Spotify changed 2022? ›

In March 2022, the audio streaming service introduced two new updates to Blend. While the first one enabled users to 'blend' with up to 10 of their favourite people in a group, the second update allowed them to do so with some of their preferred artists.

How do you get the 2022 wrap on Spotify? ›

Open your Spotify app and go to Your Library. You should see a card for your 2022 Spotify Wrapped. If not, go to on a mobile browser. It will redirect you to your Wrapped 2022.

What is the main purpose of the principles of design? ›

The elements, or principles, of visual design include Contrast, Balance, Emphasis, Movement, White Space, Proportion, Hierarchy, Repetition, Rhythm, Pattern, Unity, and Variety. These principles of design work together to create something that is aesthetically pleasing and optimizes the user experience.

What is design principles and why it is important? ›

Design principles help to keep important values front and center in the design process. When successfully composed and used, design principles ensure consistency in decision making across designers and teams, removing the need to debate simple tradeoffs and letting designers worry about complex problems.

Which principle of design is most important? ›

Alignment is one of the most important design principles. It helps ensure a sharp, ordered appearance for ultimately better designs by ensuring your various elements of design have a pleasing connection with each other.

What are the 2 most important principles of design? ›

The fundamental principles of design are: Emphasis, Balance and Alignment, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Movement and White Space. Design differs from art in that it has to have a purpose.

What are the big 4 design principles? ›

Effective design centres on four basic principles: contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity. These appear in every design.

What are the 10 basic principles of design? ›

There are 10 principles of design in total! They're also known as the elements of visual design, and are: movement, balance, contrast, proportion, repetition, rhythm, variety, emphasis, harmony, and unity.

What is meant by design principles? ›

What are design principles? Design principles are a set of values that act as a compass for your product. They're an agreed upon truth: the guideposts that keep your entire team on the same path as you move through the design process. Design principles should be specific, nuanced, and actionable.

What are the 8 principles of design with examples? ›

The eight principles of design every designer should know
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  • Hierarchy. Hierarchy means putting your design's most important message or purpose front and center. ...
  • Contrast. ...
  • Repetition. ...
  • Proximity. ...
  • Balance. ...
  • Color. ...
  • Space.

How do you create design principles? ›

9 tips for establishing solid design principles
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  2. Be inspired. ...
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What are the core values of Spotify? ›

Our encore
  • Values. are innovative, sincere, passionate, collaborative and playful.
  • Culture. is informed and influenced by every member of the Spotify Band.
  • Change. is our constant.
  • Growth. is our mantra.
  • Audio is global. and Spotify should be too.
  • Ideas drive us. not bureaucracy.

What is the main purpose of Spotify? ›

Spotify is a digital music, podcast, and video service that gives you access to millions of songs and other content from creators all over the world. Basic functions such as playing music are totally free, but you can also choose to upgrade to Spotify Premium.

What is Spotify features and benefits? ›

Spotify's Premium tier gives you access to everything but doesn't force adverts - whether you're listening on desktop, mobile, or tablet. Premium users can play any song they want (on demand), as well as find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, plus share music and playlists.

What is Spotify's business problem? ›

After years of growth, Spotify faced a dilemma. The company had over 100 million paying subscribers, but it was still losing money. It wasn't “making it up on volume,” so to turn a profit, it needed a way to lower its cost of production.

What impact does Spotify have on society? ›

Streaming revenue is bringing real scale to the music industries of emerging markets, making it increasingly possible to pursue a professional career as an artist in countries around the world. In 2021, Spotify launched in 80+ markets, introducing these artists to new fans in places all over the world.

What are the main successes of Spotify? ›

Number of Spotify premium subscribers worldwide from 2015 to 2022. Spotify's first big success lies in the extensive user account customization that has been made possible since the very first day. Spotify encourages users to create their own playlists, essentially building an entire library of music on their accounts.

What makes Spotify different from its competitors? ›

One key offering by Spotify is to provide users with machine-generated playlists like Discover Weekly, a personalized playlist with weekly updates. This allows Spotify to differentiate itself, as users who are attracted to these auto-generated playlists choose Spotify over Apple, Amazon, and Google.

What are principles of design in music? ›

The principles of design are how those building blocks are arranged: contrast, rhythm, proportion, balance, unity, emphasis, movement, and variety.

What principles of design were used by the artist? ›

The seven principles of art and design are balance, rhythm, pattern, emphasis, contrast, unity, and movement. The elements of art and design are line, shape/form, space, value, color, and texture. The elements of art and design are the tools of visual artists.

What is the architecture of Spotify? ›

There are basically two types of software architecture that companies usually rely on: Monolithic Architecture and Microservices. Spotify is based entirely on Microservices architecture, which has been confirmed and explained by Kevin Goldsmith, who was the former CTO at Spotify.

What are the principles of audio design? ›

The four principles pertain to selection of the narrative format, the fleeting nature of spoken words, the environmental soundscape, and the difference between listening and hearing. These four principles are relevant to designers seeking to use only sound (audio) for instructional delivery.

What is a design principle example? ›

Designers use principles such as visibility, findability and learnability to address basic human behaviors. We use some design principles to guide actions. Perceived affordances such as buttons are an example. That way, we put users in control of seamless experiences.

What is the most important principle of design? ›

Hierarchy. One of the most important principles in design, hierarchy is a way to visually rank your design elements. Hierarchy is not based on a design styles, but rather the order of importance. A good design leads the eye through each area in priority order.

Why is it that an artist must make use of the different principles? ›

In any work of art there is a thought process for the arrangement and use of the elements of design. The artist who works with the principles of good composition will create a more interesting piece; it will be arranged to show a pleasing rhythm and movement.

What challenges did Spotify face? ›

What challenges may hinder Spotify's growth? Over the past few years, a widely highlighted problem facing Spotify is “allegations for unfair artists compensation”. This problem stems from the lower end of the spectrum, as niche artists are the “grassroots referendum on the music industry”.

What are 3 of the 5 principles of design? ›

What are the principles of design?
  • Balance.
  • Alignment.
  • Proximity.
  • Repetition.
  • Contrast.
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What are the 4 elements of sound design? ›

Since sound is a wave, it has all of the properties attributed to any wave, and these attributes are the four elements that define any and all sounds. They are the frequency, amplitude, wave form and duration, or in musical terms, pitch, dynamic, timbre (tone color), and duration.


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