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What is Ostinato?

Ostinato is designed to help music learners feel encouraged, supported and motivated on their musical journeys. It's an app for learning, practising and mastering any instrument with help from an AI tutor, who provides personalised feedback on your playing, supports notation and audio input, and adapts to your playing style. With curated content and a vibrant community, users can continually discover, learn and grow.

Ostinato is a mobile application optimised for tablet screens for anyone with an interest in music and a willingness to learn, regardless of age, skill level, or any other factors. While this might seem broad, the reality is that music learners come in many forms, each with their own unique needs and frustrations. My goal has been to create a space where all music learners can thrive.

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It's a Process...

Designing Ostinato has been a long, continuously iterative process. For me, there was no clean finish at the end of each idyllic design phase, instead I had to manage working on different phases concurrently in order to fine tune every aspect.

I first had to understand the different needs and frustrations of music learners, which I primarily achieved through conducting a survey using Google Forms. This received over 100 insightful responses that have been invaluable throughout this project, guiding my decisions from feature inclusion to visual design. I used the data from my survey to identify the main archetypes of learning and created empathy maps, user personas and user journeys for each. I also analysed competitors; their strengths, weaknesses, and how Ostinato could do better. With these insights, I identified features of the app and organised them through card sorting to determine the best interface layout. Then I created user flows to map out the step-by-step interactions users would have with the app, ensuring a seamless and intuitive user experience.

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Getting the branding right involved a lot of iterating and experimenting, which took time, but I think that being so particular is ultimately what led to the best outcome. 'Ostinato' emerged as the name due to its resonance with the core purpose of the app. It's a musical term for a short melodic phrase, recurring often throughout a composition. The Ostinato app reflects this by striving to make music a consistent and persistent part of people's lives, even in small increments. At one stage, while drawing inspiration from punk design and its 'anyone can do it' ideology for the branding, I inadvertently obscured Ostinato's true purpose by leaning a bit too heavily into the aesthetic. However, through iterative refinement, I struck a balance, retaining elements of punk design while infusing the brand with its own personality.

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Designing the UI for my prototype involved a lot of back-and-forth between, finding inspiration, sketching, and prototyping. Rhythm games and learning management systems (LMS) influenced many aspects of the UI design. I also drew inspiration from other different apps and platforms where relevant. I iteratively sketched out ideas based on my user flows until I was satisfied. Then I moved to Figma. Initially, I created low-fidelity mock-ups, but as I refined the branding, I started assembling a component library. This allowed me to swiftly produce high-fidelity screens with greater consistency.

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As a musician myself, Ostinato is something I myself would use, so I had to remain vigilant to ensure that my personal preferences did not cloud my judgments on usability.To help mitigate this, I actively sought constructive feedback from weekly tutorials, fellow designers, developers and potential users. I also conducted usability testing with individuals of varying levels of musical proficiency. These insights helped me identify and address issues, leading to significant improvements in my design work.

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The Outcome

Ostinato has been a labour of passion, perseverance and creativity—a testament to my love for music and design. My goal was to design something that would break down barriers, empower musicians of all levels to pursue music with joy and confidence , while fostering a sense of community and connection, ultimately making people's lives more musical. Despite challenges along the way, each obstacle was an opportunity to learn, adapt, innovate and grow as a designer. Through research, seeking feedback, usability testing and embracing an iterative design process, Ostinato has become something that I am sincerely proud of.

That said, there is still so much more I could do. This is just the first movement of Ostinato, there's so much more of this symphony yet to be played. I have grown fervently passionate about this project and would love to do more with it in future, exploring more features and functionality, adding sound and improving visual aspects, testing it more thoroughly and potentially bringing it beyond just a prototype.

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