GroupTones is a map-based social networking tool built to help today’s increasingly DIY music community. Viv Web Solutions worked with the Grouptones team to make the site user-friendly and to hit the right visual tone to attract musicians.
Dan Adler saw a fragmentation of the music community in Boston and wanted to make it more cohesive, so he started to build a social networking site that could better connect musicians, bar owners, and producers in cities all over the country. Adler had a unique idea that would make Grouptones fun, engaging and unique- this new site would be built on top of a map. This way you can identify not only musicians who were in your city, but around the block. With a talented developer, he started working on the site, but it was difficult to create a User Interface(UI) that was intuitive and would attract the targeted tech-savvy musician crowd. This is where Kalman Gacs of ViV was brought into the project.
Gacs had just reread many of the tomes of UI design for a presentation he made at the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT. (The Powerpoint will be available online soon). The challenge of creating a new paradigm for social-networking was a task that required discipline and a return to those principles. Gacs started with intense research—looking at the best elements of other map-based websites (for instance Redfin, Trulia, Zillow) and social-networking sites. Because no one had brought maps and social networking together the way Adler wanted to, Gacs had to find ways to mix and match these elements and break new ground. Gacs sketched out parts of the site and rigorously reworked them with Adler to make all the elements relate well to musicians.
In addition to designing a site that would be easy to use and understand, the site also needed to be aesthetically fresh, attractive and appropriate. Naturally, the site needed dark elements, as we associate music often with dark stages and clubs. At the same time, a color more hopeful than black helps the site feel more inclusive and friendly. A rich dark blue turned out to be the ideal. Social-networking sites can seem at first impersonal and cold, and a little depth and texture did a lot to make the site more relatable- we can relate to things we can touch. A logo had already been created for the site before, so it was refreshed and colors were chosen to match the site.
The site has just launched in September 2012 and is rapidly growing.