The Problem with Pandora

Album Cover: The Future

"The maestro says it's Mozart, but it sounds like bubble gum."
Leonard Cohen / Waiting For The Miracle

Posted on April 23, 2008 11:44 PM in Web Design
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

The problem with Pandora is that its design completely sucks! I'm not a fan of Flash-based web design as it is, but their interface takes the cake. It looks like something I could design in Flash, and that's bad!

The design is so bad that I wouldn't be surprised if former designers were behind it (and we all know how I feel about them). Normally, I might not make such a stink about it, but it really is a shame that the design is so poor, because the Pandora service is really, really useful. It's been over a year since I last used the service, but in testing it out again tonight, I see that's it's just as useful as I remember. It definitely provides a more proactive approach to finding new artists in which one might be interested, whereas services like can be a bit more retroactive (you only find out what else you might be interested in once you've been listening to a lot of your own interests for a while).

If you haven't given Pandora a try, I'd highly recommend it for the service it provides, as long as you can stomach the design. And if you're on the design team at Pandora, all I can offer is an Ice Cube lyric: "check yo self before you wreck yo self."


Zim on April 24, 2008 at 6:28 AM:

I was user of Pandora till 5/2/07, when I received a mail saying they were cutting off the service for people outside the US.
Back there, I tried doing something like some applications do now to show pandora in it's own window.
I liked, at least then, the simple design of the player. Yes, probably it could be better, but it was good enough to let me listen and interact with Pandora.
Recently (last month, maybe?) I tried using proxies, weird applications, and other "tricks" to override the IP blocking, but I failed.
I still can browse what I liked (or not) and read similar artists searching for individual songs. But it's not the same.
The key with pandora is the service, the design is secondary! (IMHO)


Bernie Zimmermann on April 24, 2008 at 8:10 AM:

Zim, first off, that sucks that they cut you off being outside the U.S.. I don't know if you've tried it already, but people seem to be having some success with this set of instructions, even as of a few days ago.

As for the service being more important than the design, I certainly agree. However, in general, would you rather be driving around a Porsche with a Porsche engine in it, or a Chevy Citation with a Porsche engine in it?


Lucia @ Pandora on April 25, 2008 at 11:19 AM:

Hi Bernie -

Lucia, from Pandora, here.

I found your blog post via a Google search; I hope you don't mind me leaving a quick comment.

Sorry you don't like our design, but I'm really glad you enjoy our service and find it useful! We're always open to feedback, so keep in touch. : )

Zim - We really wish Pandora was legal in countries outside the U.S., and we still hope to get it all straightened out in the future. Being a truly global service is a priority for us.

Thanks for the feedback!

- Lucia, from Pandora


Bernie Zimmermann on April 25, 2008 at 6:18 PM:

Thanks for dropping by, Lucia. It always encourages me when companies and/or services are actively monitoring the feedback they receive online, good or bad, because it shows they are dedicated to making things better for their users in the long run.

I definitely feel that a less-Flash-based design would be a huge improvement for what is otherwise a great service. And I apologize if I offended any former designers that may now be employed by your company ;)


cvcyfkyo on May 15, 2017 at 5:22 AM:

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