I want to know what the user's expectation is when he/she clicks on the play button of an album and it's position in the queue.

Rdio: If you press the play button – plays immediately. However, they also have a drop-down option to play later, which adds the album to the end of the queue.

Spotify: If you click play, it starts playing the album immediately. If you press add to queue, it inserts album after the song you are currently listening to and not at the end of the queue.

When you click play on an album, what do you expect to happen?

3 Answers 3


If the button says play, it should play immediately.

My expectation, whenever I hit play, regardless of it being an album or a single song, is that it should start playing immediately. If you want to add the album to a queue, you should have a separate button/option for adding to queue.

  • Jup. Clicking play should also clear the queue. Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 9:03
  • 1
    @KoenLageveen Is that true? When I've carefully constructed a play-list and accidentally click play, how will I get my play-list back? Undo?
    – Pesikar
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 9:09

If the user is presently listening music from a queue, selections should be appended to the queue. If the user is "sampling" music, it will be more helpful to have the system start new selections immediately. Rather than trying to come up with a perfect "one size fits all" behavior, it's often better to have a few modes to handle different usage cases. Icons and button labels in different modes should relate sensibly to each other, and should indicate what they will do in the present mode (e.g. in "sampling" mode, have a "play selection" button near the list of available must, and in "playlist" mode, have an "add to playlist" button in the same spot).


With the normal caveat of - it depends on how it is presented and the usage model of your application:

Play should play the track straight away. Or if it's an album then the user will expect the album to play.

If you have a play queue then if you pressed play on an album that appears at the top. How you handle the other tracks in the list is up to you. Getting the play queue right and understandable to the user is a tricky task that is hard to solve in a quick reply like this. I don't think any current app gets it right.

I would build several hypothesis aiming to solve the problem using different mental models then put them infront of real users in a 'almost real' looking prototype (giving yourself a time limitation to put it together to avoid effectively creating a real app).

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