Just Isn't Music

Lead designer / front-end developer
April 2013

Just Isn’t Music is the licensing/publishing arm of independent UK record label, Ninja Tune. It is responsible for managing the use of their artists’ work in film, television, games, and other media channels.

Just Isn’t Music wanted to design and build a “search engine” that would help visitors discover the huge variety of music on their roster and simplify the process of making an enquiry.

Early-on in the design process we decided that search wasn’t the best mechanism to encourage discovery of the music on the platform. A user typically comes to a search engine knowing exactly what they want to find, but for our application a big empty white text box would would actually be a barrier to discovering new music. An interface that allowed exploration – one that helps the user to identify their specific requirements and make suggestions – would ultimately yield better results for the user and the company.

Their existing system (shown above) although rudimentary, proved to be a useful insight into how they sort and categorise the tracks internally. Essentially it’s a folder structure with labels that describe the music files inside – using genre, style, and mood as the primary descriptors.

This category-based system was limiting however because of the eclectic nature of music – what folder would a quirky chill-out track be placed in? We decided that tags rather than categories would allow more freedom to describe the music, and this new approach helped us realise that a filter-based search mechanism would be ideal for the application.

The dominating feature of the final user interface is the circular music player used to preview tracks.


  • Ben Stevens - Design & Front-end development
  • Dan London (Tedra) - Backend development

© 2020 Ben Stevens