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.

JIM Search -

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.

Just Isn't Music - Z-misc shite category didn’t make it into the final application
Z-misc shite category didn’t make it into the final application

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.

Just Ins't Music - Track description tags allow search by filtering
Track description tags allow search by filtering
Just Isn't Music - Early UI designs and evolution
Early UI designs and evolution

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

Just Isn't Music - Music player components
Music player components


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