Musescore has just announced the latest version of Musescore 3, which includes work by Martin Keary (aka: Tantacrul), who joined the team as the Head of Design in November. He has been collaborating with the community and internal team on a design plan to make Musescore faster and more intuitive. This release is the first step towards that goal.
Musescore 3 features refinements that aim to improve first-time experience without disrupting the workflow of existing users. The most notable of these improvements is the new 'Palettes' menu, which allows users to edit and rearrange individual palettes (as well as hundreds of individual elements). This push towards increased customization allows users much greater freedom in determining their own workflow.
Another company's goal is to start making small ‘under the hood’ improvements to existing features in each release. In Musescore 3, enhancements have been made to the interface for applying accidentals so that it is more context-aware, providing nuanced options that speed up workflow.
The team has also made subtle changes to how notes can be placed on the score, allowing users to click directly on note durations to apply them without activating the ‘Note Input’ toggle first. This is a standard convention in most other notation apps and will potentially remove friction for new users as well as those migrating from other programs.
There have been multiple improvements to accessibility in Musescore 3, thanks to the contributors' community work, Peter Jonas and Marc Sabatella in particular. For the first time, the palettes panel has been made accessible to keyboard control. Navigation has been made easier too, requiring fewer keystrokes to find and add elements.
Accessibility has also been optimized in the Score View, where screen readers are now able to describe more elements while using fewer repeated words to do so. This will vastly improve the experience for users who are blind or visually impaired.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Musescore is now planning to build a comprehensive understanding of its audience by collecting more information on how the software is being used while increasing its commitment to 1:1 user-testing. By doing this, the company aims to target its redesign efforts on the most underperforming aspects of the application.
Speaking of the intricacies of design planning, Martin Keary said "We are acutely aware that our future plans have the ability to disrupt the experience of users who have spent time learning existing conventions in Musescore. Balancing the gain that new designs will bring against this potential disruption is one of the trickiest aspects of managing an app of Musescore’s complexity.
To help with this, we will often be releasing design videos as well as beta builds for users to digest so that we can minimize disruption as much as possible. We don’t believe in the ‘breaking eggs to make an omelette’ approach. We are much more interested in making gradual improvements and being as transparent and collaborative as possible."
Musescore is the most popular free music notation software in the world with more than 200.000 downloads per month powered by open source community. Over 20.000 unique scores are uploaded to musescore.com by professional and amateur composers every month to further increase the biggest online catalog of publicly available scores. The audience of the product is growing by 30% each year.