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By Sam Stern

How Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” Could Have Had a Seamless User-Experience

If you haven’t heard Taylor Swift’s latest song “You Need to Calm Down” this critique may not make much sense. I’ll summarize…T-swift released it in the midst of LGBTQ Pride Month and included a call-to-action for users to sign her Change.org petition for Senate support of the Equality Act, which after only 4 days has almost hit its goal of 300K signatures. “The Equality Act, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” (CNN)

I want to be clear, I applaud her for leveraging her massive platform to promote LGBTQ rights. I recognize the risk for her here and appreciate that she boldly and unapologetically went in this direction. She herself “admitted that she’d been “reluctant” to express her political views in the past and credited a shift, due to several events in [her] life and in the world… [she feels] very differently about that now.” (CNN) I am proud she went here and I happily signed this petition.

The song is objectively engaging. It has over 21 million YouTube views and has been stuck in my head for the past 3 days. The creative direction can only be described as a unicorn of delight and the combined artistic talent of those featured is beyond impressive. I do however, think the user-experience is severely lacking. Corporate social activism requires a level of convenience that this experience did not deliver.

We have seen Taylor’s impact in October, 2018, when she famously directed her Instagram fans to register for the midterm elections. ”Vote.org counted 102,000 new registrations by people under 30 within the first 48 hours after Swift [posted].” (The Atlantic)

While her intentions are good with her latest release, I wish she made it easier for fans to directly sign the petition right from the YouTube video experience. I recognize that YouTube no longer allows annotations (clickable buttons inside the video) but there is a space for URLs in the description copy. The links that can be found there are links to purchase Taylor’s merch, her new album “Lover” and her social handles. I wish she included the change.org URL and positioned it front and center within the description copy.

While she does include an art card in the last :04 if the video, I wish she instead prioritized the message and placed it in the beginning of the video with the full Change.org URL listed out “https://www.change.org/p/support-the-equality-act”. Making these small tweaks would have highlighted the message and prioritized the call-to-action vs tucking it into the last 4 seconds and hoping the viewer has enough time to see it, remember it and then take action.

I’m glad she opted to feature the change.org URL over her album link in her Instagram bio and Twitter bio but disappointed she chose her album URL on Facebook.

Some might tell us that “we need to calm down” but we wanted to share these minor user-experience tweaks that can lead to major impact, especially on a behemoth of a platform such as Taylor’s. Did you notice anything else that could be optimized? Let us know!

By Sam Stern