7 ways Clubhouse could be better: From a listener point of view

I think Clubhouse is beyond their great marketing, but their UX needs some work.

I have been a member of Clubhouse, the newest silicon valley buzz, for more than three weeks now and I genuinely think the application is as great as their strategic marketing made it seem.

This invite-only audio-chat application has easily become a part of my daily routine — and it’s been insightful!

Not only viral because of their exclusivity, I think the app is powerful in a way that it provides an ‘inclusive discussion table’ for their members too. People from various backgrounds and interests could gather around over a discussion — in a casual phone call manner.

Genuine sighs and gasps, speakers rambling, or even experiencing the chance to have direct interaction with influential minds such as Elon Musk, or a random stranger across the globe who’s passionate over the same topic as you — I think these are Clubhouse’s unique value: To break down limitations that are encouraged by media politics, as well as to embrace the human side of conversations that are often dismissed post-production.

Clubhouse breaks barriers. I can see how the platform accommodate people to be involved in discourses outside their bubble and isn’t that what humanity needs right now?

To understand each other further?

From a user experience standpoint, I think this app is very intuitive. And we can’t simply ignore the cheeky ‘leave quietly’ button!

Clubhouse ‘Leave quietly’ button.

But as much as I adore Clubhouse as a concept, I can’t help but find many rooms for improvements. I think they could ‘humanize’ their overall user experience & enhance their accessibility even more. Here are some ideas:

Disclaimer: I don’t work for Clubhouse, therefore I don’t know their business goals and user data. Ideally, I would do a redesign based on these two aspects, but for now, this case is meant to be exploratory and is based simply on observation as a user. Cheers!

1. Sometimes we just want to listen.

As I’m more of a listener than a speaker on the platform, sometimes I put on discussions as background noise while I’m doing other activities.

There was a time where I joined an intimate room with 14 people in it, and one of the speakers asked me to ‘go up on the stage’ and share what I thought about the current topic.

I was taking a shower (Yes, I bring my phone to the bathroom).

It was simply painful, and I wish there was a feature that could inform everyone in the room — that I’m only there to listen.

This also highlights an accessibility problem, where I imagine people with speech impairments had to go through the experience that I had.

Solution: Have a ‘Listening only’ option, where users can inform everyone in the room that they will only be there to listen.

I’ve made a quick mockup of it:

A closer look:

2. More reactions, more engagements?

There are massive rooms filled with 2.3k listeners on Clubhouse, but there are also more intimate rooms with 5–10 people. In this case, it’s awkward to go in and out of a room without salutations. On good days I might ‘raise my hand’ and eventually join as one of the speakers. Other times? I’m too lazy to talk.

Imagine walking into a room in real life, where your friends are talking, and you’re just sitting there in the corner, and leave eventually — in silent. Again, it’s painful, and the whole experience can be more humanized.

There were also times where I wondered how other listeners perceive the discussion in the room. Are they feeling the same way that I do?
Currently, Clubhouse allows listeners to speak by ‘going up on the stage’ (if granted by a moderator) by ‘raising hands’, but it is infeasible to allow every listener to speak.

Solution: I think the ability to add quick reactions would serve.

A closer look:

With 8 curated emojis as reactions (Waving hand, 100, Laughing, Heart eyes, Confetti, Fire, Clapping hands, Crying) users would be able to give greetings or express their feelings throughout the discussion.

Not only encouraging a more human two-way form of communication, but I think this also may increase engagements and encourage users to stay on the app (by expressing their own reactions or observing other people’s reactions in the room).

This way, speakers would also gain the ability to ‘read the room’, leaving them with potentially more insights.

3. Seriously, who’s speaking?

On the current design, it’s kind of hard to know who is talking, especially when the room includes so many speakers. Indication is very minimal, and I think this is where visual hierarchy matters.

Giving visual hierarchy to the current speakers.

Solution: As per my observation, it is unlikely for more than three speakers to talk simultaneously in a span of a topic. So, I think giving a more obvious visual indication of three current active speakers would be helpful for users to know who’s currently talking. I also did a minor relayout of how users could hover over other listeners’ profiles in the room while not disrupting the ‘stage area’.

4. What topic are we on?

There are times where I joined a room halfway through a discussion, and often the topic of the ongoing conversation is so far from the title of the room.

This often leads to me leaving the room, because:

  1. I had no idea what’s going on.
  2. After 1 minute of staying in the room, I still don’t get what they’re talking about, and how was Linda’s Persian cat related in any way to ‘Investing for Dummies’? Please, guide me.

On most days, I would just close the app altogether because there were no other open rooms I’m interested in joining either.

I have observed that many people also joined rooms for less than 7 seconds, and went out immediately. I’m not sure if my experience is their case, but I’m confident I’m not alone on this one.

Solution: I think adding a ‘Topic card’ (which only moderators can change) would help users catch up on the train if the topic has gone too far from the title. This may also help refocusing speakers on topics they’re talking about. Not to mention, retaining users on the app is highly beneficial for a product business.

A closer look:

5. I don’t want people to know what I’m listening to at 3 a.m, please.

Sometimes, I want privacy.

I don’t want my followings to know that I’m in a room called ‘Super Saiyan Scream Room’ at 3 a.m, regardless of how awesome it was.

However, I think currently the application grow and expand internally through this feature — users tuned in to rooms their followings joined.

But as the app grows, I think it would be valuable for Clubhouse to be empathetic to users on these kinds of matters.

If Spotify could empathize with users who listens to their exes’ playlists in private, I know Clubhouse could too.

Solution: Add a ‘private mode’.

6. Integrate with Linkedin


Natalie S
UX Consultant + Speaker.
Mother of one. Based in Toronto. Gratitude is my attitude.

After observing countless Clubhouse accounts, I have concluded that most Clubhouse members use the app more as a professional networking site rather than a community audio-chat platform, such as Discord.

Career, current domicile, and magic affirmations seem to be plastered all over most members’ biography.

Clubhouse has already integrated with Twitter and Instagram, where users can include their two other social media handles in their biographies. But why not include LinkedIn in the party, as people are using the app to network anyways?

Solution: Integrate with LinkedIn.

7. At least but not least, stretch it out!

Opening Clubhouse from my iPad wasn’t the best experience.

I know it’s still relatively a new application and it’s obviously still growing, however, I think enhancing accessibility in responsiveness for different devices would take Clubhouse even further, as products that empathize with users will gain more loyalty.

While we’re on this train, it’s been years and I’m still waiting for Instagram to make their user interface responsive on iPad.

Instagram unresponsive user interface on iPad.

Solution: It’s 2021, make things responsive baby.

A responsive design for 1368 x 912 screen

<hr><p>7 ways Clubhouse could be better: From a listener point of view was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p>