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Published on May 19, 2015
Mitchel Ahern, VP of Marketing at Cantina, presents an app that educates the user before an event and then helps them navigate the festival at the 2014 UX Awards in San Francisco. The Newport Folk Festival App won Bronze Prize for Most Authentic Experience.
The Newport Folk Festival®, one of the nation’s best-known and longest-running live music festivals, had a simple goal for their mobile app: enhance the festival experience by providing access to up-to-the-minute artist, schedule and venue information in a tool that kept the audience focused on the festival, not the app. The app needed to consider three distinct contexts. Prior to the event, the attendee’s primary goal is discovery, to learn who is performing at the festival and get a general sense for the schedule. During the three days when they’re at the festival, the goal becomes almost entirely logistical. At that point, the user wants immediate and unfettered access to who’s playing now, who’s playing next and who has already played. Both of these contexts needed to be handled gracefully through a unified user experience. The final context is largely hidden from the festival goer, though no less important. The festival team needed to manage schedule changes and proactively notify attendees immediately, as well as to push impromptu messages throughout the course of the event. The app actually changes while the festival is happening, continually realigning itself and it’s content to reflect the up-to-the-moment state of the event. We decided the schedule would be the primary view, with all other functionality playing second fiddle. For example, eliminating a navigational landing screen and dropping the user directly into the schedule meant one less step each time the app launched. With the schedule-centric model in mind, the team continued working together toward a fully realized app. First low-fidelity wireframes captured various scheduling approaches, to visually validate and refine the direction. We then moved thru prototyping in a higher-fidelity, interactive form. In parallel we crafted the general visual design approach, mindful of the festival brand, lineage and existing aesthetic. When it came time to code the app, we frequently worked together in a dedicated workspace, broadcasting the app on a big screen as it came to life. As lines of code were authored, everyone on the team collaborated in real time, sculpting and refining the concept as the app evolved.