Emerald Empire is a a premium, customizable 3 to 14 piece band specializing in high-energy music for festivals, weddings, corporate events, and private functions. They're comprised of a network of hundreds of musicians in the southeast that need to be in communication with each other on a regular basis.
With such a large network of musicians, there is a lot of room for error. Every new gig comes with:
a new set of musicians to communicate with
a new setlist
new clients with their own preferences
a new event schedule
new location with specific load-in/load-out instructions.
In short, with every event there are a lot of changing variables to keep up with coming from all different angles with no true north.
1. Contextual Inquiry
I observed an Emerald Empire event from conception to actual execution and learned the entire process. The main pain points I witnessed were:
Too many methods of communication - There is a lot of back and forth between email and text. I noticed difficulty specifically referencing previous set lists used (when creating a new one).
Lack of mobile service or internet required a lot of planning before event - Musicians had to download directions and print out hard copies of schedule and set list to ensure they had the information readily available if event venue didn't have mobile service or internet connection.
Emerald Empire DOES have a communication tool, but it isn't mobile friendly - While it is a great tool to use to reference previous and/or upcoming gigs from home, I noticed frustrations during the day of an event when information had to be accessed quickly.
I interviewed 3 Emerald Empire musicians. A Producer (the coordinator that schedules, and organizes bands for each event), a Band Leader (the day-of event MC and point person), and a Musician (a hired musician for an event).
I also interviewed 3 freelance musicians outside of Emerald Empire Band that book and coordinate their own gigs to get an unbiased perspective.
The biggest takeaway I got from every interview was that everyone communicates to their band differently. This means that there is no standardization of where information is coming from (text, email, or sent from the Emerald Empire internal site) and there is not easy way to keep track of what's being communicated. Almost all interviewees said it was an extremely painful task to manage and keep up with all the information for each event.
"I had a gig where the location changed because of weather, but, because I was already on my way, I didn't see the email come through."
"If I accidentally deleted my gig offer email, I probably couldn't find the gig information I needed. And even if I did still have the email, I'd have to search for it, find the right gig out of hundreds of emails from Emerald Empire, and then click through multiple times to find what I was looking for. It's not a good experience."
Current user journey
To pinpoint exactly where the pain points were in the current experience, I mapped out the communication journey.
The biggest pain points would reveal what features needed to be considered first, and the entire story would shape a future vision of how the final design could remove the pain throughout the entire experience.
FEATURE PRIORITIZATIOn and roadmap
To put constraints around the project and practice agile methodology, I prioritized certain features based on business and user needs.
To meet the business need to centralize their existing communication platform, I prioritized adopting those existing features within the MVP.
Then, I planned projected features based on additional user pains/needs to a second and third release.
Had this product been shipped, these features would have been influenced by the first release and research done once the product was being used enough to collect data and track usage.
To start mapping out the new experience, I created user flows with one requirement from the client - Parts of the experience shouldn't be accessible for all users.
I had to consider user roles and permissions and what parts of the experience were necessary for each.
Users (in blue) can:
accept/decline gig offers
send invoices after a gig
add bank info
view gig info (schedule, venue info, set list)
Band Leaders (in yellow) can:
do everything a user can do and...
create and save song lists
Producers (in green) can:
do everything a band leader can do and...
send and reassign gig offers
If I were to do this project today, I would have gone about this step a different way.
In hindsight, I would have:
created personas for each role to empathize with each user throughout the experience
created flows for each role to make the flows throughout the experience easier to understand
These additional efforts would have helped me communicate the experience with a team and would have made for an easier hand-off to developers.
Once I had an idea of the flow, I started brainstorming what the actual screens would look like through digital wireframing. I considered common UI patterns of gig and payment apps to lessen MVP design efforts. I knew that through testing and user feedback, I'd be able to iterate upon these designs in the future.
IN PERSON MODERATED TESTING
I prototyped the wireframes and conducted moderated tests at an Emerald Empire rehearsal. I received feedback that would influence the final design. The most important being:
Since users would primarily be using the app in dark event spaces, test users suggested a dark mode option so it wouldn't be too bright on stage or in a dimly lit event venue.
Test users were anxious about declining and canceling gigs without any confirmation. If this were done by accident, there was no way of undoing the action and no confirmation before the action was completed.
Users had issues editing their profile and said It wasn't clear how to edit each section within the profile.
Users didn't realize the 'Upcoming Gigs' tab housed same-day gig information.
With this information, I made adjustments to the wireframes and conducted an unmoderated test with the same set of tasks and a different set of volunteer participants. The feedback was positive and I felt confident to start designing final screens.
The app was designed with the performing musician in mind. The color scheme is dark, the design is simple for quick understanding and urgent use.