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Background

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.

Challenge

My goal for the project was to create a mobile app for Emerald Empire Band that would simplify communication efforts of the large network of musicians throughout event planning and execution.

I aimed to not only consolidate communications, but to also create a tool for musicians on the job to access information needed to be successful like set lists, event schedule, and point of contact information.

Role

UX Researcher

Product Designer

Content Strategist

Research

1. Contextual Inquiry

I observed an Emerald Empire event from conception to actual execution. 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 of 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.

  • The existing internal desktop site isn't very mobile friendly - While it is a great tool to use to reference previous and/or upcoming gigs, I noticed frustrations during the day of an event when information had to be accessed quickly.

2. In-Depth Interview

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.

Feature Prioritization and MVP

After interviewing and conducting contextual inquiry, I concluded that musicians needed certain features as a default. This included a way to quickly

  • send invoices 

  • to send and access set lists with other musicians on the gig

  • and to easily access event schedules and info

A key feature that Emerald Empire needed specifically was a way to accept/decline gig offers within the internal network of musicians.

Some of the other features I wanted to include for the convenience of users were instant payment options (by integrating Venmo, Paypal, or other mobile pay apps) , messaging to connect with musicians on the gig directly through the app, and a setlist builder that allows Band Leaders to pull songs from other musicians' song lists within the app to easily create a song list.


Another big feature I would eventually like to include is an option to access and import, or upload lyrics within the setlist builder feature. After interviews and inquiry, I learned that most Emerald Empire musicians use tablets to read music charts and lyrics and have to build their own set lists manually using 3rd party apps.

 

Although I was inspired by these additional ideas, I decided to keep my focus on primary features of the app based on their importance and effort they took designing. I divided these features into 3 releases.

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User Flow Maps

After working with my client and referencing research to determine the priority features for the first release, I mapped out a user flow. I had to consider permissions when mapping out Band Leader and Producer tasks and decisions that shouldn't be available for Musicians to change and edit. I used these flows to help communicate what functionality was reserved for different roles to developers.

The basic list of tasking for ALL users are mapped out below in blue:

  1. Accept/Decline Gig Offer

  2. Send Invoice

  3. Add Bank Info

  4. View Gig Info (schedule, venue info, set list)

Band leaders need to be able to create and save song lists within the Gig Info page.

Producers need to be able to send and resend gig offers, be notified of gig offer declines, and edit gig info (adding schedule and instructions from client).

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Wireframing

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 because my dad always said "don't fix what ain't broke". I knew that through testing and user feedback, I'd be able to iterate upon these designs in the future. 

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User Testing

After testing the initial lo-fi wireframes with my original interviewees, I received feedback that would influence the final design. The most important being:

  1. Since users would primarily be using the app in dark event spaces, the app needed a dark mode option so it wouldn't be too bright on stage or in a dimly lit event venue.

  2. The 'decline' and 'cancel gig' buttons had to have a confirmation or be quickly undone.

  3. It wasn't clear how to edit each section within the profile. It needed to be more apparent that each section is editable within a single view.

  4. Users didn't realize the 'Upcoming Gigs' tab housed same-day gig information. Terminology and copy  needed to be updated to reflect that a gig happening that day would appear in this tab.

Final Design

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.

Taking it forward with additional releases could provide new features like a set-list builder, instant payout options through 3rd party apps, and messaging and gig alerts to be communicated within the app.

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