Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Goldenvoice approached us about the opportunity to redesign the Coachella Festival website again by giving us the chance to pitch a proposal to them. Given our thorough understanding of the Coachella brand and its festival and technical innerworkings, we aspired to something greater than a simple visual refresh. Based on the aggressive 8 week timeline and budget, we devised an approach that, at its core, would help to simplify their complex requirements and ultimately give the Coachella website a more functional purpose.

Existing Landscape Historically, Goldenvoice limited our scope to just the visual design of the website and so content and overall site strategy was generally off-limits as something we could improve. This situation created very particular restrictions and requirements that culminated in a poor user experience for visitors to the old site.

Mandatory information existed in overwhelming blocks of text on several pages throughout the site and made it difficult for us who had to design around it, but also for the content manager, as well as guests who had no easy way of consuming that important and compulsory information.

Proposal and Approach Given the slightly larger budget that was allotted for the redesign that year, my team and I were able to propose a more robust approach to redesigning the Coachella website using the extensive learnings from the years of working with the Goldenvoice team, visiting the festival and getting to know its operations, listening to fans, and poring over data. In years past, Goldenvoice’s underlying goal was to attract guests to its festivals. But my team and I realized that this was no longer necessary as the festival sells out regardless of how visually beautiful the Coachella website may be. Instead, we wanted to focus on refining the website to serve as a tool for all the festival goers throughout the user journey of interacting with festival. With this in mind, we decided to approach it experientially in such a way that the website would serve as a tool that would make it easy for users of the site to find what they need and learn about the full offering of attractions at the festival.

Working through issues There were various issues as we began devising a strategy for the user interface of the site. The two notable and notorious problems we had to deal with were that 1) the poster absolutely had to be the first thing users saw upon arriving to the site, and 2) there was a lot of text content for both legal and business requirements.

In trying to solve the first issue regarding the poster in the past, our visual designers had attempted resizing and placing the poster element in dozens of combinations without it deemphasizing all the other important information that was required to be seen at the top of the page. I began imagining how we could present the poster in a dramatic fashion that our clients wanted, and came up with having the poster presented entirely in its own section that takes up the entire viewport that would live above the page. New users to the site would first see the line-up poster in its entirety, and a clear clickable call-to-action to scroll them down to the main site, while returning users would jump directly to the main section through the use of cookies.

Content was worked through much more methodically after working with Goldenvoice's product manager who identified content as being a major pain-point for her. As a team, we came to realize that the way in which content was being handled was the root of several issues on the site, contributing to its existing bloat, poor design, and a frustrating user experience. Before beginning information architecture, I did a site audit of all the content and took note of what was necessary, what wasn’t, and made note of what needed updating. In combing through all the content strewn across dozens of pages, it occurred to me that everything should be organized in a library of sorts; something that could be easily edited and searched-- a knowledge base. With that epiphany in mind, I took the audited content and began to map it according to pre-existing top-level categories and topics.

After being able to pare down a significant amount of instructional and informational content, we had much more freedom to focus on a design that would allow us to direct users to specific pages and sections that offered precise information that they sought. I continued onto the site’s overall information architecture, creating sitemaps and user flows to ensure that information in the newly created knowledge base was still easily accessible by sections outside of it. Much of this was based on analytics of how users used the site in the past, and what areas of information they looked up and when. From this, we established four different phases-- announcement, pre-festival, festival, post-festival-- where the site would serve different information, and we made sure that the user flows were optimized for each of those phases.

Design and Validation Once a preliminary sitemap was established, I presented it to our visual designer and we proceeded to begin sketching out the basic structure of several key pages on the whiteboard. These collaborative whiteboard sketches were to the benefit to us both: it allowed the design team to lead the creative aspect and gave them visibility into the general design aesthetics of the site, while giving me the foundational design language to start wireframing from and allowing me and my team to ensure that the requirements and overall strategic goals were being met.

Low-fidelity wireframes were created and our visual designers began to create fully designed comps. There was still a lot of iteration involved given that content was in a constant state of evolution throughout the entire project, so there were instances where layouts needed to be changed based on the availability of certain things. We also presented our work to the client frequently to get their immediate feedback which ultimately required us to adjust our visual design, which, in some cases, required that we adjust the layout of certain elements on the page. Our designer created a style guide based on the our designs the client has approved, and I used that style guide to create high-fidelity designs of the remaining subpages of the site. Clickable prototypes were made in InVision to ensure that key tasks were easy to perform and important data was still easily accessible, especially on mobile devices. These were tested among different people in our office and amongst friends and family members for the quickest feedback.

About the author

Wilson is an experience designer who considers his skillsets rooted in user centered design, product development, and digital strategy. He has created many iterations of his UX portfolio but finds this current iteration the most “charming.”
Contrary to the perspective he employs in his writing on this site, he does not like to refer to himself in third-person, and never rarely has full conversations with himself.

Wilson is open to new career opportunities. Check him out on Linkedin.