Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

The team and my role

  • Julia - VP Strategy
  • Zoe - UI Designer
  • Tania - UI Designer
  • Brendan - Developer
  • Kayvon - Producer
  • Dani - Product Manager, Goldenvoice

I was 1/2 of the Strategy team, working alongside my boss, Julia, in designing the user experience and strategic direction for the 2016 Coachella site. My responsibilities included research and planning; contributing to product strategy and information architecture; wireframing and prototyping; and assisting with visual design.


My agency had redesigned the Coachella website the past 2 years prior to my formal involvement in this product. My contributions began in the form of user research and information architecture in 2014 but my role was not extensive; in late 2015, we began creating our proposal for the redesign of the 2016 site and so I was formally assigned to the project from the beginning.

Over those years, the work my team had done was geared towards improving and unifying the disparate pieces of the Coachella brand from the website down to the user accounts and ticketing process-- to create a more seamless experience. We had extensive learnings from these years of working with the Goldenvoice team, visiting the festival and getting to know its operations, listening to fans, and poring over data.

Using this existing knowledge and the intel gleaned from meeting with key stakeholders, we defined 2 high-level goals that gave our client a distinct direction for their Coachella brand's digital presence.


  1. Create a digital experience that responds to the needs of its user base
  2. Communicate what the festival stands for today and in years to come

“Okay, let's break it down”

Julia and I evaluated these goals and came up with a list of questions and concerns we had to first answer in order to come up with comprehensive solutions to address our goals. The types of questions ranged from trivial to detailed, visual to techincal. Tracing the questions to their roots of what we desired to learn from each, we were able to distill a majority of our thoughts and issues into these 2 key questions whose answers provided the foundation for the way we approached the project:

  • What are the needs of our users?
  • How do we deal with pages of necessary information that continues to grow every year?

Getting into Problems: What are the needs of our users?

We combed through the analytics of 2015’s site and compiled the data to identify any major trends in traffic. The data made it clear that users were interested in very specific information and content, and access them at different times throughout the course of a year.

The reason for this is partially due to the way the site was structured in years past, where it attempted to present all the information in only a handful of key pages that it had clearly outgrown. With this, we determined the first user requirement: show users what they need to know when they need/want to know it.

This requirement brought about another important point to consider regarding the when we should be presenting certain information to users. My team and the client has always understood the festival as having distinct phases, but this was never a public-facing concept in practice or verbiage. When we looked at the analytics, we saw that visitor activity lined up with the timeline of our defined phases. Using this insight, we created a matrix that included the most important content/information prioritized within each festival phase, and used that as a basis in our designs.

I worked closely with our Art Director, Zoe, to explain our findings and approach to the redesign and we began brainstorming how our solutions could translate visually. A few whiteboarding sessions yielded various sketches that would go on to become wireframes that I worked on and the elements of the visual design that Zoe worked on.

Getting into Problems: How do we deal with pages of necessary information that continues to grow every year

In the process of addressing the phased approach of presenting information on the homepage, I began tracing the user journies from the homepage through the site to ensure the page flow made sense and was complete. This activity made a well-known fact-- that there is a lot of information spread, across a lot of pages, and not very organized-- even more painfully obvious.

I thought of possible ways to solve this and looked to other festival sites for inspiration, but those didn’t share the Coachella's problem since the amount of content on their sites were substantially less. I then had an epiphany and realized this information and content was best organized at a granular level, and warranted an easy way for which users to find it. The solution to the overwhelming amount of content was a knowledge base.

By cleaning up and organizing the majority of informational content, we were able to streamline the visual design. This allowed the other sections of the site like Art and Food & Beverage to be given more prominence just by the fact that a majority of the informational pages have been grouped together in an easily accessible place; the rest of the site was now able to showcase the features of the festival without being bogged down by logistical information. With the valuable real estate dedicated to showcasing features of the festival, we were able to address and achieve the second goal of communicating the whole story of the festival.


The website launched on time and was fully responsive, ready for the increasing number of mobile users. The combination of our phased strategy for content and utilitarian design and information architecture proved to be successful when we reviewed the analytics after the festival ended. The users’ page views were less haphazard and generally followed our intended journey through the site as far as we were able to see via analytics during the festival until our contract ended shortly after the festival's conclusion for the year.

We were never able to convince the client to allow us to put up a survey on the site for 2016, or any other years in the past. And since 2016 was our last year working with Goldenvoice, we could not perform any follow up research to assess and measure both qual- and quantitatively, the true performance of our redesign.

But given that the knowledge base continued to exist in the 2017 incarnation, and that the product manager at Goldenvoice expressed her relief for the order and organization that the knowledge base has given her with regards to editing and managing it, I think it’s safe to say my team and I definitely did at least one thing right.

About the author

Wilson is an experience designer who considers his skillsets rooted in user centered design, product development, and digital strategy.

Check him out on Linkedin.