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Digitizing Regional Culinary Experiences

Showing the best of Austin’s Food and Wine Festival

The Austin Food and Wine Festival is an event hosted by the Austin Food and Wine Alliance. The event features the best of Austin's thriving culinary scene and is looking for ways to digitally promote the attractions and to support local business and community.

My team and I combined in depth research with intuitive navigation and captivating visuals to modernize and streamline the festival experience. By creating a well designed platform, it allowed attendees to participate with confidence, convenience, and understanding of the venue's mission statements

Project Details

Team

UX Designer

Duration

2 Weeks

Role

UX Researcher, Project Manager, UI Illustrator, Presenter

Methods

User Interviews, Heuristic Evaluation, Task Analysis, Competitive & Comparative Analysis, Affinity Mapping, Personas, MoSCoW Prioritization, User Flows, Sketching & Wireframing, Style Guide, Rapid Prototyping, Usability Testing, Double Diamond.

Tools

Figma, Google Docs, Trello, Zoom, Slack, Photoshop, Illustrator, Miro, Mural, Google Slides

Discovery and Research

What is the issue?

The Austin Food & Wine Festival is a three-day event filled with delicious food, wine tasting, celebrity guest chefs, and more. Our goal was to optimize the mobile experience for attendees and to highlight the festival partnership its founder non-profit organization: The Austin Food & Wine Alliance. 

The Challenge

The Festival's mobile and desktop functionality is a frustrating experience as it lacks information and features to navigate. This makes it difficult for prospecting visitors to plan the event which wastes time and cause confusion. These negative experiences are a huge opportunity loss to promote its regional culinary wonders and its alliance community goals. So our objective is to help attendees save time, have clear navigation, get informed with community goals, and attend their desired activities.

The Goals

Make important festival information easy to find

Find easier ways for visitors to attend events

Provide clear navigation to reduce wasted time and stress

 

Showcase the Alliance and their goals.

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Discovery and Research

Finding Our Ideas

We looked at the issues with the digital platforms in order to define best practices we can use to improve its design.

Heuristics

We identified multiple issues through mobile and desktop testing. The current iteration had many dead sections with no information (such as purchasing tickets ). Others are buried within digital documents that are hard to access and harder to find. (Example: event schedules, guest information) Overall, its digital platforms are incomplete and largely inaccessible.

Competitive Analysis

We chose 4 food festivals as competitors to assess the industry standards. We conducted a plus and delta analysis to see what we can adapt to our design.

We discovered that each had:

Visually appealing layout with clean alignments and content positioning.

 

Easy and Simple Navigation to all necessary features

 

Clear and detailed activity and business information

Screenshot_2021-03-10 Project 3 Case Stu
Screenshot_2021-03-10 Project 3 Case Stu
Screenshot_2021-03-10 Project 3 Case Stu
Screenshot_2021-03-10 Project 3 Case Stu

Discovery and Research

Understanding the People

Screenshot_2021-03-16 Food Festival Surv
Screenshot_2021-03-16 Food Festival Surv

"A Festival is a chance to experience something you wouldn't be able to find in your daily life...It's an exciting place where you get to explore new ideas and make connections. If the expectations creates a good experience...It might even become part of your interest in your daily life."

"Festivals can get really crowded...I don't really enjoy the food when I'm standing in a line, it's not the same as getting to sit down and relax...Always feel like you're scrounging up food to try everything in desperation. And then it gets hard to find some place to sit among the crowds of people."

"Food Festivals should dedicate its resources not only to the food or the products, but to the experiences itself because it leaves the visitors with a good impression and memory."

We sent out a survey about the typical festival experience and narrowed down to 4 users fitting our target user criteria. Our interviews looked into how they learned about the event, planning habits, and common frustrations.

 

In addition, we had our users complete a task analysis comprising 4 tasks in a brief walk through of the original website. These included:

Find the list of top restaurants and chefs

0 Completed

Find the events schedule

1 Completed

Find info about the Food and Wine Alliance

1 Completed

Find the Age Requirement for Entry

2 Completed

What we learned

Strong online and social media presence for planning

Planning is the most stressful experience for many users looking for information prior to the event. As such, we need to reduce the friction as much as possible by making the details easily accessible.

Lines and crowds are the largest stress factor

Many users were frustrated by human traffic in their past experiences, attributing to poor organization and no alternative to waiting. We wanted to challenge and find ways to reduce wait times or remove lines entirely.

Clear and concise navigation

Getting lost is a negative experience all users strongly expressed. They believed a good map is a necessary feature to help navigate the grounds. Frustration occurs when the map is illegible or if there was no intuitive way to locate themselves. We considered options to include an interactive map with options to assist the users with their needs.

Define and Ideate

The Fantastic Foodie

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Define and Ideate

Setting our Objectives

With the research and user definition, we can identify the design decisions to improve the Festival experience.

So how might we...

Make the important festival information easy to find?

Simplify the attendees’ planning process?

Highlight the Austin Food & Wine Alliance?

The Priorities

The Solution

Increasing Map Clarity and Usability

Improving physical navigation will allow users to attend with less stress.

Populating and improving missing or ambiguous information

Helps with planning and organization to ensure user confidence.

Increasing time efficiency with options to digitally interact with events and activities

Implementing features to reduce crowds and increase user attendance.

Improving overall navigation and visual aesthetics

Modernizing UI and Information Architecture for responsive design on the go.
 

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Design and Develop

From Ideas to Craft

We started by conceptualizing our ideas in basic sketch, bridging the gap between visual and function while slowly updating each iteration through feedback and testing. With each round of test, we gradually improved our final product.

Starting with the Basics

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Concept Idea Other Style.png

We wanted to get a basic idea of the layout, orientation, and information architecture of the redesign.

Applying our research into visuals, we had a framework to develop on.
 

Adding Some Details

Screenshot_2021-03-10 Project 3 Appendix
Screenshot_2021-03-10 Project 3 Appendix

Next we increase the design to mid-fidelity where we will conduct testing to see how our designs work. In this stage, we defined all important call-to-action features and points to help our user navigate the application.
 

Testing our design

We invited 4 users that matched our persona criteria to test our designs. The users were tasked with 4 tasks to complete.
 

Add a Chef to the Itinerary

3 Completed

Sign in to an event

4 Completed

Purchase a Ticket

4 Completed

Reserve some sample wines

4 Completed

Feedback and Improvement

Through testing, we discovered avenues of improvement. Moving towards finishing our design, we decided to:

Remove the itinerary from the talents page and added it as “view itinerary” in the navigation drop-down menu

Users were confused to its purpose. We clarified the wording and placed it in a separate location to make clear how to use this feature.

Put a search bar in the talents directory and information about each chef

This helped users sort through the massive roster of talents to find the ones they want. It also allowed us to incorporate preview features on their profile.

Updated the map filter to be pulled up instead of a separate screen to avoid confusion.

This gives the user more clarity with inputting information and less obstruction to navigation.

Design and Develop

Finalizing the Design

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Delivering and Closing Thoughts

The Grand Finale

Check out our Prototype!

Our next event - The Next Steps

Our next steps are based on issues we didn't involve much with due to constraints. These include:

Work on perfecting the UI layout and typography including some buttons, pages, and sizing.

 

Expand on features to include additional services like parking or help information.

Improve on ensuring ADA compliance

Expand the desktop version

Additional testing to discover further improvements
 

Reflections

Empathy is the spirit of the design

At first glance, much of my focus were about making the design look nicer without much consideration about the multitude of missing or broken features. By understanding why and what people look for, it contextualized what are the things people find important to guide our direction.

MVP and Planning is the mind of the design

There were many avenues and functions we'd love to implement with this project, many we regrettably had to ignore due to constraints. By defining the minimum value to attain, it helped us work efficiently and with focus to create something nice; with even time to spare to sprinkle in the ideas we previously sidelined.

Testing is the soul of the design

Getting feedback and opinion was arguably the greatest critique throughout the project. It reaffirms things we've done right but also highlight things we could improve. It helps validate our progress and constantly make the right changes.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I'm deeply satisfied with this project. It gave me an opportunity to improve an experience that will have impact on a community. It gives meaning to the work and I learned a lot in the process. I plan to apply this newfound knowledge to my future works.

Thanks for Reading!

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