Thomas Pritchard

Product Designer



Venue Intelligence (Case Study)


Venue Intelligence is a platform to help Event Managers share the event and emergency operations plan that lay out how an event will unfold, and what to do in the event of an emergency.


Event Informaiton. Managers wanted a clear overview so they could see the current state of an event at any given time. They wanted a simple area to handle publishing the various parts of the event (such as EOP, EAP, and Maps), and the navigation to get to the screens they could edit them on.

Edit EOP. The application revolves around sharing these documents, which are created in a WYSIWYG editor. The master/detail paradigm is used again here to give a sense of position in the whole Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), even when one is writing a specific section of it.


Select EAP Table of Contents. With the Event Action Plan, there are a number of industry-standard documents we wanted to include as templates. The user can select or remove templates and add their own custom documents using a modal interface.

Venue Master & Detail. The venues page was a classic master & detail design, letting the user see an overview of all of their venues on the left, and dig deep on information about the venue, and and overview of its next events on one page.


EAP List. With the Event Action Plan, there are a number of industry-standard documents we wanted to include as templates. The user can select or remove templates and add their own custom documents using a modal interface.

EAP Document. Once the user has navigated into a document, they can see it laid out in a responsive layout that adjusts to their device size. They can also search within a document to quickly find vital information.

EOP List. The Emergency Operation Plan list is similar to the EAP list, with full text search. It's vital to get this information surfaced fast, since it helps inform response staff in emergencies, so search at the top was an important feature added after users were having trouble finding information quickly in user tests.


Map Detail. There are a number of maps that can be related to an event, such as parking and stadium maps, so discovery and displaying maps was an important part of the design process.

Contacts. Finding whom to contact, and then how to contact them can be hard in the best of times, when over 4,000 staff can be at large events. The contacts list, with full search for name, job position, and assigned location, alleviates that with an interface that lets users find who they're looking for within 20 seconds.

Push Notifications. It is important that users know when data is updated, and what they need to catch up on since the last time they read documentation. We utilized push notifications to explain clearly and concisely what the user needs to read.


The Challenge

The current workflow for an Event Manager is to create a ring-binder with all of the event and emergency operations plans. Usually a few copies of this are made, and they are stored in back offices or in vans. If an emergency strikes, the current protocol is to run to the nearest binder and check what it says to do.

This is inefficient, unprofessional, and even potentially dangerous in some cases.


The Solution

Venue Intelligence wanted to reinvent this workflow by digitalizing both the creation and distribution of the operation plans. Their solution required two products, a Web Administration Interface to create and manage the distribution of the plans and documents, and a Mobile Application to distribute the information to the first responders, the volunteers, and to executive management.


The Process

The Venue Intelligence project was, throughout, done by trusting the User-Centered Design Approach process. I have found that by trusting the established process, I can repeatably design products that users find valuable, and are easy to learn how to use.

Analyse

The first step was to analyze how the current processes for Event Action Plans and Emergency Operations Plans work in their analogue form. It was a ring-binder of notes often many inches thick which, because of its heft, had to be stored in a back-office, and was hard to duplicate. Clearly understanding the best and worst elements of existing processes made designing for a future process easier, as I saw where a new product with an improved process could improve the lives of its users.

Understanding who the users of of the products were was also a vital part to the design process. The two products (web administration application and mobile application) had very different personas with different goals.

The web administration application was for Event Managers. Our persona, Jane, an Event Manager had to create and maintain the documents required for every event, as well as ensuring that the binders were distributed around the venue. She wanted an easier way to create, manage, and distribute the documents she was required to create.

The mobile application was for volunteer staff and emergency first-responders. John, our persona for volunteer staffers, didn't really understand the advanced processes behind how an event worked, he just wanted to stand at his assigned entrance and do a good job. In the event of an emergency, though, he wanted to be able to act quickly to support the first responders as best he could, but he didn't really know how to do that.

Sarah was the persona for the emergency first responder. She was assigned the event and had read the binder she was given, paying close attention to the Emergency Operations Plan. In the event she was needed however, she couldn't spend vital time dragging around her binder. She wanted a small, fast to search, way to get all of the information she needed.

Design

Task flows are a cheap and quick way to rapidly iterate on interface navigation. It let me experiment with a large number of model layouts, such as having a global 'Event' picker, with the rest of the interface being related to that specific event. I settled on a similar navigation to the final layout, but sans the 'Event Information' screen.

For the mobile application I settled early on on the tabular interface that is a standard for iOS applications, and a simple master-detail paradigm. It was important to make the mobile application as conceptually simple as possible, as users will not have a long time to acquaint themselves with the application before they may need to use it in an emergency.

The initial concept design is used to lay out the basic design of the application, so it can be walked through, just without details. I used this to test my assumptions made in the task flow design and with the results I found that users were having a little trouble orienting themselves inside an event. After discussions with the client, we settled upon the 'Event Information' screen as a screen to give users an overview of the event, and a place to orient themselves within the event.

Concept Design. The concept design after the initial user testing found that users needed an 'Event Information' screen to help orient themselves in the an event's detail.

Detailed wireframes are detailed visions of what the actual application would look like. While my initial concepts took liberties with what a block of information would look like, the detailed wireframes were fully fleshed out, so that I could take them and later create visual designs with minimal effort.

Feedback & Iteration

Despite being confident in the navigation layout, it was still very important to test the details that were not present in the initial concept wireframes. It was during these tests I found that my mobile design for contacts was too complex for users who just want to send a message out to a contact. In my first design I had a master-detail paradigm similar to the rest of the application, but for a model as simple as a contact, we decided that it was a better choice to flatten the structure to have the cell phone number, radio channel, and location on each row in the contact list. This saved a tap when it came to searching for users, which is important in life-and-death emergency situations.


Notes

This was a project I worked on whilst working as a User Experience Designer at DeveloperTown. All of the screenshots are from the final deliverable I created. I was not the only person working with Venue Intelligence at DeveloperTown, but I was the one entirely responsible for the design of these interfaces.

All of the digital design work for the Venue Intelligence project was made in Sketch, the great interface design software from Bohemian Coding.