An app for event discovery on college campuses.
1. The problem
There is no simple, go-to way to discover events on college campuses. Students around campus were always asking me, “What’s going on this weekend?” or they were just sitting in their rooms all day because they “didn’t know an event was going on”. Event discovery products like Facebook Events and Eventbrite existed but the experience there wasn't made for college students.
2. The team
My team included myself, Renato Amboss, John Chang, and Thomas Meek. I was the only designer and worked closely with our engineers and also engineering teams we outsourced. We later hired one new designer, Matt Poppelaars. He helped us define the product and I was able to have a second design eye and brain which helped immensely.
3. Product goals
Success would be having students use this and it actually solving their problems of not knowing what to do, where to go, and which of their friends are going out. After months of work, we didn’t launch it. I wish I prototyped more and tested this with more with users. There was just too much problems on the development side that we were never satisfied with what the development team handed over to us. This caused us to lose focus on the vision for the product and stop altogether.
4. What I learned
The project eventually got put on hold. I’m starting a new project now and my takeaways from Clustur are to just get something in people’s hands. I kept trying to perfect it. My team kept coming up with new features or taking things out when we initially should've just gotten a basic thing out there and iterate on that. In the future, I'll be going for a more agile approach.
I started out by researching how students actually found out about events on their campus. I created a Google Form Survey and gathered 101 responses from students from different college campuses. This helped me define what exactly I needed to focus on with a target audience of college students. I also interviewed several students and asked about their event discovery habits and behaviors. The biggest takeaways I got from my research was:
Students rely on their friends for information. “Word of Mouth”, “Facebook”, and “Campus Advertisements” are the most popular methods of discovering events on their campus. 90% of students surveyed find out about events through “Word of Mouth”.
“Eventbrite” may be popular everywhere else but it isn't used on college campuses.
Students like free things. Other questions included “Is there food?”, and “What will I learn/gain/benefit from attending?”
Surprisingly, students don’t care too much about how they were invited to an event. “Was I personally invited?” was only selected by 43% of students.
Students care about the opinions of other students. There was some interest in “Reviews of previous experiences with event”.
We conducted an informal competitive analysis. Based on this, we found out that the event discovery market was full but the experience wasn't perfect for college students. What were they doing wrong? After this analysis as well as the interviews and surveys, we decided to explore on possible solutions to separate us from our competitors.
After analyzing the results, I started sketching out some ideas on the direction we can take with this product. I had to create a new information hierarchy of what users would see on the event list screen versus what they would see when they are on the actual event description screen. What are the steps the user would take to create an event? What does it look like when they find an event? What shows up when the user first logs in? These are some of the initial questions I had to ask myself.
Target audience and use cases
To find out what to do
To figure out their weekend plans
To see what their friends are doing
To know what a specific person is doing
To meet new people
Respond to a notification or event invite
Finding the location of an event
The event list feature was a pretty challenging problem since it was one of the most important features of the product. It's the way users can find events at their school. I wanted this to be intuitive and I wanted users to feel comfortable using this but I didn't want it to be the same experience as scrolling down their Facebook Events or Eventbrite feeds. I wanted it to be different. I explored some different ideas and asked for feedback from different students. The feedback showed that the tinder-like feature was pretty popular so I wanted to explore a little more on that. Check out some of my ideas sketched out below.
At this point, I hired my friend Matt to join the team. Working with Matt helped so much. We decided to try out this Tinder-like approach to make sure that users have a feed of content they are actually interested in. Having a curated list of events instead of all list of all the events could be a game changer. Here are some initial explorations on this idea.
We had to figure out how exactly a user would need to use this product and what exact screens needed to be thought through. This helped understand what the actual problem was and where we can solve it. We used a persona of Thomas, a normal college student attending a frat party and imagined ourselves in his shoes. What would he want to see? What would he expect when using this product? How can Clustur enhance his experience of an event, before, during and even after it?
After creating the initial flow and making some final decisions, we began on the visual design work. We had many different mockups and decisions to make. I believe strongly in intentionality so we had to make very good decisions on why we did what we did. There were a lot of tradeoffs, for example, what exactly would be shown on an event "card". With limited information, it makes the screen very clean, but the user needed more information based on the surveys like which of their friends are going.
We ended up testing a prototype with students at Pacific Lutheran University but as of now, the project is on hold.