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A Redesign of 

Variable West

A Redesign of a Site for Art Enthusiasts 

Team: 3 UX Designers 

Project Type: Consulting

Duration: August - December 2020


Variable West

Variable West, founded in the summer of 2020, is an event site for art enthusiasts. Currently serving those in California, Oregon, and Washington, Variable West sought a website redesign in order to define its visual aesthetic and create functionality to serve its growing user base.


Variable West sought a redesign  in order to create a signature brand aesthetic to set them apart from other companies in the event space. In addition, Variable West needed to understand what their users looked for and the features that would best serve them. 


Create an event site that encourages users to discover new artists, attend more events, and promote them to their communities.


  • Create personas 

  • Conduct user and competitor research

  • Implement user testing 

  • Create high fidelity prototypes 


  • Miro for ideation and brainstorming 

  • Adobe XD for prototyping 

  • Adobe Illustrator for asset creation



Serve as a project manager alongside team of two other designers. 

  • Creation of tree tests to guide information architecture 

  • Low and mid fidelity prototypes to lay out the functional elements of the Variable West site 

The Process 

Over the course of this project, participants were recruited, a participatory design study was conducted, findings were condensed into research papers, and an app was designed to be used in the study's second phase.


Identify user needs and motivations in order to define effective solutions 

  • Survey individuals to identify connections to art community

  • Persona Development

  • Competitor Research 


Work to create brand identity for Variable West 

  • Creation of style guide 

  • Tests on information architecture 

  • Low to mid-fidelity prototypes 


Test to ensure the discovery and design phases were effective

  • Usability Testing 

  • Iteration

Discovery Phase

User Research

Research was first conducted in order to get a better understanding of the type of user we would be designing for.

Key Findings:

  • Users primary engaged with the arts community several times per year with the second largest group being those who engaged once per month

  • Users reported that they primarily discovered art events through their social circle

  • On a scale of one to ten, users reported not feeling very connected to the arts community  

Perceived Connection to the Arts Community

Not connected

Extremely connected


Two unique personas were created to help guide design and were kept in mind throughout the rest of the design process. 


Marissa Taylor
“I feel so inspired when I go to new galleries and exhibits, but sometimes don’t have the time to find out about them on my own.”

My Story:
After growing up and attending undergrad in a small town in the mid-west I decided to try my luck in California. I love that my work provides a creative outlet and I’m constantly searching for new inspiration through the local arts scene. Finding new galleries and shows really fuels my passion for my work. 

My Goals:
Push myself creatively
Find new shows to inspire me

Push myself creatively
Find new shows to inspire me


Ana Martinez
“I’ve been with the first Friday art-walk commission downtown for about 4 years now. It’s a great way to connect with and support local artists.”

My Story:
I’m a nonprofit educator and freelance event promoter living in Portland. I moved to find a more progressive community, and feel I have found my niche doing youth development and arts outreach. My passions include social advocacy and connecting with local artists. 

My Goals:
Create targeted posts
 Advocate for my community

Start my own nonprofit in Portland Consume only ethical products


Information Architecture

In order to assess which information architecture would work best for the Variable West site, a card sort and tree test were conducted with a small group of participants.

Card Sort: A card sort was first conducted in which participants were asked to analyze key features of the site and group them in ways that made sense intuitively

Tree Test: A tree test was performed to test these groupings by having participants use a site map based on groupings in order to complete tasks

The following presents the finalized site map for the site:




Primary Navigation





Los Angeles



San Francisco


San Diego



Secondary Navigation


Variable Voice





Submit Event



Our Story

Coming Soon



Our Values

Submit to VV

Love Letters

Competitor Research

Four sites, all in the event promotion space, were analyzed to assess their strengths and weaknesses. From this analysis, the following findings were gathered: 

  • Suggestive search helps users interact with the site

  • Suggestive search to promote popular search terms

  • Make it easy as possible to filter by location

  • Icons can be a helpful way to orient users

  • Find visual balance between niche corporate sites

  • Pictures are important to orient users and create visual interest

  • Diversity and accessibility scores low for all competitors

  • Create icons for different locations

Design Phase

Paper Prototypes

Once all research was conducted, paper prototypes were made to get an idea of what the final redesign could look like. Once mobile and web versions of the prototypes were made, they were tested with a group of participants to see how well a set of tasks could be performed. 


Mid-Fidelity Prototypes

After paper prototypes were tested with users to ensure the information architecture made intuitive sense, medium fidelity prototypes were created to start developing the functional elements that would be used in Variable West's mobile and web experiences.


Developing a Style Guide

From our research we found that users of artistic platforms have high expectations for the visual aesthetics of a site. In order to develop a new style guide, elements that were important to the client, such as the branded color, were given new life by being paired with more sophisticated complimentary colors and fonts. 

By developing a clean style guide, we've allowed the art and artists featured on the site to stand out.













Proza Libre Medium


Proza Libre SemiBold

Open Sans


High Fidelity Prototypes for Web

Below are high fidelity prototypes for the web experiences. Screens shown represent the Variable West Home Page, an individual event page, and one of Variable West's famous Love Letters.


High Fidelity Prototypes for Mobile

Below are high fidelity prototypes for the mobile experience. Screens shown represent the Variable West Home Page, an individual event page, and one of Variable West's famous Love Letters.



This site offered an opportunity to push ourselves out of traditional design conventions in order to create  a site that reflected the creativity of the events and artists it promoted. The unique design challenge of serving three different states also pushed our team to come up with intuitive solutions and a site map that promoted event selection at the forefront. 

From the last client meeting, further insights were gained that will be used to create a high fidelity version of the site to present to the Variable West team. 


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