vwCard.png

Variable West

UX Consultant

A website redesign for an event site for art enthusiasts on the West Coast.

Overview

Project Brief

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.

The Problem

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. 

The Goal

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

Responsibilities

Create personas, conduct user and competitor research, implement user testing, and create high fidelity prototypes to present to Variable West team. 

Tools:

Miro, Adobe XD, Sketch

Role:

Serve as project manager alongside team of two other UX Designers. 

  • Creation of tree tests to guide information architecture​

  • Low and mid fidelity prototypes that laid out the functional elements of Variable West site

Over the course of this project, user and competitor research was conducted to define personas, information architecture was defined, and low, mid, and high fidelity prototypes were created.

The Process

Discover

Identify user needs and motivations to define effective solutions.

Ideate

Propose solutions and test with users to refine designs

Design

Create a style guide to create visual aesthetic and impact

Test

Test to ensure the discovery and design process is effective

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

Personas

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

vw-primary-persona

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

vw-secondary-persona

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

California

Seattle

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:

California

Subscribe

Primary Navigation

California

Oregon

Washington

Subscribe

Los Angeles

Eugene

Olympia

San Francisco

Portland

San Diego

Salem

Tacoma

Secondary Navigation

Submissions

Variable Voice

Events

Subscription

About

Featured 

Submit Event

Interviews

Information

Our Story

Coming Soon

Reviews

Tiers

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. 

vw-home-paper-prototype
vw-event-paper-prototype

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.

vw-variable-voice-mid-fidelity-prototype
vw-content-list-mid-fidelity-prototype

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.

Colors

#0000FF

Primary

#6B6F79

#0000FF

##F4F4F4

#2020F0

#898E9B

#FAFAFA

Secondary

Typography

Ag

Proza Libre Medium

Ag

Proza Libre SemiBold

Open Sans

Ag

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.

vw-variable-voice-high-fidelity-prototype
vw-event-page-high-fidelity-prototype
vw-event-page-high-fidelity-prototype.png

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.

vw-high-fidelity-mobile-prototype

Takeaways

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.