To determine how and why people engaged with parks and how they searched for events, we looked at census data, academic texts, previous parks studies and conducted a survey.
Why do you think people go to parks?
To escape the city? Partly yes.
To relax? That too.
To be alone? Surprisingly, no.
People go to parks to be with other people.
Images courtesy of the New York Public Library.
More than 1/3 of New Yorkers are foreign born, representing 150 countries and speaking over 600 languages.
NYC also hosts an average of 65 million visitors annually.
With all that comes unique customs, behaviors and needs.
An intensive 2005 study of NYC Parks found that the #1 reason for park attendance was for things to do.
We conducted a survey to determine if and how people find local events to help influence our new design.
It was useful for us to discover what kinds of events people like to do and how they find out about them.
attend parks events monthly
like to attend cultural events
So what did all of this tell us?
1) We need the design to be as accessible to all kinds of people as possible.
2) We need to be sensitive to different cultural needs.
3) We should make finding the types of events they're seeking very easy to do.
4) We will ensure that each event has all the necessary information one might need to make a decision.
Interviews + Affinity Mapping
Based on findings from the above research, we set out to interview seven subjects that we felt would be an accurate representation of our audience: attend events at local parks, parents of younger children, ESL speakers, immigrants, senior citizens, millenials, or lower-income.
Kinds of things we asked them:
Can you tell us about a recent time you searched for activities/programs/events locally and while traveling?
What criteria are important to you when deciding what kind of event to attend?
Can you think of an experience that was especially easy or difficult to use when finding activities to do?
"I look for things that me and my husband would enjoy but that also have entertainment for our kids. We recently went to a local art fair I heard about through a local Facebook group." - Maggie
"I click through the Google results and ask myself 'is this site very easy to understand?' If not, I immediately leave. For example, on my gas company's website, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to pay my bill." - Rob
"I look for wide open space to throw a football or play tennis with my friends. I also search local groups for concerts or other inexpensive entertainment." - David
We also had them perform a usability test on the current mobile NYC Parks Events site to get real qualitative feedback on the design and functionality. The task:
"How would you find out what movies are showing in parks near you?"
"UGH. What is going on? It's too busy, I want to leave."
"I have to keep zooming in and out to see the screen. I can't do this with one hand while I have a kid on my lap.
"What is the difference between kids events and good for kids? This is very outdated looking." - Varna
"This is really hard to read and some parts are confusing. How do I search by location?" - Swetha
We now had lots of quality information about how users find and how they want to search for events. We mapped all of the interviews to discover the main themes.
Mapping all of those details, we found the following priorities:
Most of our interview subjects look for cultural, kid friendly and exercise activities
Social media and word of mouth is a common way to learn about events
Users want a clear way to sort and filter results
They prefer to view events on a map and to be able to search by location
Taking what we learned from behavioral research and interviews, we were able to identify a few different user types to empathize with during the design phases.
Any of these user types could also be ESL speakers and/or first generation immigrants.
Parents of younger children
We looked at a wide variety of direct and non-direct competitors in the event, parks and city/civic spaces to see how they organized their architecture, flow and search and how events appeared.
Can search and display by multiple parameters
Photo cards/tiles with basic relevant information
Clear CTA's and hierarchy
Similiar suggestions and tags
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Good filtering and sorting
The less good:
Limited search/filter functionality
Sign up required
No calendar or map functions
Overwhelming notification systems
Not enough details on event page
Too many steps in flow
Lack of accessibility