Case Study for SummerDance Chicago

This year the City of Chicago has implemented security perimeters and a bag check policy for all events and programs. Because of the new security rules, residents and visitors must purchase tickets online for the event or program they wish to attend. A new ticketing mobile website must be created for the city for upcoming events and programs. 

Project Background

The Task
To design a mobile website for Summerdance Chicago which would have a
booking feature to purchase tickets for entry into the city’s programs.

The Challenge
To identify behaviors, processes and pain points of consumers when purchasing tickets for an event online.

Target User
Residents and visitors to the City of Chicago who attend the public and private events and programs sponsored by the city.

My Process
I followed a UX design thinking process (see below) to make sure that my design decisions were supported through user research and feedback.

My Process

Phase 1: Empathize

  • competitive analysis
  • one-on-one interviews
  • empathy map
  • user persona

Phase 2: Define

  • define and agree on project goals

Phase 3: Ideate

  • site map
  • task and user flow
  • wireframes
  • branding & ui design

Phase 4: Prototype & Test

  • usability testing and iteration if needed

Phase 1

Empathize Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis was conducted to identify patterns of the booking process. The apps reviewed were,, and The purpose of this analysis was to reveal any new patterns or to identify similar ones. From looking at these apps, I discovered that although they are different in layout and display, the process was very straightforward and easy. Most importantly, the apps only gave the user the most important information needed to make the purchase.

Four(4) One-on-One Interviews
Interview Participants were Male and Female Between 25-60 Years Old
Purpose: The purpose of these interviews was to uncover key needs, wants, desires, and pain points when purchasing tickets online.

4 out of 4 participants need

  • an easy and straightforward process
  • navigation and information to be clear
  • inputting information quick and easy
  • pricing information is clear and itemized

3 out of 4 participants want

  • ratings and reviews clear and upfront
  • an easy way to cancel purchases

2 out of 4 participants desire

  • an easier way to contact customer service for instant help with the problem
  • the ability to increase the font size on the screen

Participant Quotes

“Having a limited time to reserve a seat – frustrating, I feel rushed.”

Make navigation extremely simple.

The process should be quick and if it takes too long I just may log out. These days if it’s not seamless and if you can’t put your information in quick I don’t know if I trust it.

Interview Script (created by Traci Williams)

Hi my name is Traci Williams and I am conducting research regarding online booking experiences. I was approached by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to help design a website for Summerdance Chicago. One of the required main features is to have a booking component for residents and visitors to book their events for attendance. Would you mind if I spend about 20 minutes asking you about your experience booking any recent event or activity?

Questions to Build a Timeline and Getting Participant into the Moment of the Experience
  • How often do you attend events for the city? Monthly, weekly, daily?
  • What kind of events to you typically attend?
  • What were you thinking when you began to book the activity?
Questions to What is Driving the Individual to Make the Booking
  • When you began the booking process what did you notice right away?
  • What are you apprehensive about when you need to book an event?
  • What are some sites where you have had a good booking experience? Tell me why it was a good experience.
  • What features do you appreciate when booking an event?
  • Tell me about the worst experience you had booking an event.
  • On some sites when you are booking an event, there is a timer for how long you have to purchase. What are your thoughts about that
  • When booking and you have an issue, what method do you prefer to solve it? A live person, an email, chat?
  • How do you prefer to receive confirmations after booking?
  • When booking on your phone do you feel like there is information missing that you would probably see if you were booking from your laptop?
  • Do you prefer to choose your own sections or depending on the venue does it matter to you?
  • When booking, have you needed special assistance information for the venue? Has that been easy to find?
Questions to Understand what the Individual is Hoping for when Event is Booked
  • When you booked your event, what was the first thing you thought about?
  • Was there anything you think that could have improved your experience?

Empathy Map

Based on the findings from the interviews, an empathy map emerged which outlined needs, wants and pain points of online buyers purchasing tickets. This empathy map would serve as the main source for data for the user persona. View larger map.

Introducing…Rick, The Regular Booker!


  • feels the booking process should be very simple, easy and straightforward
  • says if there are too many ads or pop-ups, he will immediately feel that the app will cause him problems
  • will quickly abandon the task and perhaps forget about purchasing the tickets altogether

Phase 2

Define Project Goals

Business goals were outlined according to the client’s objectives and the user goals were based on the interviews and user personas. The shared goals were then outlined to make sure both sides were accommodated in the design process.

Phase 3


Based on this information as well as the previous research, the structure of pages was determined and a user flow was identified.

The Task: To show how Rick would purchase tickets for a dance festival.


With the architecture in place, I created wireframes in Sketch for each screen of the flow.
(Not all features of the app were developed as only the booking process was focused on.)

Branding and UI Design

Phase 4

Prototype & Testing

After testing with the low fidelity prototype and implementing the suggestions, a UI prototype was made interactive with InVision and prepared for the second round of testing.

Reflection & What I Learned

Although I felt a booking site would be relatively easy, the devil is in the details. There are many steps involved to provide a smooth and easy straightforward booking process. This is where I relied heavily on the research. Being able to synthesize the research allowed me to stay inline with the user persona and deliver a well-received design for the consumer.


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designed by traci williams