Timeline   8 weeks (October - December 2020)
Teammates   Neely Lee, Mike Jin, Nandhini Gounder
Role   Lead UX Researcher
Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST)
KST is a local presenter that supports a diverse and inclusive art community at Pittsburgh for a long time. After an initial interview with stakeholder, we learned that the obstacles KST face is the low engagement rate especially during the Covid pandemic. One of the reasons might be East Liberty having a negative reputation as an “unsafe” neighborhood.
Right now, there are no compelling incentives for regular and new audiences to attend shows at KST or explore East Liberty and get to know the neighborhood.
Stakeholder at KST:
How to increase new & regular audience's engagement with KST during COVID times? 
​​​After the understanding KST’s high-level problem, we want to further understand KST status before narrowing down the problem and come up with several directions for solution brainstorming.
How did the audiences know about KST show information?
Quantitative Data for marketing strategy helps us to visualize the effectiveness of each type of the marketing tactics for newcomers & regular customers.
We understand that KST's most efficient marketing strategy is by word of mouth.

⇨ Brainstorm about how to increase KST exposure
What were the show experiences of the former audiences?
Qualitative data coming from the KST audience is a significant to analyze how they feel, think, and view the KST. We decide to conduct a thematic analysis based on their comments and create an affinity map.

⇨ Brainstorm about improving audience experiences for different phases
Where do audiences go after a KST show?
Synthesizing the marketing results with the establishments help us understand: people enjoy the restaurants around KST

⇨ Brainstorm about enhancing neighborhood restaurants & KST connection 
After understanding the client data from primary research, and considering the pandemic situation, we move passed brainstorming for physical experiences or conventional advertising technics. In fact, we are curious about how the neighborhood restaurants can build more connection since restaurants seem like a hug draw for new & regular audiences.

One of the KST core mission is to BE A NEIGHBORHOOD DESTINATION: accelerating the transformation of East Liberty as a destination for cultural entertainment and business opportunity. Given that KST values the neighborhood transformation, we turn to research about East Liberty and try to find a way to revitalize the neighborhood which also benefits KST.
Understand people's motivations for going to KST neighborhood - East Liberty
Before we jump into designing how we think may best engage more customers for KST, we question ourselves:
1.  How might we leverage regular customers into making more recommendations to a larger audience?
2. How might we build a more intimate connection with the regular & new customers?
3.  How might we build sustainable partnerships between users, KST, and local businesses?
In order to answer these questions:
We reframed the problem using reverse assumption. We broke the insights down into different assumptions and reversed it. In particular, the team was inclined to “creating a rewards/credit system based-on the KST website.”
However, before we dive deeper into this idea, we conducted a think-aloud research that serve as a quick competitive analysis on learning about what people think about other theater websites. Also seek for more solutions and interesting ideas that we might be able to add in our design.​​​​​​​

Through contextual inquiry, we learned about people's main motivation in going to East Liberty, KST, and other local establishments, as well as the incentives that will bring back people and possibly expand the community.
Users may have incentives about a credit system and restaurant discounts on the sign up page can draw more user attention.

The research method that we have used include direct storytelling, sequence model and artifact analysis. These research method are all embedded in the the semi-structured interview. After interview, we use affinity diagram to synthesize all data.

Script for contextual inquiry: I recruited a potential new audience, Angela Chen

Synthesized user data. Affinity diagramming again!

Tester quote highlights

Conduct speed dating to gather users’ reactions and leverage insights using storyboards based on user needs.
Focusing on reward system, but also adding in features generated through other storyboards:
1.   Point system
2.  A platform to get KST info
3.  Limited time offer of east Liberty Restaurants
4.  Advertise shows/East Liberty
KST Reward System
We believe this service has potential to create a strong bond between audience and KST, not only making theater goers want to come back, but also bring new audiences to KST. 
We are envisioning this to be an additional service building on top of their existing mobile website and since people are familiar with the idea of a point-rewarding system already, implementing such system will not create any learning burden making them feel comfortable and confident when using it.
Low-fidelity to High-fidelity Experience Prototype
We want to test the following questions using the prototype:
1.   How well can this service incentivize audiences in coming to more shows at KST?
2.  Whether users think the general flow of this service is clear and plausible?
3.  Whether users thinks that this additional feature on their website can build more engagement with users, keep users updated with coming shows, incentivize theater goers to come again?

After testing the prototypes with 4 users, we iterated on the flow to be more user-friendly.

Revised user-flow and interface

KST Reward System serve as an additional service for KST mobile website to make the show information & East Liberty restaurant information more accessible
The main focus is to provide regular & new customers reward points for purchasing tickets at KST shows, so that they can then exchange for discounts and offers at East Liberty shops and restaurants. 

The color choice was to match KST official website. I tested this prototype with a student living near KST. The purpose of this final testing is mostly about the color & wording choices, and also how to better track points. This is the final mockup ⇩
Receiving positive feedback from KST stakeholder was truly rewarding: “This idea is great for bonding this community and the neighborhood together!” 
One of the KST core missions is to BE A NEIGHBORHOOD DESTINATION and this project accelerates the transformation of this area as a destination for cultural entertainment and business opportunity.

What I've learned
I was told by my testers that the accessibility can be improved because sometimes the words are too small for smaller screen size phones. And I think having a design system as we design the screens can be a solution, to standardize and ensure each screen is accessible.
Also, leading is challenging because I always have to keep track of every teammate and lead the discussion. And of course provide as much help for them as possible.
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