The Origin Story
Untz...Untz...Untz...Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has made it's way into music lover hearts since the 70's. Although the sound has evolved over the years, EDM has become more than just music, it's an experience, a community.
An avid EDM listener myself and event attendee, to my surprise, there are limited social apps dedicated to the rave community despite the growing popularity and a strong global presence - the three largest EDM festivals in the world welcomed well over one million attendees just last year (2019).
Why hasn't this niche market been tapped into just yet?
RaveFam is a social media platform connecting the EDM community.
It is also my final mobile case study/ passion project done while completing the User Experience Design Course at General Assembly.
The Design Challenge
The intention for this project was to design a mobile social community that created deeper connections between ravers where they can connect after events with like-minded individuals and feel comfortable sharing their experiences, insights, and freely express their creativity and unique individuality.
My goals were to:
Build the foundation of the beginnings of an online Rave community
Have an events calendar to keep track of upcoming events and artists
Develop a way to share various forms of media
Create a fun and whimsical environment similar to that found at EDM events
I was the sole designer on this project gathering feedback from ravers, classmates, and my instructor.
My tasks included the end-to-end design process: User Research, Wireframing, Information Architecture, Visual Design, Prototyping, and Usability Testing.
(Above) A final prototype screen. Keep scrolling through my case study to see how it all came together!
Within the past decade, EDM has taken on the music scene by storm with a rise in popularity. The proof is in the numbers.
Rave Culture is a Lifestyle
Looking past the hard numbers, rave culture is much more than just attending events, it is a lifestyle. The rave community brings people from all walks-of-life together, supporting positivity, creativity, and uplifting each other.
In a world structures around so many societal confinements, electronic music provides a magical escape without judgment or limitations. The only requirements for joining the EDM community are good vibes, PLUR and a love for the music.
-Mariann Roberts, iHeartRaves
Planning out the Research
Having done the research, I was pretty set on choosing raving as a topic and it was time to hear out and see what ravers had to say. To help stay on track - I created a research plan prior to conducting user research interviews.
Discover how to better connect ravers outside of EDM events.
What can allow ravers to feel a part of the rave community?
Young at Heart
What is the rave community lacking?
What do users need out of the community?
How do users stay connected?
What, How, Why?
28, Client Services
Los Angeles, CA
14 years of raving
“I have three separate accounts.. I don’t want my interests to mix or.. having to sift through just to see rave related content..”
8 years of raving
“It’s hard to feel the community once you leave an event”
Los Angeles, CA
2 years of raving
“I try to avoid posting rave related stuff on my public account because I’m afraid someone.. will judge me”
I conducted 6 user interviews with millennial ravers (ages 20-28) varying in rave experience from decade ravers to first-time ravers.
The user interviews allowed for direct insight from ravers that actively engage with the community, via physical events and social media, enabling me to understand potential problem areas they face.
Distilling the User Interviews:
They Feel Part of a Greater Community
All interviewees mentioned they felt a connection with other ravers while at EDM events and expressed their love for raving.
They Want to Share Memories
All interviewees share their memories via social media to relive past experiences. Two interviewees shared their worry about their public image thus created private secondary accounts to post on.
They Need Easier Access
Most interviewees expressed their frustrations accessing event information, general rave tips, and creative inspiration. They mentioned the pain and extra work of having to use multiple platforms to obtain what they needed.
They Need Help Staying Organized
All interviewees mentioned they have no clear organized method of keeping track of shows, concerts, festivals and meetups resulting in missed opportunities and FOMO.
Using the results of the interviews, I looked to create personas who embody the traits of the target audience. I chose to create the first-time raver as the user is new to the community and looking to jump right in!
Cole S. First-Time Raver
20 years old
Los Angeles, CA
1st year of raving
Never knows what to wear - doesn’t know where to start!
Doesn’t like having to go on different websites to find information
Discover new artists to stay “in the know”
Easy way to find group outfit inspiration
Feel comfortable posting personal content
Wants to comfortably post rave related content without any judgment
To access, schedule, and share upcoming events and shows
Learn more about the community
Ravers need a central platform to share and access content online because they want to stay connected with and feel a part of the rave community.
How Many Competitors?
Hint - ONE.
Based on market research, I identified the demographic as being age 18-35 years old and had a better understanding of what platforms were out there.
I identified several direct and indirect competitors to analyze their features to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
The direct competitors are social media platforms, Radiate being the only EDM focused app, while the indirect competitors are EDM related focusing on the music and events.
Highlights: Social network focused on EDM. Creating connections and sharing content & events.
Cons: Not much PLUR, upvoting content misses out on other, groups are not moderated (solicitations)
Highlights: Social network. Creating and sharing events.
Cons: Too broad in finding one main EDM community.
Highlights: Visual timeline & discover page to browse other profiles. Share media and video.
Cons: Too broad in finding one main EDM community. Need to make multiple accounts to access a specific algorithm.
Highlight Feature: Message boards allowing the sharing of insights, tips, and opinions. Cover range of EDM topics. Sense of community.
Cons: UI not very user friendly. No personalized profile to share.
Give the Ravers What they Want!
(or in this case, what they need)
Keeping in mind the user persona, Cole, a first-time raver, I brainstormed and prioritized potential features to best meet his needs: post content, discover new artists and find inspiration.
Above all, this app is meant to be a social platform thus social media features are a must followed by EDM-event catered needs such as a personalized and editable events schedule.
Features to build out first
So Many Features!
But What Stays?
Deciphering features to include in the app, the project needed to be phased out prioritizing the features with the most value for users.
With a focus on a social sharing app, features that aligned with content sharing, personalized profile and messaging were a priority plus these seemed realistic and doable thinking about my future mobile developers.
Accounts & Posts
The project quickly got messy the further I dove into its' potential with the various app features in mind. How would a first time user use this app? Was there a clear trajectory to complete tasks? There was only one way to test this out - user flows.
Below is a snippet of RaveFam, showcasing onboarding and photo/ video posting user flow.
Prompt 1 - Create an Account
There needed to be a straightforward way to onboard a first-time user with minimal steps yet being able to get adequate user information.
Prompt 2 - Create First Post
Creating a new post needed to be quick to do without much fluff to distract the user from completing their task and sharing with the community. The more the user can contribute the more nuanced the community will become.
Prompt 1: Cole is new to RaveFam and needs to create an account!
Prompt 2: Cole wants to make his first post!
Main #1 Competitor
We believe that by creating a social app focused on EDM events, rave culture, experiences, and insights, we will achieve fostering an online community for ravers.
We will know this to be true when we see ravers engaging with the app’s features and interacting with each other through messaging, sharing, and posting content.
Let the Fun (Organization) Begin!
With all these cool features, I needed to visually see how the structure of the app would be organized. There was a lot of shuffling features around.
After multiple iterations, I finalized the blueprints and was content with how the app mapped out. Aiming to not overcomplicate the app by placing features within multiple tiers, features were easily accessible ideally making this a smooth experience for the user.
Mood Board :)
Prior to getting started on the design of the screens, I pulled inspiration imagery of what I envisioned this product to be - an explosion of rave culture.
The mood board drew upon the following concepts:
Vibrant Colors - conveying the bursts of bold visuals and the energy experienced at raves
Community - the core principle of the product
PLUR (Peace, Love Unity, Respect) - the principles ravers believe in and embrace
Sketches and Wireframes:
Back to Basics
With ideas swimming in my head and an understanding of the direction the app would take, I put felt pen to paper and sketched out screen variations - plenty of them. After trial and error, I translated the successful versions into low-fidelity wireframes to understand the layout and feature placement.
Social Feed Screen
1. Scroll through fam and see temporary shared pics + videos
2. Leave comments + responses on posts
1. Scroll through favorite artists
2. Customized events calendar
3. View upcoming events
1. Scroll through favorite artists
2. Customized events calendar
3. View upcoming events
Event Page Screen
1. Event information (date, location, ticket price, and attendees)
2. Add event to calendar,
favorite, and share
Iteration is Key
After designing the first round of high fidelity screens, users tested the prototype following specific task scenarios to help identify things that worked well and areas for improvement. All (6) users completed their tasks with flying colors!
Feedback received included:
Clearer screen tabs; users vocalized confusion on whether tabs were buttons
Edit down number of buttons per screen - there was a sensory overload on the profile screen
Color hard to read
Tabs or buttons?
Too many buttons
Branding & Visual Design
Looking at the prototype as a whole - there was something major missing. All those inspirations emphasized in the mood board, where were the bold visuals in the app?
How could this app appeal to ravers? Visual imagery. I went to the drawing boards and chose to pursue fun, quirky, energetic graphics to embody that same raver energy. The characters and illustrations are peppered throughout the app.
Folding in the feedback from the usability test, the final screens ensured the designs meet the user's needs and the product as a whole felt cohesive.
The final clickable prototype follows Cole's (remember our user persona?) first time experience using RaveFam! See his journey through the app below!
View: First-Time Raver
The experience a first-time raver has going through the app: signing up, posting to the social feed, and adding an event to their calendar.
During the onboarding process, users are given various options to log into the app depending on preference. The goal here is to be inclusive right from the start!
Once an account is created, users are introduced to the Housekeeping Rules to help instill the values and vibe of the community.
To help new users get started and "grow their rave fam", an optional interests page offers the opportunity to select categories that then populates the user's social feed with recommended accounts.
Social Feed & Posting
The social feed is organized in real-time order. Users can comment and engage with one another through sharing, commenting, and sending kudos.
To share personal content on the social feed, users can choose one of three options: text, photo, and video or share live content through the Moments feature.
The messaging feature allows users to communicate both directly and in large groups.
Direct Messages: Users can receive and send direct messages to one another.
Groups Messages: To connect on a larger scale, users can create groups with friends and/or join other groups to find users with similar interests. Expand the fam!
Profiles pages are meant to be personalized!
Users can easily customize their about me, next event, and profile photo. To keep things organized, users can also find their shared photos, videos, text posts, upcoming events, and albums (moments).
Explore other RaveFam accounts easily. Utilizing hashtags, users can discover trending topics or simply use the search bar.
On the Discover Page, users can scroll through endless content where they can find anything from inspiration for their next rave outfit to reliving DJ sets (or share in the fomo).
Users can link their Spotify or Apple Music accounts to find festivals/shows in their area based on their favorited artists.
Calendar & Events
To avoid the FOMO effect and ensure users do not miss out on seeing their favorite DJ, the Events feature lists upcoming festivals, shows, and live streams, and offers a personalized events calendar.
Users can explore upcoming events by using filters or searching based on their selected locations.
Each festival and show has an information page loaded with all the information users could need. Users can also add these events to their calendar, share with others and discover more about the artist/event.
But what if a user wants to keep track of set times or schedule a meetup? My Cal has the option to create a new event and share it with friends or groups!
I loved working on a topic that I’m very passionate about - made the design process of RaveFam all the more fun! But as with all projects, here are a few things I would have done differently.
#1. Mistakes are okay. This being my first go at a UX project, the process was new to me and there were challenges aplenty. I trusted the process and rolled with the punches. I ultimately came out feeling comfortable with the process and confident to take on new projects!
#2. More Research! For the sake of time and to keep the design process going, decisions had to be made quickly. But to further validate design decisions, I would have liked to take my research one step further: sending out surveys, more user testing, etc.
Hand-off the design to developers or continue to tweak and test?
I truly believe this product can take-off. The prototype displays the extents of the MVP and is a good peek into the power of the original idea. There is nothing like this on the market (catered to the EDM crowd) and no end in sight for the rave community, if anything it is only growing in numbers.
So what's next?
I would use agile methods to help ship this product
Develop a business plan to stir interest in investors and stakeholders.
Interested in contributing to this venture? Let's get talking!