Every fall, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) organizes a city-wide festival called Time Based Art (TBA), one of the premier showcases of contemporary performance, film and art in the country. Until this year, festival-goers had only two sources for event information: a print catalogue and a website that was designed for the desktop browsing experience, including extensive Flash elements and a lot of non-festival content. With the rise of mobile web browsing, PICA sought out a mobile version of the site that provided all the important information through a very clean interface.
When we sat down with PICA to plan the new user experience, we completely reconsidered what the user would need. Because every element of the mobile site would have to be recreated using existing website elements, our job was to strategically pare down the options and create new page layouts that allowed people to quickly access event information, pull up a map, purchase tickets, and make the most of their TBA experience.
“We completely reconsidered what the user would need.”
Among the most interesting project challenges was to create a “Featured Event” display that helped users sort through the many TBA events (hundreds of showtimes across dozens of artists and a handful of categories) with ease. The home page features the most current performance, dynamically changing so users never miss a beat. During the festival’s most frenetic days, users will see constantly refreshed content based on the most relevant information for that very second.
“…add information once and have it propagate both the mobile and browser properties.”
We worked with the marketing designer and communications manager at PICA to create a site map and wireframes that translated into a beautiful design. Switchyard developed new templates that automatically render when page requests come from a mobile browser, which allows PICA to maintain both sites without extra effort. By working with the existing .NET application that PICA uses to manage its existing web presence, we were essentially able to create a unique second site that allows PICA to add information once and have it propagate both the mobile and browser properties.
Now, users who access http://pica.org from a mobile browser are seamlessly redirected to http://m.pica.org, the mobile site. This provides users more time to research and schedule festival events. Previously, the printed catalogue was the only source of information and was less reliable as details change between the time of print and the day of the show. And with dynamic features like mapping and sharing coded directly into all event details, the mobile site will become even more useful during festival dates.
In addition, PICA is now able to sell memberships and accept donations through the mobile site, enabling users who want to donate based on a particularly strong event to do so literally as they walk out the door or on their way home. And for attendees on the move, the site has local and visitor information such as links to public transportation and resources for out-of-town guests.
Finally, users can now join a wider conversation during festival events by using mobile-only links to the live #TBA10 Twitter feed and the PICA feed. As strong supporters of the arts in Portland, (and big fans of the PICA staff), we’re proud to have made the TBA festival more accessible and exciting than ever.