Events Plus

Solution for finding split friends at music events

Project: Design Challenge

Duration: Jan 30 - Feb 8, 2017 (10 days)

Type: Individual

Role: UX Designer

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This project was completed for a design challenge from the company Zappos to be done within a period of 10 days.

Design Challenge

The Zappos design challenge as provided presents the following situation:

“You and your friends are ready and set for a full day of fun at this year's biggest music festival. Half way into the day, you somehow get split up from the group. Unfortunately, you’ve been taking pictures and posting them to social media all day long, and your phone is on the brink of dying. Being at a music festival, the venue provides very little to no cell reception to begin with and you’ve neglected to agree on any rendezvous plans.

The challenge is to conceptualize and design a solution that helps others find their friends easily in similar situations.”

Situational Challenges



Negligible phone battery

No network reception

Huge crowds & noise

Design Process


Day 1

Day 10

User Research

Design Insight


Final Solution

User Research

User Survey

To understand who the users are their needs, habits, and motivations; I sent out a 19-question survey to users through multiple university group emails and posting in social media. The questions primarily touched upon their habits when going to such events, ticket booking, cell phone usage, splitting and then locating friends, and so on. The results were then analyzed to come up with a design solution. Some key results which helped me drive my design decisions are shown below.

Click here to access the full survey and results.

Key Findings




is the usual group strength when going to music festivals


of the respondents were of the age group 18-35 years


use the event’s website to book tickets


quoted manual search and cell phone service like calling or texting to locate friends


do not have a huge inclination to download an app specifically meant for the music festival and would use it if absolutely necessary.


have experienced being separated from their friends or group more than once in the past, which validates an intervention for this problem.


of the respondents spent around 20 minutes to find their friend(s).

User Interviews

The survey respondents were also asked if they were interested in a brief discussion to get more insights about their experiences. I was able to speak with three people – 2 male and 1 female, all graduate students in their mid-20s. 

"Often, phones don't have service at music festivals so you're left to just search around"

"If my/their phone had been dead, I would have searched around manually, and eventually asked the info booth to make a loudspeaker announcement"

"Wait at an obvious and common location, eg. Info desk"

"I feel like making a loudspeaker announcement would be disruptive to other guests and embarrassing for my friend"

Target Users

Based on the survey results, I got a clear understanding of who my users are and what their needs and motivations are. Primarily, they are young adults, mostly students who share an interest in music and like to hang out in groups. The persona below gives a depiction of the target user.


Brainstorming and Storyboarding

To come up with a solution, the following key takeaways were kept in mind based on the user research results:


Most users use website to book tickets

They are comfortable with technology, but do not savor the idea of using cell-phone a lot for such events

Most would rely on manual search or information booths in case of network failure

Brainstorming Sketches


Website booking: group name & details entered, and email received


Split-up: Visit to kiosk


Scan QR code or enter group details to use kiosk screen


Use event maps or VR camera to locate you friend(s).

Design Solution


The final solution was refined based upon the brainstorming exercise and story-boarding. The final solution is essentially divided into two broad parts: 1) the booking phase, and 2) the event phase. The final solution is described below as a journey map from the booking stage to splitting up with you friend.



The Booking Phase

Since 80% users cited websites as their primary source of booking, I included website booking as a part of my solution. During the booking stage, the users have an option to book as a group where they enter a unique group name which will act as an identifier later on, and name and contact details of each of their group members before finalizing the booking.


After confirming their booking, they are presented with a prompt that an email has been sent to them with the booking details as well a QR code (can be used later on as an option).



Another prompt after the confirmation success prompt asks them if they want to download the app – which will have every information and tool they need to find their friend(s) if their phone is still working. Otherwise, they can simply reach the details from the email.


The reason for this prompt is that many users quoted using a mobile app for such an event as something they usually not do, hence a prompt to nudge them in downloading for their convenience.

The Event Phase

From the user survey and interaction, it was clear that they found manual search combined with any information available from help desks to be useful if cell phone wasn’t an option. Therefore, based on this I proposed a digital and self-serve version of the information desks – kiosks mounted with tablets or screens that are rotatable. Broadly the solution for this phase combines two aspects:

           Tablets or screens mounted over kiosks to locate friends in the event of cell-phones prove ineffective.

           Search capabilities built within the kiosk screens.


Mounted at around 3-4 feet above ground level

360 degree rotation

Vertical adjustment

The kiosk screens can be located at suitable intervals towards the edge or along the aisles a good distance away from the stage and around 3-4 feet above ground level for a broader field of view. These screens since also utilize Augmented Reality, are vertically adjustable according to the user’s height and comfort, as well as 360-degree rotatable for complete field of view.



To find his or her friend, the user just has to go to the nearest screen. Either he/she can use the QR code emailed to them from the front-camera of the screen or enter details if phone is dead.

Considering the worst-case scenario – a dead phone, the user enters the group name, name and email or phone number. A group name instead of a password was used as it has a better memory retention. 






A quick log-in lets them access their portal which lists some common uses, one of them being – ‘Split from a friend?’

Selecting that option takes them to  a screen about their group, where they are shown all the members who were entered as a part of the group while booking.




Depending upon who all the user wants to find, he/she selects them and proceeds by tapping the find button.

The find button takes them to a map interface of the event zone, which shows a tracked location of the friend. Based on the details entered during booking, the in-built GPS tracking in kiosk is able to locate people considering their phone is almost dead but still working. If the phone is dead, history feature can be used as explained later.







To better visualize their location, the user is also presented with a Augmented Reality (AR) Camera View which pinpoints the friend’s location in the camera. As the screen is 360-degree rotatable, the user has a full-view to search.


If the friend’s phone is dead, user can check the history which shows last 2-3 locations of the friend 30 minutes in history from when the phone went dead. 





Overall, the design solution was an attempt to innovate and improvise finding the traditional ways people usually follow when splitting from their friend(s) at music events which were quoted in user research. The solution took into account the very ticket booking phase to the eventual in situ splitting experience, and how to connect them with each other. In future, I would definitely aim to take this a step further through more in-depth user studies and usability tests.