YPlan was UK's largest event discovery platform, started with the goal of bringing the best of what’s happening in cities like London and New York into a curated mobile experience.
Built and managed a product design team of 4
Developed and maintained a design language across iOS, Android, web and event management tools
User research, prototyping, UI design
Web platform's revenue grew from zero to half of YPlan's total revenue
iOS and Android apps multiple times featured on Apple's App Store and Google Play Store
Increase in self-serving partners and events
YPlan was started as a curated shortlist of 10 events that change every day.
While applauded by the customers in app reviews, it soon became apparent that less is not always better. Having joined as a creative director, I was tasked with translating the app into web experience that enabled expanding the event inventory and cheaper customer acquisition via search ads.
Having app as benchmark, we started looking at people's booking and discovery behavior as a foundation for the website. While our app customers were keen to book inexpensive last minute events, they rarely booked events with a higher price point. With that in mind, the website was designed as a complement for the app, allowing for an in-depth filtering, extensive metadata and ability to book months in advance.
Our checkout funnel had to work for events ranging from West End Theatre shows bookable months in advance to spontaneous booking of a small local comedy show.
Optimizing conversion rate was key in order to lower customer acquisition cost and attract new events to sell through YPlan. We knew that we needed to get into the minds of different bookers, to truly understand their behavior and priorities when booking theatre, music and other big event categories.
London's West End Theatre is a perfect case study of a highly specific event vertical. When deciding whether or not to see the show, customers consider multiple variables such as date, time, price and a position of the seat in the theatre.
Contrary to most of our customers, theatre goers are more likely to plan months in advance, and be flexible with their dates, to get the best possible deal.
Building on customer interviews and data, we developed a custom flow with the ability to select seats in the seat-plan of a specific venue, and quickly see the lowest price for any given show months in advance.
For contrast, the booking flow for simpler one-off events was built around the same design system, yet had a significantly simpler flow.
With over 5M of downloads, YPlan's app has become a standard going out app for most Londoners.
One of the key challenges for me was to adjust the mobile experience so it could accommodate an increasing number of events, without loosing the simplicity and ease of use, which has brought YPlan so much following and love from its users in the first place.
Looking at the data and talking to customers, made it clear that a lot of people were having a hard time bookmarking their favorite events or even finding their tickets.
Event discovery and search, booking and on-site use were all very different use-cases, and that distinction had to be clearly delineated in the app's navigation. Iterating through a series of prototypes we arrived at a tab based navigation UI, that highlights the most important section of our app.
Sorting & Filtering
In addition to navigation, we had to provide alternative ways to get to the content that people need. Looking at the main use-cases, we introduced filters and sorting as secondary devices to facilitate the main navigation.
Specific and unambiguous properties such as Category or Date were used as filters, others that are more abstract (Best Match, Popularity) or can be better described as a part of a range (Price, Distance) became part of sorting.
To bring the app in-line with the desktop experience, we translated the seat-map booking into our native apps.
Optimizing for the supply side of the marketplace
While important, customers are only one half of any marketplace. In order to grow our inventory, we needed to switch to a full self-serve model with event organizers independently creating and managing their events on our platform.
Having gone through a series of interviews with event organizers, we quickly learnt that they were rougly split into two camps - one of them wanted a powerful and flexible system, others wanted to spend as little time as possible and only needed the basics. We decided to start with a simple framework, that would satisfy the basic needs of most, and iteratively build vertical specific features learning from event organizers.
Helping our partners to set up events, was a logical place to start.
We made a series of quick and dirty interactive prototypes, and brought them to the event organizers hands to get their feedback.
It soon became obvious, that the most challenging part will be the set up of dates, times and tickets. While some partners had a simple one day and time event, others had a complex structure of recurring dates, times and different prices. Our system had to work for both.
Building on our findings, we built a completely self-service platform that allowed for a quick performance overview and ticket management for both desktop and mobile.
As a result, YPlan's supply side became completely self-sufficient, requiring a minimal oversight from our content team and allowing to easily scale to different cities.
Finally, we developed a standalone access management app, which allowed to sync the data from the event to the main dashboard in real time.
We spent days observing YPlan's events to understand what should be the ideal experience of someone standing at the entrance door of a busy event. Optimized for use in an extremely noisy environment, the app features bold colors and gestural swiping UI.