Project Oakland Symphony


Project Scope

2 weeks | 4 designers

Role | UX Designer

Tools | Sketch, InVision

Methods | User Research, Affinity Mapping, Personas, Brainstorm, Design Studio, Prioritization Matrix, Prototype, Prototype Testing


The Oakland Symphony has a rich history dating back more than 80 years serving a diverse population through artistic excellence, community service and education programs. Their audience consists of an older crowd, but it wants to attract younger generations - particularly millennials. 


My team embarked on a design sprint to create an app with interesting concert offerings like "Movie Night" that are more relevant to Millennials. 


The Process:


So, where did we start? 

 We asked our millennial friends. They were:

  • Millennials with classical music backgrounds

  • Millennials who were heavily involved or into the music scene

  • Between age 18–35 (in 2016)

Our assumptions:

  • Classical music is uncool
  • Classical music is for old people

Our findings:

  • Appreciation for classical music
  • They listened to classical music to relax or concentrate
  • They don’t often attend classical music events

To Affinity and Beyond: Further Defining Our Users and Problem


With the information we gathered from interviews, we did an Affinity Map to synthesize common behaviors, goals/needs, stories and pain points. The key take-aways were:

  • Needed Interesting Programming /Environments— modern, seasonal, outdoors, film scores
  • Money — they weren’t willing to pay more than $50 for a concert
  • Social — they didn’t go because they didn’t have anyone to go with

The Millennials’ Problem

Millennials wanted new/interesting events to go to with their friends and they didn’t see how the current Oakland Symphony offerings were that relevant to them.

The Millennials: Who Are These Cool Kids?


We defined our users into 2 distinct personas. Since the Oakland Symphony wants to attract more Millennials, we chose to target Chris as our main persona as she represented a large portion of the Millennial population.

Brainstorming Ideas: Getting It Out of Our Heads


We threw all of our ideas onto the whiteboard and the result was massive!

  • We got practical — millennials enjoy drinking, eating food and watching movies
  • Looked at adjacent markets — an outdoor symphony festival similar to Outside Lands and Coachella
  • We got crazy — underwater orchestra and pet adoption

Brainstorm Solutions

We went through our ideas and chose some the ideas that were the most interesting and/or viable. Some of them were:

Interesting event ideas: themed events, orchestra plays to live movie soundtrack, collaborations with celebrities, classical meets modern (i.e. breakdancing to classical music), alcohol served in seats, dinner at the symphony, live stream of concerts for free outdoors, annual interactive festival, silent disco party, studying at the symphony cafe, open mic

Addressing social issues: Concerts with friends, tying in social media (Facebook for future events and Instagram/Snapchat for in the moment)

Making it familiar: trailers, open rehearsals, “muse” — teaching/introducing kids to classical music

Let’s Prioritize

To gain more clarity, we used a Prioritization Matrix to determine the ease of implementation, user importance and business importance with a 1 to 3 point rating system. The total score ranked each feature into order of priority. We used this method to determine which of our ideas were most viable. Movie night, drinks, event trailers, flash sales, social viewing, dinner at the symphony were at the top of the list. 2 viable options to pursue as concert offerings were (which we also further defined as):

Movie Night: live soundtracks to movies
Dinner at the Symphony: for dates/for friends


Design Studio: Let’s Make An App


Lo-Fi Prototype

Together, we drew out what we might think the app would look like. We created a lo-fi paper prototype to test if trailers helped users in understanding the Movie Night programming, if the seating chart familiarized the Oakland Symphony experience, but most importantly how Movie Night and Dinner at the Symphony would be received. 

What is Movie Night? What is Dinner at the Symphony? Both events were of interests to our users, but we had to explain what these events entailed. For Dinner at the Symphony, there was more confusion around whether eating was done prior at a local restaurant or dine-in at the Symphony. For the sake of having a MVP, we chose to build out Movie Night first.

Moving Into Hi-Fi Movie Night Prototype: Iteration Process

The event page evolved to relevant movie trailer prominence, less events listed on page, and an Upcoming Events header.

Our users weren't expecting to land on a Movie Night event listing nor necessarily understood what it was. When we explained it, they thought it was a great idea, but there was a gap in familiarity from the Oakland Symphony landing page to the Movie Night event page. We tried to bridge the gap with an onboarding flow, but didn't solve the problem. 

In Conclusion

Movie Night was well received and Millennials were excited to attend events of this nature. With the app we have created, we have addressed Oakland Symphony’s problem in providing more relevant events to Millennials.


Discoverability is still an issue at this point as we’ve continued to explore how we could bridge that gap. We had began designing a new landing page using more descriptive verbage and endorsing sponsored events to more readily address the issue. Future development and testing is needed.

Dinner at the Symphony was of interest to our users. The success of Movie Night indicates that we can continue to build and test other concert offerings.

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