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Cirque du Soleil

Optimization of online ticketing

About the company and the project

Cirque du Soleil is a Montreal-based entertainment company and the largest contemporary circus producer in the world.

I was hired by the e-commerce manager to optimize the online ticket purchasing experience.

Stakeholders of the project

The project had several “stakeholders”. First, the sales team, who are the main users of the ticket platform. They manage all the ticket sale campaigns around the world. Then, the e-commerce team, who manage the website and are accountable for its performance. Finally, the development team. The ticket platform was developed by a partner company (partially owned by Cirque du Soleil), who are the technical experts of the platform.

In order to better understand the expectations and visions of the different stakeholders, we decided to conduct a design studio workshop with all of them.

We started by presenting a data analysis of the current system performances. We also presented a benchmark on other websites in the ticketing industry. The conclusion of these researches was that the step of the seat selection could be improved in order to help customers better understand “what they were paying for” as well as making the process faster for customers interested in a “best seat” option. Cirque du Soleil shows often take place in a “chapiteau” where the seating options are numerous and very different.

Design studio workshop

Afterwards, we started the design studio workshop. The goal of the workshop was to generate ideas and discussions on how to improve the seat selection process. The design had to be “responsive” with a “mobile first” approach. The workshop unfolded as follow:

The workshop went very well. Participants felt comfortable with the task as they all had a good knowledge of the system (they were either users, managers or creators of the system). They all had an equal opportunity to express their ideas and opinions - via their sketches and/or when presenting their sketches. At the end of the workshop, the best ideas were democratically voted with the method of the dot stickers.

Design studio sketches

My job was to digest all this information and propose new designs for the system.

Even more valuable that the ideas generated, the workshop allowed me, as well as the other attendees, to gain a better understanding of the different stakeholders expectations. The drawing exercices really sparked the discussions and everybody had a chance to speak their mind.

The benefits of a design studio workshop are multiple: it creates a sense of involvement, develops a collaboration mindset and allows the design team to quickly gather information and requirements about the project. The design studio excells in projects with tight timelines and fast workflows. However, it may not fit all projects. In general, it requires that participants have a good or general knowledge of the subject matter.

User tests and prototyping

Two interface concepts emerged from the first design mock ups. The team was torn between the two options. As the performance of online ticketing is vital for a show company, managers wanted to be sure to pick the best option. Developping different versions of the pages and doing live A/B testing was not an option as it would have required too much development efforts. It was decided that the options will be tested with prototypes. I realized the prototypes with Axure RP, a wireframing and prototyping software. It was the quickest way to build the prototypes. The prototypes had a lot of interactions and animations inside pages, we reached the limits of Axure as a protyping tool. In the end, the prototypes were good enough to test the two different options. The tests were a success, they clearly identified the best of the two options.

I did not participate in the user tests. They were carried out by a third party. Even though I have a good experience conducting user tests, I think it is ethically better that the team that worked on the design does not participate to the user tests. Actually, I have often witnessed conflict of interests when the design and user tests were carried out by the same company, even if it involved different people.

The prototypes mentioned in this case study can be found below. They might be a bit hard to figure out since I haven't really gone into the details of the project in this case study.

Desktop versions:

Option A

Option B

Option C

Mobile versions:

Option A

Option B

Option C