Punk Rock Bowling Festival App

Project Overview

Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival is an annual three-day event that takes place among several venues in downtown Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. With so many things happening simultaneously—bowling tournament, poker tournament, pool parties, main stage acts, and club acts—attendees were finding it nearly impossible to know what to do at any given time. And synchronizing schedules with friends wasn’t an option.

While attending the festival I quickly discovered this problem and made it my mission to find a solution.

Project Type: Mobile App
Industry: Music Festivals

My Role

• UX Lead
• Principal UX Designer
• UI Designer
• Team Size: 5

I led an interdisciplinary team of 5 people that encompassed all phases of ideation, UX design, UI design, and development.

What I Did

• Concept ideation
• Requirements gathering
• User research
• Task models
• Sitemap
• Wireframes
• Prototyping
• Usability testing
• UI design



User Research

After discovering this gap in the experience, I instinctively when into user research mode. Over the three day event I did some guerrilla research and informally surveyed several attendees to understand what they needed to get the most out of their experience (yes, this is how UX nerds have fun at a music festival). During the weeks that followed, I interviewed several other festival attendees.

The top needs I heard were:
• “I want to see all the things that are happening right now, not just where I am.”
• “I want to be able to make a schedule just for the things I want to do.”
• “I need a map to see where all the venues are.”
• “I want to know where my friends are going to be.”

Discovering Unique User Needs

After meeting and surveying several people in person while at the festival, I quickly came to realize that this project had a few unique user needs that I hadn’t run into in the past. These weren’t normal user conditions and special considerations needed to be taken into account:
  • Many users are drinking or otherwise impaired and need an easy to use mobile app that is fool-proof under these conditions.
  • Users are often in darkened clubs and don’t want to disturb others with the bright glow of their phone as they check their phones.
  • Users need to stay in touch with distinct groupings of people: friends, roommates, bowling team, new friends.

Information Architecture


Task Models

I wrote out the core tasks that festival attendees needed to accomplish most often. These included viewing the schedule of events, adding items to a personalized user schedule, and finding the various venues on a map. I discovered that users would need to view the schedule in a grid format to compare all events by day and time, as well as by list to scan for specific events the user would be looking for. A third view the schedule would be a way to filter all events to see what was added to the users schedule. This process helped me to thoroughly design for all use cases and scenarios.


Using the Task Models as a basis, I developed a sitemap and navigation structure. I started with whiteboarding a few ideas and refined them from there. Once I had the core idea sorted out and refined, I used Omnigraffle to generate a formal Sitemap.

I decided that each of the core functions would be it’s own section of the app and that all of the schedule views (grid, list, and personal) would be different views of one screen so that users could toggle between then easily. All other areas were much simpler.



Screen Sketches

Once the Sitemap was complete, I headed back to the sketchbook and created some initial screen sketches. I worked out a few initial ideas I had while creating the Sitemap which led me to solutions for other screens. I continued to refined them on paper until I had most of them almost completely worked out.


Using the screen sketches as a starting point, I designed the final set of Wireframes.

One of the most interesting discoveries with this particular app was deciding when the daily schedule began and ended. Had I not done the user research at the onset of the project, I might have had each calendar day end at midnight. However, this is Las Vegas so the day usually ends much later and even the hours after midnight are often not considered the next day. Making people search for Friday night’s events under Saturday would cause confusion. I had to account for this by having the day “end” when all the evening’s event had concluded rather than at midnight.

Visual Design


User Interface Designs

One of the main considerations for the UI was the ease of use this app needed to have. It needed to be read instantly as most people were on the go and distracted with everything around them. This meant that I had to keep the cognitive load to a minimum. Also, since many festival attendees would be in darkened clubs, I kept the design dark so it would not disturb others around them.




The app was downloaded over 1200 times by attendees of the 2013 Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival. The app also received high praise from users and a 4.5 star rating in the iTunes store. It has since been developed into its own re-brandable product for other music, food, and movie festivals.

One user commented: “Perfect! I am so happy to see all the shows listed in one place with times too! LOVE how the app helps you listen to all the bands in one place.”

“Our verdict: Hot! Punk Rock Bowling is a highly rated app (4.5-star). The app is free [and] is currently ranked #142 in free Music apps for iPhone.”
iOS Snoops
“Thank you for putting together an amazing app. Everyone was very excited about it and it turned out to be a very useful tool throughout the weekend.”
Mark Stern, Punk Rock Bowling Co-Founder

Let’s Work Together


If you’re looking for advice on your next big idea or you are looking for a seasoned design leader to add to your team, send me note. I am always on the lookout for my next challenge.