Bumbershoot Reboot: Rethinking the Festival Experience

Festival season just officially kicked off with Coachella, and at Fjord Seattle, we’re eagerly awaiting our own outdoor music and arts fest, Bumbershoot, which takes place over Labor Day Weekend. However, while we’re excited for the fest, we’re also incapable of completely turning off our design minds, and we couldn’t help but envision some ways the festival could be enhanced — namely, by taking the axe to their current app to create a more fun, functional user experience.

So naturally, we got to work.


When rethinking the Bumbershoot experience, we immediately noticed the overwhelming need for solutions that could smooth out the disconnect between Bumbershoot’s current physical and digital experiences.

To determine these solutions, we began by studying existing festival applications, such as those for Sasquatch and Coachella, which provided inspiration and sparked discussion that informed the next phase of discovery work. We then embarked on a complete breakdown of the current Bumbershoot app to determine what worked and what didn’t.

We also conducted guerilla research by interviewing friends and family about their experiences interacting with the current app. From these discussions, we discovered the primary flaws and identified specific pain points:

· Overwhelms the user with unnecessary information,

· Doesn’t really give users the option to share anything with friends, and

· Lacks an overall, clearly defined purpose.

After this analysis, we pinpointed three major friction points in the current digital-to-physical experience of Bumbershoot and looked at the questions attendees found themselves constantly asking during a typical music festival:

· What shows are next on my schedule?

· Where is that stage?

· Where are my friends?!

Then, we thought about the best ways to answer these questions.


While there are many possible reasons why a user would download the Bumbershoot app, we found scheduling and wayfinding solutions to be the most important for users and the areas we should focus on to create a useful and meaningful app experience.

With those goals in mind, we first focused on tackling the best way to organize festivalgoers’ Bumbershoot schedules. This resulted in a solution that showcased all of the festival options while providing a sharable and easily editable schedule that would ultimately help each festivalgoer plan their day and coordinate with their friends.

Secondly, we dove into wayfinding solutions that would help the user navigate the festival itself.

To do this, we created preliminary designs for a navigable app that would enable the user to organize their Bumbershoot schedule and get directions to and from stages. The app also, through the integration of opt-in GPS tracking, would allow users to more easily locate their friends — a task every festival fan knows to be frustrating (and often impossible) in massive festival crowds.


Having identified several current state friction points, we’re starting a new conversation and thinking differently about the future of festival apps. Through AI machine learning and predictive analytics, we’re envisioning new ways to place users at center stage by recommending content that is tailored to each user’s goals and motivations. Additionally, we see an opportunity to incorporate Mixed reality (MR) as a way to offer a differentiated, even more amazing festival experience.

By rethinking the Bumbershoot app and experience, we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of possibilities. With festivals, big and small, gaining popularity and popping up in cities around the world, there’s never been a better time to design unique physical-to-digital experiences that turn the standard, often stressful music festival experience into a music — and app — lover’s paradise.

Hybrid designer with expertise in interaction design, product design, and visual design for digital and print