Circus community revamp journey (UX Process)

As an amateur aerialist (I practice aerial silks and straps), I it is hard for me to see the circus community unattended. In some cities is not easy to find a place to train or find information about shows (except when it comes the arrival of Cirque Du Soleil). There are a lots of small companies and professionals which are amazing, but, how do we find them? How can we see them in action? And BTW, yes, we are against traditional circus with animals.

I have involved myself to the bottom for this project, not only because I love my circus community, but I always liked to understand other’s POV, and I wanted to know if they had the same concerns as I did, or I could find another problem.

My UX Process was the following:

UX Process

Step 1: set the strategy

What do I think my challenges are? What do I need to know? What do I expect from this project? Who do I need to contact? How do I measure the success of the project?

First of all, I needed to find out “The Problem”.

I set the Blue Print Strategy Canvas to have the first draft of my project.

Step 2: start the research!

I divided my research in 2: market and users.

Market: as I already knew, there is not much information or Apps in the market about or for the circus community. I found out some “gym” Apps (to find your nearest gym, where to practice your favorite activity -not including circus activities- or to match with a personal trainer). The only web that I found more interesting to develop the project was Circus Talk, that is an huge online community for the circus lovers.

Users: this was the fun part of the research! I have lot of contacts and friends in the circus community, so it was easy to spread the word and get some surveys and interviews in only 1 day.

· Survey: I launched a “google form” survey, specially made for people that practice a circus activity, but also I added some questions for people who doesn’t practice. I sent it to my friends and colleagues (and visited some training sites), and they also spread it. I got 80 answers in 1 day, that was informative enough to go on with the project.

Some of the main questions were:

  • Do you practice some circus activity? If yes, which one/s?
  • Did you find it easy to find a place to train?
  • Which things do you value the most to choose a place to train? Tools, height, closeness, teachers, etc.
  • Do you train only in your city or when you go on holidays too?
  • What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say “Circus”?
  • Have you ever been in a Circus Show? If yes, will you repeat? How easy it was/is to find information about the show/s?

· Interview: I interviewed different people: professional aerialist, teachers, training sites owners, and producers. I also researched some interviews done by professionals in the web.

Some interesting quotes from the interviews:

“In Spain we don’t have much opportunities as in other countries as Russia or Germany, where people goes to the theatre to learn, to spend a nice evening or they are interested in cultural shows” Alvaro Medrano, professional dancer, bboy and aerialist.

“I started as a dancer, and driven by friend’s recommendations, I ended in a training center doing acrobatics. Then one thing led to another, and I started practicing Straps, where another friend was training aerial ring.” TB, student.

“Nowadays circus activities are more appreciated. In the past, circus was related with animal suffering, you were seen as hippie or “perroflauta”. Now is valued as an art, a perfect match between sports and artistic movements.” LM, professional aerialist, teaches of aerial silks.

“People outside the circus community are still not aware of what circus means, there’s not much information.” AP, professional aerialist, teaches aerial silks, aerial ring, straps.

“Thanks to Social Media and Internet, Cirque do Soleil brand awareness and its itinerant shows, circus concept has changed in the last years, leaving behind the concept of animal cruelty. But still we have a lot to do to spread it out.” FV, training site owner.

Step 3: the analysis

In this step, I had to organize the information I’ve gathered, to find out the main pain points of my user.

To do this, I deployed some resources such as Affinity Diagram and Lean UX Canvas (to categorize the information I had), User Persona and Empathy Map (to define different users and their environment), User Journey (to see how they behave, and how to transform their pain points into satisfaction steps), Problem Statement (to make different hypothesis and verify them), among others.

Affinity Diagram

Affinity Diagram — Research Data

User Persona

User Persona
User Persona
User Persona

Our user’s name is Tania, she takes classes 2 or 3 times a week, and she is so fanatic, that when she’s on holidays, she searches for some place to train.

Not fully satisfied with this, she also see all the cirque shows she can, and feels very disappointed when she’s not informed about some performance or show, and looses the opportunity to see it.

User Journey

User Journey Tania

The main pain points for the user were the steps when it needed to find some information about places to train, methodology of the training session or shows (if is not the Cirque Do Soleil, with all its Marketing budget behind, there is not much information about local or international shows).

With all the information organized, the users and main pain points identified, I reached to these conclusions:

Step 4: finally, ideate solutions!

Now, it’s time to diverge again! This was my favorite step. Despite being on my own in this project, I managed to make some brainstorming with some of my colleagues, and circus friends and family. It’s important to have different points of view in this stage, to gather as many ideas/features as you can (no matter how good or bad they are!).

Once I had lots of different ideas/features, was time to organize and categorize them also. To do this, I used different tools like Mindmap (to help me structure the ideas and synthesize them in different areas), MOSCOW (to prioritize the features, what my project Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, Won’t Have), and User Stories (how my user is, what it would like to achieve and why).

With the Mindmap I found out that there were 4 different categories I needed to serve: places to train, shows, teachers and students. As this is an MVP, and I needed to prioritize the main pain points, I decided to create Circus App with 2 main characteristics.

Step 5: bring it to life!

Here is where the magic begins!

Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash

With my 2 main objectives defined, I started to create the idea, through some Crazy 8 sketching, Card Sorting to organize de content (and discard some ideas that weren’t worth it), Site Map to have an overview of the MVP, and User Flows to see how the user will achieve the goal.

Then, I begun to draw the fist screens.

Crazy 8

Crazy 8

Site Map

If you would like to see how this project continued, you are more than welcome to visit my portfolio ;)

If you want to ask me something, feel free to send my a comment, add me to LinkedIn or visit some circus in Madrid, you will find me there for sure!

Circus App (by Irina Ovary Dalmau)

Thank you for reading!

Product Manager and UX Designer. Argentinian living in Madrid. Aerialist amateur. Loves traveling. Animal lover and defender.