<Open Data Philly/> Case Study:

My background is in fine arts so when posed with the challenge, I was happy to discover the Philadelphia Public Art API. The core functions of the API are to return descriptions of pieces of public art and their geolocations.

My initial idea was to design an augmented reality mobile app. Although right at the start I realized that this was just a fun feature, and nothing more. I needed to look for a solution to this challenge that took full advantage of the opportunities presented by this data.

Feature Maps

So, I began with creating a persona. “Who could most benefit from this data?” Meet Tara the Tourist!


Walking in Tara’s shoes gave me the perfect opportunity to discover how she might call upon this data as she navigated the streets of Philadelphia for the first time. I wanted to help Tara discover the hidden gems that lay tucked away in the many neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.

I felt the best way to accomplish this was to design a mobile app. It would be hard to venture down the path of discovery towing around your laptop.

The app would help the user discover the public art located in the Philadelphia. But it would be even more helpful if it also helped you navigate the city to find it. I needed to see how these different features would play against each other and what other opportunities may present themselves. I needed to create a site map.

Site Map

The site map really helped me visualize how Tara might go about her day and use the app to locate the public art and pull up the data associated with each artwork. I broke the experience down into four sections.


Wireframes: Nearby

I felt as though Tara, like many tourists, would have the need to get her bearings. I wanted to facilitate this while also introducing the data set for the public art. A feature that would allow her to see her location in relation to the city and then the correlation of the art to her location. This would have the added benefit of her being able to find what art is near her at any given moment during her visit.

Wireframes: Tours

You can not look at a city brochure without finding a list of city tours. I wanted to provide our traveler with an alternative, as I felt one of the greatest features of this app was to provide the user with the freedom to discover the city on their own. I also know that many tourists are here for a limited time and would benefit from the ability to create and plan their own tours.

Wireframes: Search

There is a tremendous amount of public art in Philadelphia. I wanted to provide the user with the ability to search the data set for a particular work of art or for a specific artist. The data set is organized as such and it would be a missed opportunity not to have a search feature.

Wireframes: Camera

Tourists take pictures to document their trip and say “hey I was there”. Since this is a mobile app for tourists it would be a grave mistake to not allow for access to the camera from within the app. Also the camera provides another layer of functionality for our data set. The augmented reality feature I spoke of earlier. Being able to see information about the work of art and the artist while within the camera viewfinder would not only be useful but would also provide a little wow factor for the user as they share their discoveries with the world on social media.

Visual Design

My initial instinct was to include the pictures of the artwork from the area in the apps interface.

Although visually appealing, I felt like the artwork was distracting from the user flow and the calls to action. Inspired by the Mondrian inspired logo, I decided to let that element become the interface. I see it working as panels that will shift and morph via animation as screens transition to accommodate for the UI elements on the next screen. I see it feeling like a living Mondrian painting.


While creating the interface, the idea of logging in through Google or Facebook crossed my mind. And although that would have added some ease of use to the on-boarding process, it led me to a better idea. If you were able to log in with your Uber account, this could allow for access to Uber from within the app itself. What better way to get around a new city? Find the artwork you want to see, then at the press of a button request a ride via Uber with the location already plugged in


I feel this app really could have a place in the market. The possibilities for a partnership with Uber could really be promising. I really enjoyed creating the Mondrian inspired UI and would like to experiment with it further. Maybe even bringing other artists work to inspire future UI elements. Works by Alexander Calder, specifically his mobiles, could really be interesting as UI elements.

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