Designing for Mozilla Festival
MozFest is the world’s leading festival for the open internet movement. It happens annually at Ravensbourne College, London UK and brings together influential thinkers from around the world to build, debate, and explore the future of a healthy internet.
Our hope was the design would enhance attendees’ experiences at the festival by helping them navigate the physical space, recognize the issues we were highlighting, understand the diversity of the people in the building, and provide a unifying, polished feel to augment the weird and wonderful handmade signage that is so much a part of the festival.
Sabrina Ng began working on mood boards. Very early on in this process we requested a festival tagline. It was tough for the festival team to nail this down so early in the process, but establishing the tagline ‘One Web’ was a foundational element.
We wanted the look and feel to reflect the energy of people attending MozFest. Sabrina’s visuals brought together bold, playful, and energetic neon colours with a glitch effect to embrace digital experiments. The look was coined ‘Digital Neon’ and was initially rejected by the festival team. They thought it was too bright and too stimulating to work in such an active and visually saturated environment like MozFest. We ultimately won them over and in the end, this bold look helped the wayfinding stand out against the array of DIY signs.
With Digital Neon selected as the direction, the next step was to complete the style guide. This document would ensure all festival assets, from t-shirts to lanyards to floor vinyl, would have a consistent look. It also meant we could share the style guide with art curators, installation designers, and anyone creating materials for their space. This helped unify elements across the different physical spaces in the building. It also meant that once the festival team signed off on the style guide, they didn’t need to sign off on each specific asset which gave us more creative freedom.
MozFest welcomes 1,700 attendees from more than 50 countries who speak a number of languages. The festival team requested for the design to reflect this diversity. We came up with creative ways to include language diversity in the posters, stage backdrops, within the schedule app and on the lanyards. Multi-lingual posters were installed at the entrance so attendees from other countries would immediately feel welcome. Proper localization was an exciting challenge — we needed native speakers to both translate text and review the designs in context.
Four years ago, FuzzyFox, a longstanding Mozilla volunteer, developed the bones of a custom scheduling app for the festival. Every year since, we’ve made further improvements to the app. This year, 526 session hosts diligently filled it in with almost 460 different sessions. We were blown away by attendee engagement. Session details were viewed 40,000 times by more than 10,000 people. They used the app’s search feature 2500 times and favorited sessions 11,000 times.
People created so many projects over the weekend that we added a new section to the website. It was important to keep the momentum going and to encourage people to continue the projects beyond the festival weekend.
The Festival Guide will be handed out throughout the year and gives background on the purpose of the festival, our relationships and Mozilla.
In the spirit of hackability and DIY, we left room on lanyard for people to personalize them. And they did! A lot of people drew on them, added stickers and Tweeted them.
Ravensbourne’s creative layout can make it tough to navigate for first time visitors. As such, we jumped at the challenge to create a stand out system of wayfinding across all spaces. Banners, space descriptions and vinyl were also key to help people feel less overwhelmed and to get where they wanted to go.
The way attendees included visual elements in their social media posts offered a fascinating glimpse into how they interpreted our design thinking.
Big thank you to Erika Drushka, Matthew Willse, and Kevin Zawacki for helping write this post.
Thanks to all the Mozilla Foundation designers who worked on the MozFest design (especially Sabrina Ng, Matthew Willse, and Tais de Souza Lessa) and contract designers Carrie-ann James and Ed Yau.
Thanks to Sabrina Ng and Paul Clarke for the lovely photos.