Pause Fest has delivered leading global events since 2007. The Melbourne conference is a source of inspiration for many in the digital and creative industries. For the 2017 event, we set out to co-design with the audience, speakers, staff and exhibitors - to make it an event to remember!
The process to design Pause Fest 2017 was divided into two phases, Discovery and Design. The discovery phase focused on mapping out the current state with a four lens approach - community insight, user experience, global trends analysis and observational research. The second phase design focused on mapping, ideation, vision and planning.
Phase One Discovery
A key insight which emerged early in the research was the diversity of industries present at Pause Fest. The audience consisted of representatives from over 43 industries all seeking to be better informed about future trends. 80% of survey respondents from the 2015 event showed a strong connection to the conference themes of creativity, technology and entrepreneur. Showing we were on the right track to providing the right type of content. The majority of attendees were seeking knowledge, inspiration or were just pure curious while community and networking were also key drivers.
Usability testing of the 2015 website revealed users found the website a little confusing. Users were keen to see a traditional schedule to be better informed before making their ticket purchasing decision. User testing also revealed two main pathways people were navigating to access the information required before arriving at the purchasing point.
Global Trends Analysis
To explore how leading festivals and conferences were delivering great customer experiences. We benchmarked global and local festivals looking at the program of events, websites, schedules, duration and perceived value. A key insight at the time of the research was that ticket prices were higher in US and lower in Europe and Australia. We also discovered that there is growing global demand for knowledge in areas such as technology trends, social impact and design thinking.
Locally there are new festivals popping up quite frequently which is something the team wanted to look into further. At a panel discussion on the Future of Festivals - hosted by Victoria University in partnership with Maribyrnong City Council - the expert panel of Creative and Artistic Directors spoke about the growing competition in this space. The insights from this event highlighted that there can never be too many festivals as each festival is designed with a unique purpose and vision. There are many benefits the festivals provide to the community such as social inclusion, wellbeing, personal connections, cultural experiences and shared knowledge. As the panel discussed, festivals are not about generating revenue - they are about creating employment and supporting the community by promoting positive social change and connecting people within their communities.
Lastly we immersed ourselves into the 2016 Pause Fest experience. Through observations of the space and speaking with the audience, staff, speakers and exhibitors we were able to note the pain and delight points as people moved through the environment. By speaking with the audience we were able to empathise with how people were feeling, what their experiences were, and what they would like to see change. The biggest pain points were the extended periods of time seated which was uncomfortable, the limited number of breaks during the day and the need for spaces to work and connect. The conference wasn’t allowing enough time to Pause! The moments which the audience reported as a highlight of the conference was the conversations with experts and inspirational content from the variety speakers.
Phase Two Design
To begin mapping out the ideal experience for Pause Fest 2017 we needed to understand who it was that we were designing for. We synthesised the insights from phase one into four personas and developed ideal journey maps. Mapping the ideal journeys highlighted the key opportunities for creating the 2017 Pause Fest Experience.
Having identified the key opportunities we had a good understanding of what could be improved and removed. However we needed to think about what could be created. Co-designing with the team we took the key opportunities and went through an ideation process generating a wealth of ideas on what the new Pause experiences could look like. The ideas were then prioritised based on what was achievable, what would add the most value for the Pause Fest community and there alignment to the overall vision.
To develop the vision we spoke to people who knew Pause Fest best, the Pause Fest Board. The board were engaged for a workshop to talk through the insights, ideas and discuss what Pause Fest meant to them. Each board member shared their experiences reflecting on the many years of successful events. We synthesised these insights into a single vision for the 2017 Pause Fest Experience. At its core Pause is about connecting, learning and reflecting. Putting humans at the heart of the festival, inspiring through high quality content and to Pause an reflect on what could be.
There is an extensive amount of work which goes on behind the scenes to deliver the festival. Which the Pause Fest team work through with a passion and drive which can not be faulted. The process to design the experience guides this planning and ensures that what is delivered is the best it can be when the audience, staff, speakers and exhibitors arrive to experience it. The conference days are the most critical to get right and the changes we were looking to implement we were focused on how people would flow through out the spaces and be able to maximise networking opportunities. We broke the program into three sections. The now, the near future and the further future across each day of the conference. Allowing for breaks to move throughout each of the stages. Each session was assessed to aligned with this segmentation.
Some of the changes which were implemented into the 2017 event were to support creating networking opportunities through human connections. Pause Ambassadors roamed the event to make every connection personalised. The schedule was crafted to deliver content which is relevant to now, the near future and the further future. The local and international speakers were set to inspire through case studies, trends and experiential learning. Co-working spaces and charging stations were provided to allow space and time to reflect on the inspirational content and how this new knowledge can be applied to projects and daily activities. And the schedule was created to maximise time to connect, learn and Pause for reflection. For those of you who attended I hope you had a magical experience and we will continue to listen to all your feedback for Pause Fest iterations.