UX Observations #2: Harry Potter in Concert

On Sunday night my boyfriend Karl and I got dressed up in our finest and headed to the Spark Arena to watch the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra perform the score to ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, as the film was screened on a big screen. The highly acclaimed composer John Williams composed the music to the first three Harry Potter films (as well as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars, ET, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List and soo many others!) The music was beautiful and the audience, including tons of kids and adults in their Hogwarts fancy dress, was enthusiastic and vocal!

While I imagine most people don’t immediately associate ‘Harry Potter in Concert’ with UX design, I did find myself thinking about the user experience of the event at a couple of points during the evening.

Excuse me, that’s my seat!

The first time was at the very beginning of the night when Karl and I tried to find our seats. We had the cheapest tickets so they were a good hike up to the top, and we actually sat in the wrong row for 5 minutes or so as we were excited to see seats 732 and 733, before realising we needed row SS. I thought it would just be us that struggled, until I noticed it happen over and over again as the seats began to fill up.
We had used the sticker at the beginning of the row to find our seats. It was stuck on the steps near the first seat of the row, with seat numbers on the seats themselves.
(Apologies for the terrible picture!)


Possible solutions

  1. Repetition: Add the row alongside the seat number to the label on the bottom of every seat ie. SS 732
  2. Colour: Colour code each row – ie. Green row SS, seat 732, with a green row being easy enough to spot in amongst rows of varying colours. Although this would pose accessibility problems (including colour-blindness) and would not work if the lights were dimmed.
  3. Wayfinding: Create very clear wayfinding signage before you get to looking for your row so yo have a good expectation of where you should find it. Ie. you know this set of stairs will take you to Rows PP to ZZ.
  4. Digital labels: Each row and seat could have digital display signs on the floor for the row and then the seat, like the little digital price tags in some supermarkets. These could glow faintly so could still be visible when the lights go down, but not be distracting. Or be dark when the performance starts but glow when someone steps beside it.
  5. A wayfinding app: You could create a wayfinding app that pinpoints where the customer is in the arena and where their seats are so they can use it as a guide on where to go. The people I saw struggling were using phones as torches anyway. However I think creating an app to solve this problem is clunky, involving too many process steps (ie. get phone out of pocket, unlock, close last app use, close last app folder used, scroll through app icons to find seating finder app, open app, log on to app, find location…) I would try to find a more elegant solution.

Grab and Go Space

My second geekery into UX thinking for the night was during the intermission as I headed down to the food & beverage area to get a bottle of water, and found the ‘Grab and Go Space’.

Spark Arena 'Grab and Go Space'

Spark Arena ‘Grab and Go Space’

The food and beverage folks at Spark Arena had attempted to tackle the usual problem of the intermission mile-long line for drinks with the Grab and Go Space. It was a system where customers were directed through a marked off area, past fridges and tables stacked with snacks, to help themselves and pay on their way out of the area – more like a canteen design than a traditional theatre bar.