Discover the specific needs for artists of color and barriers to participation, in order to plan inclusive events that are particularly welcoming and accessible to these users.
Users shared many concerns that are now properly addressed on the site, and my research opened new avenues into relationships that will enrich the event in the long term.
Tools & Methods: Sketch, Squarespace, Aurelius, Rapid Paper Prototyping, Contextual Inquiry, Directed Storytelling, Design Ethnography, Usability Evaluation, Content Strategy, Design Strategy
background & Goals
The Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District hired my event management company (Scuttlebug LLC) to host a series of 10 events on Nicollet. A major goal of our client is for these events to represent the diversity in Minneapolis and surrounding neighborhoods. We conducted focus groups and surveys to confirm that this was desirable to our artists as well.
I individually interviewed 13 Black, Hmong, Persian, and Indigenous American artists. During early meetings, I conducted paper prototyping sessions to rapidly develop a content strategy for the site. In later interviews, artists viewed a prototype site with actual content. The result is an event website that meets the specific needs of artists of color in Minneapolis.
In particular, the site addresses frequently asked questions such as:
- Why are you doing this (what are your values)?
- Who are you (what's your track record as an organization)?
- What other artists are planning to participate?
Content is ranked hierarchically, with the most critical information placed at the top of the page. Information that my users identified as less important (such as time, date, and location) appears further down. Only when these questions have been answered can a user evaluate how to proceed, and begin to think about preparation.
Research participants listed several physical and digital resources they would find helpful, and we prioritized them in order of impact and desirability. The most valuable resource is our relationships with partner organizations such as CHAT, who offered to provide supplies and transportation for Hmong artists.
During the event our users need to be supported, respected, and connected. Afterward, it's critical to gather feedback and continue to iterate so that each Market is better than the last.
Diversity initiatives are doomed to failure unless there is representation in organization staff. Our top priority is to continue forming partnerships with people and organizations who have invested in building connections with local communities. We aim to congregate a committee of diverse stakeholders that is involved in operating the events. My company was hired to grow new opportunities but our users are the true owners. Ultimately, assuming the events are successful, we'd be delighted to transfer power entirely to these individuals who are deeply invested in Minneapolis and local creators.