Students at Futures Studio Analyze Digital Ticketing Options for WW&L
Professor Randy Bartlett of Auburn’s futures studio knows all about WW&L, a leader in custom security printing and event ticketing. “WW&L is big time!” he stated. “They used to do just paper tickets, but now they create both paper and digital. They do everything from the Super Bowl and the Masters at Augusta all the way down to high school athletic events.” This past spring, students at futures studio, an off-campus instructional site in Mobile, Alabama, for undergraduate and graduate industrial design majors, completed a sponsored studio with WW&L. Their assignment was to develop ideas for “the Ultimate Fan Experience,” an overreaching concept that includes products and services, both print and digital, that create an interactive experience for fans before, during and after an event.
The students began with in-depth research on ticketing options for various large scale gatherings like sporting events, museums, theater and concerts. They got to Zoom with representatives from WW&L to learn more about the ticketing industry and met with Auburn Men’s Basketball Director of Operations Chad Prewett, along with Auburn Athletics ticketing staff, to discuss the importance of the fan experience to ticket sales. They worked in groups to create presentations on their research on kiosks and wristbands, commemorative tickets and mobile apps. At the end of the semester, they presented their findings to WW&L, focusing on features, advantages and benefits of each product category. “We looked at the whole experience of buying a digital ticket,” said Bartlett. “We got some really cool ideas and the company was really pleased with the information we presented to them.”
One group looked at the use of wristbands and all access kiosks, similar to those used at Disney World. They compared various types of wristbands and found them to be versatile and durable while encouraging safety. They allow for ticketing, identification, group functions and cash payments while keeping all the user’s information and options in one place. Another group studied NFC (Near Field Communication) ticketing which connects digital ticketing to mobile phones. The students showed how NFC tickets allow customers to upload photos and video from events that are stored online. Ticket holders can then display a collectible NFC ticket and encourage friends and family to scan the ticket and re-live the event experience, keeping ticket holders engaged long after an event has ended.
Several other groups developed ideas for interactive apps, exploring User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) in the process of purchasing digital event tickets. Since fan engagement fluctuates during events, mobile apps can keep fans engaged, especially during downtime at events. When users share photos and video, they become a part of the experience. Apps can share information on athletes or artists, venue maps and event information. They can also incentivize fan interaction with rewards systems, an attractive option for universities who want their students to become lifelong supporters. Lilly Echeverri and her fellow group members developed the unique idea of an app they called ‘Event Match.’ “There are plenty of websites out there to find events but none that included a social feature with a focus on a younger audience,” Echeverri explained. “Our app is modeled on online dating where a user ‘swipes right’ when they see an event they like.” Targeted toward young adults aged 18-35, this app would allow users to look at events well into the future and store them all in one place before deciding which ones to attend with friends who are also on the app.
Echeverri and her classmates agreed that this project was highly valuable because it required them to learn new skills. “I learned how to use more common industry grade programs for UX/UI such as Figma online and how quickly app creation and design can get complicated,” she stated. “This allowed me to appreciate design constraints to keep the app simple and user friendly.” Her teammate Alyssa Clanton agreed. “I think it really opened my eyes to just how complex UX/UI work can be,” she stated. “As we started walking through the app, it became apparent that we needed to break it down to the basics in order to have an intuitive interface.” But despite all they learned, Clanton said the most surprising part was actually coming up with their idea. “During a conversation about social media, Lilly threw out the question, ‘What if it was like Tinder?’ At first we kind of laughed, and then we all stopped and realized that it was actually a great idea.”