During a fireside chat at the iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Chip Gross of AKQA discussed the agency’s creation of a new Universal Orlando Resort Mobile Experience, which was designed to “make having fun easy.” Universal Orlando, comprised of two theme parks, a dining and entertainment complex, and four resorts, can be daunting and difficult to navigate for guests. Universal’s challenge was to help visitors have a better experience and take advantage of the park’s many amenities in a simple, easy way. AKQA tackled the mobile experience in 16 weeks, integrating functionality like browse by activity, browse by park, browse by location, and more.
Chris Crayner of NBCUniversal explained that by partnering with AKQA, they leveraged the best of mobile to build a common infrastructure that was navigation-based and scalable, so that it could be easily adapted for us at Universal Studios Hollywood. During the research phase, AKQA, NBCUniversal, and Universal Orlando examined top use cases to ensure that the mobile experience truly simplified the user’s visit, rather than creating more friction. They knew they needed a very robust platform to suit their visitors’s needs, so they took a cross-functional approach, consulting with park operations, attraction designers, marketing, and other resort departments to assess the most important features for the app.
Rather than including every feature possible, the app designers used restraint and instead focused on what mattered most to users: things like wait times and park navigation, which keep the customer front and center. For example, with the understanding that visitors would be trying to find attractions in a crowded park, navigation functionality was designed using major landmarks and images, to create a smoother experience. AKQA and NBCUniversal were also careful to be transparent with guests, even if long wait times could dissuade visitors.
Greg Renner of Universal Orlando pointed out that the Universal Orlando website is a planning tool for guests, and the app is an extension of the website, now boiled down to utilitarian usage so visitors can navigate around the park, get to different attractions easily, and get around wait times. During the testing phase, guests were asked to download and test the app to ensure that it encompassed these important features properly, eliminating friction wherever possible.
AKQA and NBCUniversal are also planning a roadmap for future features, including ecommerce functionality and accessibility guidelines.
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