Sydney Opera House Mobile App - A Year In Review

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In mid 2014, Beaconmaker were contracted to redesign Sydney Opera House’s official app to meet a brief that focused on improving mobile event discovery and wayfinding for visitors on-site.

At the start of the redesign journey, we worked closely with the Sydney Opera House team to better understand the behavioural characteristics of visitors, the official website and off-site app users.

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Beaconmaker worked within an existing digital framework to develop new features and build upon the existing app - redesigning it so that content could easily be managed via the Beaconmaker web CMS (and in turn, significantly cutting the workload for marketing and content mangers). 

Evaluating Sydney Opera House’s existing app enabled Beaconmaker to identify problem areas through testing, observation and research. This led to an ongoing, iterative process of mock-ups and working prototypes in order to determine what new features were to be integrated in the new app. Unfortunately due to time constraints, the final app utilises the existing responsive web checkout instead of a native purchase path.

The overall approach to the app was simple - design a utility-based app for both on- and off-site visitors. 

Existing vs. New App

Existing
  • No clear hierarchy or structure for displaying events
  • No ability to filter searches based on dates or genre
  • Uses a static, outdated PDF
  • Difficult to identify key locations within the Opera House
  • No user-positioning capability
New
  • Clear event hierarchy: at a glance, users can see what is featured, happening today and coming soon
  • Event search filters
  • Each event directly assigned to a location so that users can get directions when on-site
  • Integrated with Google indoor maps: allowing people to navigate to pre-defined onsite locations
  • Integrated with Beaconmaker’s web CMS: deployed beacons can be managed from the web CMS to enable visitors to determine their current location indoors
  • Defined on-site amenities: visitors can see where amenities are relative to their current location and the estimated amount of time it will take them to navigate there

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Sydney Opera House app screenshots


Wayfinding with Beacons

The Sydney Opera House is an UNESCO World Heritage venue so there are strict rules regarding signages and visible objects being introduced on-site. This presented a challenge as it meant that wayfinding solutions were limited in terms of how they could be implemented on-site. With limited Wi-Fi access points on-site (to assist indoor triangulation), it was clear that installing discreet beacons was the best solution in this case.

In May 2014, 60 beacons were deployed on-site at the Sydney Opera House. Users with the app downloaded and Bluetooth switched on can find their location relative to key attractions. Google indoor maps is integrated into the app, allowing for indoor positioning even when users move between different levels of the Opera House. 

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In the year since the app and beacons went live, we’ve learnt a lot and received great feedback which we’re taking on board to improve the app.


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