Auditorium Theatre

The Auditorium Theatre is a much-loved historical landmark and venue in Chicago, Illinois. They needed a new e-commerce website that allowed their customers to buy tickets online easily, and I was appointed lead designer, handling the project from start to finish.

Project Background and Goals

The Auditorium Theatre already had ticket purchasing functionality on their old website, using an out-the-box solution from the ticketing provider Tessitura. They identified in their brief that the solution was not fit for purpose, primarily because it was not mobile responsive, and did not allow them to carry out as much cross-selling, upselling and analytical tracking as they so desired.

My role

I was UX lead on the project, and it was my sole responsibility to carry out research and design for the project. I worked with a project manager, and back and front end developers to create the solution, and we worked closely together with the Marketing team at the Auditorium Theatre as the main point of sign off and approval throughout.

Identifying problem areas

The project team at the Auditorium Theatre had identified a short list of problems in their brief, though almost all of these were from a back-end user perspective and did not take into consideration the needs of the customer.

They had never done significant tracking into user behaviour, so we set them up with Google Analytics and Hotjar to begin recording user sessions, and used qualitative research methods to determine problem areas ahead of carrying out workshops on-site.

On-site, I ran a series of workshops, including proto-persona creation, journey mapping, affinity mapping and running interviews with stakeholders from different departments who interacted with different types of visitors to the theatre on a daily basis to better understand their needs.

Some of the key user journeys we determined from the discovery process were:


Ticket purchases

Over 80% of users were abandoning the purchase journey on the website. We wanted to change this, and through researching the existing platform we were able to create a custom solution using the Tessitura API.

A pain point we identified during the research phase was that users struggled to select seats on mobile devices. The pan and zoom features were difficult to use, and users were frequently abandoning before reaching the checkout.

With this in mind, we took inspiration from app-style interfaces such as Google Maps to create an intuitive, full-screen, seat selection interface that allows users to use gestures like pinch and zoom to get to the seats they want. As such, Auditorium Theatre have seen a 50% increase in session duration on mobile since launching the new site.

Subscription ticket purchases

Although the Auditorium Theatre had the functionality to sell subscriptions online, the user experience was so poor they had very few customers doing so, and over 90% of subscriptions were purchased over the phone.

I worked with the Auditorium Theatre to understand how they package their subscriptions each season, and we built up a customer journey map of that offline experience to understand how best to facilitate it online.

A high-fidelity version of the customer journey map.

Validating designs

Comparing the data within a 6 month period since launch, versus the same period the year before I’m pleased to say we’ve seen some great results:

Understanding the difficulties with the existing platform and the needs of the customer enabled me to design a much more intuitive interface that allows users to select from a series of curated packages, or indeed create a bespoke package for themselves.

An award-winning experience

We were thrilled to win a Gold Hermes Creative Award for the website design in April 2019, one month after launch. I was recognised as lead designer.

Validating designs

Since launch, the Auditorium Theatre have seen great success with new website, in particular:

🎟️ We doubled the conversion rate of ticket purchases

🧑 72% increase in visitors to subscriptions page

📱📈 10% increase in mobile users

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