Spaces and Places Research

L.A. Live Visitor Study

Providing a customer’s-eye view of a busy entertainment destination to its corporate sponsor.

The Challenge

Understand the current state of the visitor experience at an entertainment campus in downtown LA. Develop a strategic proposal to identify how digital design could address long-term improvements, as well as establish some quick wins.

My Role

I was the project lead for the study and conceptualization effort, both organizing and conducting research in the field, and facilitating design brainstorming back at the studio.
In the 2015 purchase of Nokia, Microsoft had unintentionally inherited naming rights to L.A. Live. The site was home to three major league sports teams, the LA Convention Center, the Staples Center, and several large music venues. The space had the potential to be a massive win for Microsoft branding. Unfortunately, the site had severe problems with basic operations, providing a quality visitor experience, and attracting talent.

This project was both an ethnographic field study and a conceptualization exercise to imagine the possibilities of the space. The goal was a smart campus that showcased Microsoft’s perspective. We walked the client through the process of sorting out current problems, to a vision of a digitally-amplified destination.

The trip spanned two in-depth field visits and additional desk research. Over two extended weekend visits, we interviewed visitors and staff, conducted surveys, and documented the space through video and photography. We observed and recorded quality control incidents, such as confusing signage or disorganized operations. In concluding the field research, we presented an organized matrix of these problems, along with solutions that would maintain a high volume of visitors while elevating the experience for each visitor.

Signage usage. Exhibits like this revealed the inconsistency of typographic, wayfinding, and other systems at the site.

Lines and waiting. Documentation of an extreme case of unnecessary lines, a significant pain point for visitors.

We explored ways to use the brand equities of Microsoft as a lever to help users in the space. Microsoft's strengths in high-tech and enterprise software fed into a useful narrative of enabling a smart, connected entertainment campus.

Kiosk and mobile app screen concepts.

Before visiting, we were warned that the site was chaotic. When we arrived, we observed several businesses scrambling to make their individual spaces work for their visitors, while leaving the common space a tangled web of lights, signage, and furniture that competed for attention. It was gratifying to prove the need for a design intervention to make the site usable for people.

Proposal concept.
We suggested new approaches to partnerships within the space. While an NFL team remains a faraway dream for Los Angeles, Microsoft's relationship with the NFL and LA Live created opportunities for the facilities to take advantage of that nascent demand. This and other ideas were considered to use the coalition of the property's brands to create a space that resonated with Southern Californians.

This project was a bespoke deep-dive research and ideation effort. Beyond presentation some early prototyping of feasible concepts, we didn’t implement any concepts after the engagement wrapped. Microsoft did extend its naming rights and still is involved in elevating the downtown LA environment.

all work © will capellaro and clients