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Cue

The Digital Stage Manager

Overview

Cue is a platform that helps stage managers to run and to manage theatrical productions. The goal of Cue is to digitalize the stage management experience and to help stage managers stay more organized, connected, and efficient during theatrical productions.

Role:

UX/UI Designer

Duration:

10 weeks

Tools and Systems:

Tools: Sketch, InVison
System: Custom, Material Design

Why Cue?

I have experience participating in school theater productions as an actor, musician, crew member, and prop designer. Over the years I gained a multi-disciplinary perspective of how a production is run and what problems existed.
I am focusing on stage managers as my primary target audience due to the versatile, demanding, and process-heavy nature of their work. I felt this was an opportunity and challenge worthwhile exploring.

Performing in "Hedda Gabler" (2014)
Performing in "The Liar" (2013)

Final Mocks

Problem Statement

Stage managers need a single platform to help them record and share notes, stay connected with the cast, and organize their documentation to allow them to improve ease of communicating with cast members, and minimize manual processes of recording notes and blocking.

Competitive Market Research

Theater and event platforms analyzed

I explored features and read customer reviews to help me to identify opportunities and improvements I could make with my own design.

Virtual Callboard allows stage and production managers to distribute, organize, and share production information with the cast and team.

Stage Write allows to track performer staging, import scripts, track props and scenery, and more. The tool also has collaborative capabilities and sharing options with the team.

Propared allows users to make schedules, manage venues and space, create individual itineraries, and store files. The primary purpose is organization and scheduling.

Cuelist helps users to add cues to a live script and make updates real-time. There are also collaboration features that share the document and allow managers to assign permissions and layers to the notes.

My findings and results motivated me to:

Hypotheses

How can a digital application enhance traditional methods of stage management?

Are stage managers willing to adopt a new application into their regular process?

User Research

Interviews

I conducted 8 user interviews with professional stage managers. My goals were to learn about a stage manager's experience and get a glimpse into their systems, processes, and methods of communicating and taking notes.

Pain Points:

  • Consolidating all rehearsal materials and documentation in one central place
  • Scale of the amount of notes to take
  • Rehearsal reports of very time-consuming to put together and type up
  • Separating emails, calls, and texts from personal and professional
  • Working with constant script changes

What do stage managers want?

  • A central place to have access to scripts, documents, rehearsal reports, communication.
  • Help making rehearsal schedules.
  • Recommended templates for rehearsal reports. Also a pre-pop feature in the report.
"I am the ringleader of the operation. My function is to corral all the different aspects of a live performance and make sure everything fits together. My biggest goal is to carry out the director’s vision" -Christian T.
"I keep everything in the production running smoothly and communicate what is happening to departments. I help to create a feeling that fosters positive creative work" -Leslie R.

Survey

Do not have experience using stage management software

Are interested in a script editor

Want a centralized location for all documentation

Are interested in an interactive stage blocking feature

“Sound designer forgot his script? Lemme access the ultimate master, toggle on Snd cues, and print. A volunteer is holding book for a dress rehearsal? Great, lemme toggle on the line notes from the previous day, and print.”
-Christian T.
"If there was an application that significantly consolidated all my info and allowed me to work almost exclusively out of it, I would absolutely use it. But it would have to check enough major boxes for me.”
-Hannah W.

Survey Insights:

Contextual Inquiry

I shadowed 2 stage mangers during rehearsal to observe how they work in their natural environment, what the physical space looks like, and how they interact with other cast members.

Key Insights and Observations

Research Takeaways

I believe I validated my hypotheses. Overall, stage managers are willing to adopt a new application, as long as it:

Stays true to their current process and flow.
Does not overcomplicate their current process.
Fulfills their exact needs and pain points.
Streamlines and enhances to make their workflow more efficient and smooth.

Persona

Design

I explored a dashboard design for Cue. I was brainstorming what key features I wanted to include as my MVP.

Mid-Fidelity Mocks Round 1

Evaluative Research

I conducted a usability test with 3 stage managers. My goals were to test of my prototype was usable and relevant.

Findings: 

Logo

Sketching ideas for a logo

Exploring using color and composition

Final Design and Style Guide

Final Prototype Mocks

Key Project Takeaways

Power of User Research
 
By engaging in a variety of research methods I was able to approach my problem from different perspectives and more thoroughly validate my hypothesis. It was great to see overlap in the insight I got because it validated the pain point affects multiple stage managers. 

Listen and Observe

Hearing what my users had to say helped guide my design and will allow me to better iterate in the future. Also, seeing stage managers interacting in their natural environment helped me envision how Cue could fit into their current workflow.



Solve for One Problem at a Time

By narrowing down the problems I wanted to tackle in my MVP, I was better able to focus on designing them. Once I solve my main problem, I can look to explore other pain points my users mentioned.

Future Steps

This was a very exciting project to work on and was something near and dear to my heart. It was interesting to learn about a different side of theater from the perspective of a stage manager.

My next steps for this project would be:

  • Iterate further on my designs based on the feedback from user research and testing
  • Speak to more stage managers and shadow a variety of rehearsals. This will help to provide scope of the types of work stage managers do.
  • Test my new designs in a real rehearsal setting.