It is that time of the year once again when music festivals are blooming. There isn’t a single part of the US or Europe where you can’t find a real music event to suit your taste. Group traveling in old VW wagons, parties till early in the morning, summer star-watching while lying on the grass, and all the other perks of the Woodstock era, are still here, but a few things have changed since your parents were taking an occasional woof in the back of the old VW Beetle.
Mobile apps are pretty much a priority if you are organizing any public event, and festivals are no exception. Having a good mobile app will ensure that your audience gets the information they need for attending such an event, and—as a bonus—gives you, as an organizer, a fantastic marketing tool.
We picked ten festivals (actually 12, to be fair, but you’ll see that in the rest of the article) and rated their mobile apps.
How we tested?
We graded three aspects of each application: its design, information quality, and usability. The overall score is a combination of the average of the first two scores, and our overall score, which relates to the overall feel look and feel of the app. All the apps were tested on iOS devices, with an iPhone 5 and iPhone 6. So let’s roll out the first contender.
Coachella is a music and arts festival held at the Empire Club in Indio, California, located in the Coachella Valley of the Colorado Desert. The festival itself is great, but the app – not so great.
The first thing that boggled us was the fact that there are just too many permissions on the first screen. Another thing was that the app has a double-tap bar in the news/social section, which is rather confusing. The app has some cool features like VR, but you have to download a separate app for that.
Glastonbury Festival is a five-day festival of contemporary performing arts that takes place near Pilton, Somerset, in England. It has a very long tradition, dating back to the ‘70s.
The Glastonbury app requests a push permission just as you start the app (isn’t that annoying?), and it is very slow, even on the latest hardware. The design is inconsistent: there is no artist section, though you can navigate through the tiny line-up section to find an artist you are looking for, and the info about them – good luck with that.
The thing that bothered us the most was the ad at the bottom of the screen. This badly affected the usability because, as with any ad on the screen, there is less room on the app for the actual content.
Rock Werchter is a Belgian annual music festival held in the village of Werchter, near Leuven. It, too, has a long tradition, dating back to the mid-‘70s.
Their app, on the other hand, doesn’t feel old at all. On first glance it has a shiny, fresh design that uses some neat effects and transitions; however, the minute you start using it you realize that something is way off. Scheduling works really bad, UX and UI are inconsistent, and getting to some parts of the app is like using a labyrinth – the font size is way too small.
We honestly liked the use of colors and certain design elements, even the up-to-date user mechanics, but they just aren’t used in the right way.
Roskilde is an annual music festival held in the south of Roskilde in Denmark. Yet again, it dates back to the start of the ’70s.
The Roskilde app was one of the better apps in our review; unfortunately it fails on the most basic things, like requesting permissions at the start. The general focus of the app is obviously on the music itself – on the listening, to be exact. It features a slick Spotify integration, Facebook integration, maps, food locator, and some other cool features, packed in an overall unique, but very elegant, design. Good job.
Nova Rock is a music festival in eastern Austria that has been going down since 2005. We sadly admit that Nova Rock was one of the worst apps on the test. From a design standpoint, the color choice could be better, as could the font size (and choice) too, and the usability is not so great either.
The app sometimes looks like a web page without the loaded CSS, which isn’t that much of a surprise because more than half of the app is loaded via website modules. At least the app works fine (no hiccups, and every one loads pretty fast).
Again, we are sad to report that the Pinkpop app doesn’t go hand in hand with the festival it represents. First of all, the app doesn’t have an English version, so we were just tapping on the dark pushing buttons.
For the rest of the world that doesn’t speak Dutch, this app is unusable, which made us wonder whether the organizer actually wanted to target an audience outside of The Netherlands. On top of that, it takes way too long to load the map (over a minute on the iPhone 6S).
Rock am Ring & Rock im Park are two simultaneous rock music festivals held annually in Germany from 1985. Interestingly, there are two apps for both of these festivals, but they are almost identical (except for the logo). When you think about it, this approach doesn’t really make sense since there could be one app incorporating the info for both festivals.
Anyway, the app(s) have that generic look & feel that nobody wants. Once again, there is no English language option (only German). Secondly, there is a push permission request on the first screen. Moving on, you can use Facebook integration for adding events to your favorites, but there is no profile page (a real login doesn’t exist, as such).
And another bad thing, which we’ve already seen, is an excessive use of webpages within the app – where the line-up opens up in the web page designed for each artist individually. Excessive usage of webpages in an app is plain wrong. The content should always be added natively, which is way better for the whole user experience because the content can then be customized.
Sziget is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. Dating from the early ‘90s, when it was a relatively low-profile student event, nowadays it has become one of the most prominent European rock festivals, with visitors from all across Western Europe and more than a thousand annual performances.
We are glad to admin that Sziget is, hands down, the best app on the test. Neat Spotify integration, correctly implemented scheduling system with filters – and almost the same level of quality in its handling of the artists. Overall, whoever built this app did a great job. The only thing we could lay against this app is the design, which isn’t bad, but doesn’t doesn’t match the other special aspects of this app.
The Open’er festival is the music festival that takes place on the north coast of Poland. It is, in a nutshell, another generic app – a very similar, if not the same, solution as used by some of the other festival apps on this list. Nevertheless, this is not a bad app at all – it just doesn’t have anything to make it stand out. At best, it’s mediocre.
And last, but not least… well actually, these are unfortunately the last on our list – and the least worthy of noticing. Reading and Leeds festivals are another pair of rock festivals that take place simultaneously, but this time in England. If you take into account their jazz heritage – dating back to the mid-50s – these two festivals are respectable rock events that, in their prime, hosted many rock legends like Pink Floyd, Guns N’ Roses, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Metallica, Nirvana, and Oasis. You name it… even Eminem himself was there.
Too bad the apps aren’t even noteworthy. Again, we have that big red flag in the form of permissions on the first screen, but this time four of them – is that a record? Overall, the design is awful, and it’s just a shame that such excellent music festivals are represented by such poor mobile apps.
As you can see, overall the festival apps could be a whole lot better. Generic apps seem to dominate the niche, which is a shame because a lot of the people visiting such events appreciate good content, presented imaginatively. Festival apps should be easy to use, and users should be blown away by their design – as they are with the music.
So ultimately, there is really only one question on our lips – can you make a great festival apps quickly? Well, actually you can, and people are doing it every day. With Shoutem, you can build a totally custom festival app today!