OnArrival App


Project: On-site event tool redesign
Product: OnArrival
Role: Product Designer, Visual Designer
Year: 2016-2017


OnArrival began as a simple check-in app, but quickly gained a wide range of features, including badge printing, surveys, RFID tracking, and event stats. Planners and event staff rely on OnArrival to manage everything about their event while on-site.


4 years of feature creep left the application complicated, disorganized, and hard to use. As the business expanded to include larger events, use of contractors for event staff became common, which made usability problems more apparent and more costly. High error rates threatened adoption because spending the time and money to gather data that ended up being full of errors made for a tough sell.


Months of planner interviews, prototypes, user tests, and working closely with our implementation teams to refine a design to the core of what a planner needs from moment to moment while running their event. We had to strike the perfect balance between intuitive simplicity for newcomers and raw capability for experienced power users.


We found that, by far, the biggest pain point was contractors making errors at session check-in. The app was just too hard to use — there were too many decision points — and when the whole purpose is to collect meaningful data, incorrect data entry is a dealbreaker. The planner wasn’t the user we needed to focus on, but rather the inexperienced event staff performing check-ins.

We were focused on the wrong user


We had to dramatically simplify and refocus the app on its core functionality — check-ins — to help event staff avoid errors. This included major overhauls to several key screens and flows, most notably the method of selecting which sessions to check in for, and reducing the number of ‘modes’ a user would have to switch between to perform common check-ins. The challenge was to effect massive change without alienating users who use OnArrival all the time, and who do take advantage of the more advanced features. This meant multi-phase, gradual change that eased planners into the new workflows without disrupting their business.


Our key metrics – data error rates – have dropped notably with each new phase release. We’ve seen a large number of side benefits as well: the number of consultants required at large events has dropped to usually just one, the staff trainings are much shorter than before, and planners have been able to focus on the important things at their events rather than chasing down questions with their staff.