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Eventbrite: The Art of Digital Identity and Feature Simplicity

Eventbrite: The Art of Digital Identity and Feature Simplicity

DX Hall of Fame

Well, here it is – the first DX experience to make the hall of fame on the blog! The whole idea of these Hall of Fame posts is to celebrate great digital experiences – ones that make us feel a bit jealous that we didn’t think of or build them first 🙂 And I’m happy to say that I consider Eventbrite to be a deserving recipient of the inaugural outing of this soon-to-be prestigious accolade.

As part of my work for a client, I recently had to perform a review of a few Event Management software solutions. All three did the job, but for a truly outstanding digital expereince, I have to take my hat off to EventBrite.


Getting my Digital Identity experience right

This is such an important part of an online interaction these days, and is one that all too frequently goes wrong. Just today in fact, I logged onto the website of a major technology firm (using the link they sent me in an order confirmation email) and was surprised to find that in the ‘My Orders’ section, the order they had just emailed me about wasn’t visible. Why? They’ve messed up their digital identity record of me, that’s why.

In contrast, when I decided to use EventBrite to set up a meetup invite, the first thing they asked for was my email address. Now, I’d never used EventBrite to create an event before. But what I HAD done was attended a meetup or two which had been organised using the platform. Seamlessly, my identity record as an attendee was accessed and provided with access to the Event Organiser functionality.

This might not sound like much, but this is exactly the kind of switch in role that so often leads to a clunky interaction on a site – digital identity is difficult thing to master, and sometimes companies allow disparate identities to spawn associated with different roles or products within their estate. Digital ID is a domain which is hard to master precisely because it requires a business-wide strategy to be in place – ideally as early as possible – which for many reasons is something that lots of companies (even big digital players) struggle with. The later a company leaves it to try to tackle Digital ID, the more complex and difficult it becomes to untie (then properly reunite) the web of interactions and records held for an individual.

I also have to give a quick nod to how unintrusive the original request to create a profile was – I can actually remember it (a previous workplace had organised their Xmas party using evntbrite, and I recall being asked, optionally, at the end of the process whether I’d like to create a profile to make event registration quicker next time).

It’s a good example of a company having taken notice of how people actually feel about ‘up-front’ profile creation workflows (and the eye-rolling abandonments they inspire) and trusting in the fact that if a product is good/useful then users will be drawn to creating a profile – maybe not the first time, but at some point, and at their own volition. Kudos.


Realising that speed > configurability (usually) 

This is a hard one to balance sometimes – as techies, we often want to empower people and give them the freedom to be creative and unrestricted when using a digital product. We feel like the more options we give someone, the better the product or service we’re providing. The reality can often be quite different though – as counter intuitive as it may seem, sometimes the best products are the ones that are somewhat restrictive – or at least, are the products which are careful to ensure that the basic user journey is the always the most obvious, and that any advanced configuration options are neatly tucked away so as to avoid them becoming a distraction.

I feel like EventBrite got this balance just right. There wasn’t too much fuss around what my meetup website would look like. The fields I could expose in the standard workflow were the basic, important fields and features I’d want. Clever use of Google’s Maps API meant that setting my location 9and subsequenlty having a nice map on my event registration site) was as easy as typing the first handful of charaters of the venue’s address. A drag, drop n crop image uploader let me put my stamp on there, but the rest of the layout was really down to EventBrite. It was basic, but mobile-responsive and professional enough to share with anyone.

Most importantly though, the lack of superflouous options meant that that my event was published in a sub 10 minute timeframe. This is by far the most important part of this interaction – the other two products I looked at both took more than twice this amount of time to navigate, configure and publish. Instead of adding minimal value by tweaking non-critical options such as layout or styling, I was freed up to do more important things.

Promoting consistent goodness over sporadic greatness

This is really just an expansion on point 2, but I’ll let myself off with it. The point I want to make here is more about not giving people rope to hang themselves. Sure, if i create a complex interface that, with training and expereince, will allow users to produce beautiful and enticing event sites that mesmerise and delight people, then someone will certainly be up to the task of using it to do just that. However there are probably some people who will do a mediocre job. And worse, there are some people who will do a downright awful job.  It may not even be their fault.  Maybe the usual person is off and the new guy/girl is hastily assigned the task, with only an hour till deadline for publication. What I’m highlighting here is that the results are potentially highly variable, dependent upon the skill and experience of the user.

With the Eventbrite interface, there was no real way for me to muck it up. Most of the details were predefined on my behalf by Eventbrite.

Is it what I would have built if I had been given a fancy visual editor? Probably not.

Was it good enough? Most definitely.


  • Good tech solutions should be invisible, especially those to do with our digital identities. I said earlier that the switch in role shouldn’t really sound like much of an achievement. And that’s the point – it shouldn’t even be visible to me. It’s perhaps because I’ve had a fair few poor Digital ID experiences recently that I’m feeling a bit jaded about how common it is to see poor implementations – I guess that’s what makes it a genuine pleasure when I encounter such a seamless example.
  • Check your mental model regularly. One of the failings of the other products I looked at was that their terminology was very specific to their products. Eventbrite did a great job of making their terminology accessible to users of kinds – not just people employed in the events industry.


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