Building a visual tool to explore where Belgian artists perform concerts abroad

After some initial positive feedback on the beta version of our tool to see where Belgian artists do concerts abroad, we decided to make this tool for real. Great news!

The backend in which all the concerts are being aggregated is running relatively smoothly. So, the hard work is now to present a visually appealing tool that discloses the wealth of data that is available in a way that it becomes clear to end users what they can get out of it.

This means we have to think about our target audience, how they will want to use the tool and how we want them to use the tool. At the same, time we want to leverage the tool to optimize the way we can support artists, while also managing expectations: this tool will not do miracles.

While we are busy on the drawing board, allow me to list some interesting examples of tools that disclose a lot of data that is somewhat similar to our concert data, in the sense of “who”, “what”, “where” and “when”. For each, I make a quick analysis listing their pros and cons along the lines “flexibility” (how much freedom is there for the user), “guidance” (how well are users guided to get the most of the tool) and “context” (is there an explanation about how to use the tool, why it was built and so on?).

Belgian Tech Startup Scene

De database contains information about startups and their support organisations. The data is structured around the facets “type”, “industry”, “technology”, “founding”, and “funding”. Each of the facets has a logical way of filtering (selection boxes, dropdowns and time ranges). There are not too many facets, and each facet has a manageable amount of levels. The map representation shows the items on the map clustered, which avoids overload. By clicking on the map items, you are first brought to a quick info bar on the right, with the option to go for more details on a dedicated page.

The page does make the assumption that everybody is clear on what one could get out of this data. There is no page laying out potential use cases, only a page about legalese for reusing the data. This makes this tool a swiss army knife, but not necessarily a ready to use tool for the end user. This could be remedied by offering some guidance.

Lasso-netwerk is the Brussels organisation for cultural participation and art education. They are offering a data tool in which all active organisations are presented along four axes “culture”, “youth”, “adults” and “education”. Each ax has several sublevels. There are only four axes, which makes this very manageable. The map uses color to make a distinction between the axes. On the top of the page, there is a short text outlying the purpose of the tool, and below the map visualization, the organisations are simply listed.

Whereas the text is quite clear about how to use the tool, it is not a very inviting piece of text to go through. The map visualization is so colorful and appealing that you are not focussing on the text.

List of Residencies | ResArtis

Resartis provides an overview of residency spots world wide. The residency spots are sorted along the axes Keyword, Country, City, Facilities / Support, Duration of residency, Organisation type, Setting, Working language, Companions allowed, Type/Size of Studio, Accomodation and Wheelchair. For each residency spot, there is a dedicated page with a lot of detailed information.

There is no map visualization, and the amount of dimensions on which you can filter the data is too much. There is a small text on the top of the page, but it does not explain how to use the tool, or with which purpose.

Find your residency | Transartists

Transartists is similar to resartis — why are there two platforms doing the same… — in that it offers an overview of residencies in the world. Here, there is a nice map visualization. There are only three axes to filter the spots: region, country and discipline. The three axes contain many sublevels and all of them are dropdowns. Below the map visualization there is a simple list view, with pagination.

Again, there is no clear explanation on how to use the tool, nor how you could be most effective in obtaining a residency. Yes, it is easy to find an organisation that offers a recidency, but how do you know if it is a good spot for you?

EFA Festival Finder

European Festivals Association

The EFA Festival finder offers a map visualization and a filtering bar where you can find festivals in a certain country and genre, together with a time range filter. The festivals are listed below the map and filter bar by means of large icons, on which you can click to obtain more detailed information.

Again, a clear explanation on how to use the tool is lacking: to simply list festivals in a certain region is nice, but is this for visitors of the festival, or for people that want to perform on the festival? Should you just mass mail all these festivals?

The platform, made by Poppunt, offers a directory of small and young bands in Flanders. They can be filtered and found by checking “type of act”, “genre”, “area” and some frequentists metrics. Then, the bands are listed below with tile visualizations.

There is no text explaining what the status is of these bands, or how the data is collected, nor what the purpose is of the platform. Moreover, there are so many bands, that every filter returns hundreds if not thousands of bands.