Pierogi Fest™ 2016





The Pierogi Fest app was intended to keep festival goers digitally engaged in in the experience around them. With different key features, users will be able to view schedules of events, vendor listings and maps on their iPhone or Android device. Users will be immersed in festival and city history through rich and engaging content and will have access the fest’s social media experience centralized in one place. In addition, the app needed to be a place where the Chamber could gather user’s email addresses so they could learn more about other events put on by the WRCC.



The style you see now on the app is completely different from the style that was first created. At first, the design aesthetic represented in a way this new digital push by Pierogi Fest, with fonts that were very techie. The colors were red and white, to go along with the Pierogi Fest logo. When a user looked at it, it very much gave off the sense of a sports and athletic app.


This approach was not the ideal way to style the app, so instead the style changed to what is live now. The pink reminiscent of Pepto-Bismol and evergreen hues and buildable square serif font reflect the branding on the iconic signage throughout the fest that has been around since the first Pierogi Fest. The look and feel of this app is functional and captures the wackiness of the fest. But, even though the style is a bit wacky, it is still simple and functional.

Functional navigation was one of the biggest parts of any app. If it’s not easy for a user to navigate, then they simply won’t use it. Because of this, there were many different things to take in consideration while designing this navigational experience. For example, there are so many different types and sizes of smartphones. With every new smartphone that is released, whether it’s by Apple or Android, they keep getting bigger and bigger. The actual physical size of the technology was a key factor in choosing this bottom tier main navigation. The bigger the phone, the harder it is to physically move your thumbs to the top of the screen. This isn’t to say that there couldn’t be any top tier navigation; all secondary navigation, such as back and section toggle buttons are sticky at the top of the screen. Other sections, such as the characters, map and vendor sections, required there to be a whole different set of sub main navigation. The idea of a hamburger navigation menu in the upper left hand corner of each screen was not used because of the physical size of the technology and it’s lack of functionality.  

IMG_2263 IMG_5638


Like with any first time app, there were some problems in the initial development. Below are detailed problems and the solutions that will be put in place for the next version.


ANDROID STORAGE: One of the key things that was learned during development was that the Android version was (and will likely continue to be) the most buggy. Android has so many versions out currently on every device they have (Samsung, HTC, Moto, etc.), and each different Android version has a different amount of storage. Because of this, the sometimes large file sizes that are in the app caused certain sections of the app to not load. This most often occurred in the map and gallery sections. THE SOLUTION: For the gallery, the solution is fairly easy, with two options: Cut down the number of photos in the gallery (current and fest history sections) or divide the main gallery into sections (ie., entertainment, vendors, parade, etc.). For the map section, the main issue was that it was from the start created as a high-resolution vector PNG file (which is the preferred format for something as illustrative as this anyways). The solution to this not loading on Android is to keep the same format, but break it up by the different sections of the fest (ie., food vendors, artisan market, etc.) or by east and west ends of 119th Street.


EMAIL SIGNUP: One of the biggest key things that needed to be put in the app from the beginning was a way to capture email addresses of the users so they can be sent information on other events put on by the Chamber. At first, we thought this was going to be done by using a software feature to capture the addresses, which would later be available to us in the software’s back end. This turned out to cost more money than initially intended, so we needed to find another solution. That brought us to the use of a Google form, that would be easily accessed as soon as the app was opened, therefore forcing the user to input their email address before they could even get to the rest of the app. In hindsight, this was the perfect solution, but then it was quickly realized that even if the user had previously opened the app and submitted their email, the next time they opened the app they would be required to input their email again (and again and again and again). This became a huge turnoff to users, because they did not want to submit their email address every single time the app opened, especially if they were going to be really utilizing the app during the festival. THE SOLUTION: The solution to this problem was to completely reorganize the layout of the contents page so that the option of submitting their email address. In the end, this led to almost 40 email address captured. The original screen is on the left, and the current, reorganized page is on the right:

Contents_use screenshots-04 25-01

The final product only changed slightly from the above aesthetics. After user testing, with both other app developers and non-designers, it was found that the organization of the bottom tier main navigation was not exactly where it should be. The original ‘more’ button was confusing to these test users; they were unsure of what it meant in relation to the app’s main content areas. Testers suggested that instead of the button being labeled as ‘home’ or ‘contents.’


When it was originally listed as ‘more’ with a list icon, the button gave off a more unsure feeling. By changing the button and icon to say ‘Home,’ the bottom tier main navigation felt more intuitive, allowing users to actually know what was going to be waiting for them when they tapped it.



The Pierogi Fest social media team worked before, during, and after the fest to provide followers with constant updates and content. Pre-fest coverage engaged followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and allowed them to get excited for the things to come at the festival. During the festival, we introduced @pierogifest on Snapchat, covered entertainment and vendors and engaged with the community online. Exclusive content was provided on different social mediums to drive and push followers to interact with us on each of our social platforms.


During pre-fest coverage, the team used popular social media trends to engage and drive followers, such as #MCM, #WCW, #NationalBestFriendDay, etc. Creation of Pierogi Fest gifs were ideal to get people excited about the fest, and were completely relatable to those who enjoy coming to the fest each year.

Coverage and engagement during the fest was impactful on each platform. Followers turned to our social channels to get updates on the weather on Friday, especially during the time leading up to the parade, as well as ask questions about parking, vendors, etc. (while we did interact and answer follower questions, most of these responses were tailored toward advertising the app and pushing app downloads).


When the social media team started pre-fest coverage in late June, Facebook was by far the most followed social channel. The team went in with Facebook just over 12.3K ish followers, and after the fest, that number was upped by just about 4%, with a total of 13,065 followers now.


At the start of coverage, the Pierogi Fest Twitter had 125 followers. By the end of the fest, we upped that count to 315. Twitter was probably one of the most fun platforms to work with, as the team really engaged with the community as they talked about the festival through witty responses and GIF integration. This type of engagement allowed us to gain traction and get us noticed by some pretty cool people: When a follower told Liev Schrieber, star of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” he should come and check out Pierogi Fest, we responded saying that, yes, he should come. He responding saying that he was sorry he couldn’t make it because he needed about a month off from the most recent season of Ray Donavon. 

We also got to talk with (and get a Snapchat interview with) Zack Novak, a former University of Michigan basketball player because of our Twitter presence, got the White Sox mascot Southpaw to follow us, and got Mark Lazerus, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Blackhawks beat writer, to come to the fest with his family.


Instagram started off with the least amount of followers going into the fest (there were less than 15). With our consistent posts and coverage, we upped that count to over 325 (and counting) by the end of the fest. The goal is to use Instagram throughout the year to keep audiences engaged and excited for next year’s festival.


The social media team’s snapchat coverage of the festival exceeded expectations. We went into thinking Snapchat would just be a new and fun way to get people who weren’t at the fest engaged in the weekend, and it did just that. Our custom on-demand geofilters were viewed by fest goers 250K times and used almost 4,000 times. Because of these uses, Pierogi Fest made it onto the Chicagoland Snap Story on Friday night, which allowed our own coverage and the coverage of fest goers to be seen by all of the Snapchat users in the Chicagoland area (see just some of the screenshots from that story below). These filters were successful across the board unanimously. The only one that did not outshine any of the others was the Dunk a Nun filter.
Problems with Snapchat included sometimes over posting to our story. We consistently got well over a hundred views at any given time when new content was posted, but if we didn’t monitor and delete posts that were posted from hours before, the views consistently decreased.

Below are the filters that were created for the fest.

Pierogi Fest Snapchat Filters-01 Pierogi Fest Snapchat Filters-02 Pierogi Fest Snapchat Filters-03 Pierogi Fest Snapchat Filters-04 Pierogi Fest Snapchat Filters-06 Pierogi Fest Snapchat Filters-07








1 Comment

Would you like to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *