Innovation Accelerator

Product Design Strategy •  End-to-End UX Process

Sheridan College's Virtual Internship Program where I was selected to be part of a winning multidisciplinary student think tank team to pitch and develop a speculative solution for Canadian Film Fest.

Roles - Design Facilitation, Strategy,
UX Design, Prototyping & 3D modelling

Timeline - 8 Weeks

Team - UX Designer, Animator,
Mobile Computing & Game Designer

Figma Website Prototype
Virtual Venue Prototype



In light of the COVID pandemic, Canadian Film Fest (CFF) had to shift their flagship film festival event over to a virtual conference platform. While still functional and successful, it has missed the "importance of community culture and social capital, where the meeting between films and their audiences foster a set of interpersonal relations similar to families."
NECSUS - Rethinking Proximity in Times of COVID-19

Wider Access Bring
Benefits and Challenges
Festivals as Curators
and Convenors
A Strategic Approach
is Needed

Whistler Film Festival - The Future of Film Festivals


How might we re-envision the future of film festivals in Canada to elevate the Canadian Film Fest's National Presence?

Project Process


Clarifying the Problem Space

We can think of the obvious impacts with event cancellations, but the additional information provides us with other areas of importance to consider. In-person events are slowly returning but the film market space has other areas to branch out moving forward as a hybrid event. I was responsible for delegating research, work, and compilation of findings. As the team provided their findings, I would prompt and facilitate user experience activity sessions to enable insightful discussions through these design tools.

Affinity Diagram takeaways

  • Ticket sales reduction due to pandemic closures created large financial deficits, where CFF shared they nearly went bankrupt continuing their festival. They are dependent on ticket sales and sponsorship income
  • Film makers within their distribution strategies use film festivals for promotion. Networking opportunities are lost as online connections feel less personal

Five Whys breakdown

  • There wasn't enough coverage or notice about CFF unless you're well acquainted with film culture/events
  • Canadian's film industry doesn't have the same level of film influence as our American counterpart
  • There is a stigma of Canadian film culture and our genres, we aren't really known for blockbusters
  • Larger film productions are money makers and make more than Canadian indie films
  • American Hollywood-ism and their dominance of film culture

Journey Map takeaways

  • Pointed out key experiences throughout a typical film festival event without the context of the pandemic
  • Whatever highlights people have in person we can try to replicate virtually with our solution, while trying to minimize the lowlights

Our demographic was already determined for us by CFF and we used the information to visualize a general audience of movie watchers, film makers and film industry. These tools allowed us to empathize with our users to understand what experiences are necessary to capture in a virtual film festival alternative.


Exploring Potential Solutions

Following our research phase, I helped to prepare an analysis and report to be presented to CFF. Afterwards, our research informed our ideation phase to think about solutions. Being the only team member with human-centered design practice, again I facilitated user experience design iteration including Hills & Needs statements and the following activities.

How Might We takeaways

  • Identified how impactful film festivals are for Canadian Film Fest and their respective community and Canadian film culture
  • Framing and clarifying design requirements of various audiences that would engage with CFF; sponsors, filmmakers, viewers, etc
  • Thinking about the online accessibility of virtual film festivals

Crazy 8's takeaways

  • Removal of project constraints and limitations for exploration of innovative solutions
  • As main design facilitator, reframing and combining team ideations into a vision that is obtainable and feasible to prototype while being creative for the film market

Decision Matrices takeaways

  • Reframing combined solutions as a way to identify what would be currently feasible with the technology, time, and practicality of what the team can deliver as a pitch

Once all of the design tool activities were completed, I facilitated another compilation of team thoughts and ideas in order to narrow down a focus. We listed individual takeaways and consolidated our design thinking into a website forward strategy. It combines a website rebranding with a focus on an interactive feature.


Rapid Turnaround

Realizing the lack of accessibility of the website. It never occurred to us because we did not constrain the ideation and research to focus the process on creating a website. It was the nature of the design thinking process that led us to the website forward strategy and recognizing that their current site needs work.

Canadian Film Fest website heuristic analysis:

  • Aesthetic and Minimalist Design - prior circa fall 2021, the old version of the CFF provided information overload on the homepage where all information, important and unnecessary, was shown
  • Consistency and Standards - sitemap navigation provided too many options that could be organized further or reorganized to reduce information overload

In addition to a website overhaul, to re-envision the future of Canadian film festivals into a online hybrid alternative, we developed a working 3D prototype that simulates a virtual festival. Users would interact with virtual kiosks in place of their physical counter parts. A virtual photo booth, theatre, conference room, and lounge are made to reflect a gamified experience where all virtual participants can be part of.

Testing and Refinement

After developing a mid-fidelity prototype for a week, we had the opportunity to perform a small usability test with another team in the program but outside of our problem space. Our purpose of testing is to identify what kind of response and feedback we will receive with our design changes and approach to our problem.

Usability Testing takeaways:

  • The original lacks modern visual impact, while being dense with content on the homepage leading to information overload
  • There is no visual calendar system to see when movies are premiering, dates and times shown through text only got tedious
  • CFF provides masterclasses which they found very interesting, showcasing those services more can be beneficial to CFF's branding
  • Including a VOD service helped users to quickly find movies, recommended we add additional filters by genre and search options
  • The virtual venue proved to be creative among test users, adding features like live chats and more interactions suggested

Final Sitemap

My Takeaways

Add more to UI design and developmentWhile my focus was on proper UX facilitation for both the team and to show our design thinking process during progress reports, I took a step back from UI design to prevent myself from taking over all aspects of the project. My experience in general as a facilitator makes me think about the importance of group dynamics and team cohesion. That aside, I wanted to improve the additional aspects of the UI to further enhance the rebranding that came alongside the website forward strategy package.

UX Maturity In this team situation where I was the only member with practice in human centered design, I made myself responsible to provide the right user experience design facilitation. It was difficult and an strong exercise to explain the importance of these activities in a design focused pitch and environment. In situations where I need to part of a team, business or organization with a lower level of UX maturity in place, I will be required to take on more seniority and responsibility for UX practices.