BeThereNYC is about free, cheap, fun, here and now. It is a personal project I started tinkering with in Spring 2010. I wanted to create a site that listed all the free and cheap events around the city.

Every summer I’d aggregate the calendars from organizations like SummerStage and River to River into one shared Google calendar. I’d share it with friends who in turn would share it with their friends, and they found it so useful that I started to become known for it over the years. I made it a personal project to see if I can make a usable website with the same concept. I would fill in all the summer calendar and visitors will have the opportunity to post their own events or events they’ve heard of.

I refined this project while at ITP and focused the core idea: events that one could go to now or in the very near future. BeThereNYC focuses on whats happening around you, now and and with in the next 36hrs. Read about my progress on my school blog.

I built a JSON API for the data so anyone can use the events in their own project and the entire project is open source. It built with Node.js. You can view all the code or fork it on GitHub.

Usability Testing

I used a technique outlined in this video, and sat down with three people to do user testing.

  1. I defined 5 most important things people should be able to do or know.
  2. I wrote a script for myself
  3. I started by asking about who they are, they’re level of comfortability with tech, and chatted a bit so that they are comfortable talking. 
  4. I asked about their first general impressions of the site.
  5. Then I asked them to perform a task that I’ve outlined while talking out loud as much as possible, so I can hear their thought process. The tasks I outlined were:
    • find an event happening near you now and share it with a friend
    • find an event happening in another specified area later today
    • add an event to the site
  6. At the end I allowed them to ask questions and would fully describe my project.

You can find a detailed script and the feedback on my student blog here.

People had the most trouble in adding an event and in finding the home button (or logo). So I moved the logo to the top, a more traditional place. I spent some time really crafting the event submission process which was something I had taken for granted the first round, and created the tree below to fully understand the steps need to adding an event to the site. I was also careful to use friendlier language in the form itself so it wasn’t so bland. Check out the final results: