Songkick | Solving Online Queueing Problems
Currently, when there is a great demand for concert tickets, fans are placed in an online queue. Sometimes, the queues can take up to two hours and add a lot of stress to the ticket buying process.
Q1: Create a better queueing solution for fans.
Q2: Create a few approaches to onboard fans passing through the queue.
To learn more about the problem, I have done user research and conducted surveys, interviews and observations with the target users.
This interview included the following questions:
Describe your experience of online queueing. (What company where you buying from? What were you trying to attend / do? How were you notified that you can proceed with your purchase?)
Did you manage to buy the ticket?
Why not if not?
How convenient was the waiting experience?
How long did you wait?
Do you have anything else to add about the experience?
The interviews highlighted a number of pain-points that people came across when being put in a waiting queue online. The pain-points were then prioritised based based on the occurrence or issues and their severity.
For the purpose of this exercise I concentrated on major issues which include:
Users do not know how long they have to wait in an online queue;
While waiting in the queue, the wait time displayed is not accurate;
While waiting in the queue, the users can be kicked out from the queue;
While waiting in the queue for a long time, users switch to other activities, which leads to them missing their turn in the queue.
Waiting times and strategies
When the user joins the queue, the system should be able to estimate how long they should wait based on how many users are ahead of them, and what is the average time for the user to complete a purchase. The estimated time should refresh automatically when the amount of users is updated.
Depending on the popularity of the show, there might be different queueing times. Regardless of how long the waiting time is, any user would like to know when they can come back to complete the action.
Knowing from the interviews, the waiting can take up anything from a couple of minutes up to 2 hours, I broke the experience into 3 waiting time categories:
short waiting time of up to 2 minutes;
waiting time 2-15 minutes;
waiting time of more than 15 minutes.
1. Short waiting time of up to 2 minutes
If the users know their waiting time is up to 2 minutes, they are likely to stay on the page and patiently wait when their turn comes.
To make this time unnoticeable, there can be introduced rotating auto messages, engaging the users and reassuring them that they are able to purchase a ticket soon:
“Please, wait for a minute, we are just checking the tickets availability for you”,
“Our system is loading, and we will get the ticket details in no time“,
“A few more moments, and you are ready to go”.
Messages like this appearing on user’s screen every 10 seconds will let them know the tickets will be available very soon. This will keep the users on the browser tab, so they won’t miss their turn, and won’t stress out about the experience.
Based on the testing I ran, 2 minutes is the maximum amount of time that the users will bare having automatic messages fed to them.
2. Waiting time 2 – 15 minutes
If the waiting time is more like a 15 minutes experience, the users might still want to be checking the page, but auto generated messages alone are not going to work for such a long time. In this case, along with the timer, there could be introduced a column with articles on a related topic, little puzzle games, or even a group chat option for people waiting in the queue. Users can pick either of these activities without leaving this browser tab, and keeping an eye on the queue time updates.
“There is a little queue, our system says your turn will approximately take one game of sudoku. Do you want to play a game?”
3. Waiting time 15+ minutes
According to the results of the first interview stage, with a longer waiting experience, many would prefer to keep doing what they were doing before buying a ticket: work, study, browsing the internet, etc. In this case, the best would be letting the users know their approximate time as well as telling them they will be given a sound / popup notification a few minutes before their time. If users are not using the app yet, they might get suggested to install one so they will get a notification on their phone too.
The users might also get an option to get a notification via SMS, if they are on the go / don’t have an app installed / don’t get an access to the internet (which probably won’t be the case, but still worth considering).
All ideas were prototyped in Adobe XD, after which I validated them with users.
Despite the time of wait, fans need to know how big the queue is and get an estimate of how long they should wait if they join the queue. Since different time frames are of a different waiting value, the users should be given an option of how to use these time frames in the best for them way.
Role: Research, UX consultancy
Tools: Adobe XD