The Sundance Institute

Mission: to foster and curate independent stories for the stage and screen. Dedicated to providing and preserving a space for emerging artists in film, theatre, film composing and digital media to create and thrive. 


Create a more appealing and innovative web experience and establish a vibrant digital brand to engage with artists and supporters who love independent storytelling.


A new web experience, making it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for, built on a restructured architecture for faster and more reliable use.  And, a client team enabled with modern software development process to continue to evolve their web product.


5 months:

  • Discovery & Framing (4 weeks), validating target users & their needs
  • Implementation Phase 1 (12 weeks), infrastructure re-build, back end services & integrations
  • Implementation Phase 2 (12 weeks), Sundance Film Festival features


1 Lead Product Designer (& Product Manager Mentor) [me]

1 Product Designer

1 Lead Software Engineer

1-3 Software Engineers

1 Sundance Product Manager

2 Sundance Software Engineers


Exploratory user research (ethnographic interviews & contextual observation); Planning & facilitation of user sessions; Synthesis & Analysis; Design research teaching & mentoring; Findings presentations; Brainstorming; Sketching; Wireframing, Prototyping; Usability testing; Visual design; Interaction design; High fidelity mockup creation


  • Defined & validated primary and secondary users
    • Primary: (1) independent artists who are interested in Sundance programs, (2) Independent storytelling enthusiasts
    • Secondary: (3) Alumni, (4) Donors
  • By understanding target users, we were able to improve marketing messaging and therefore, improved brand perception.  New messaging made Sundance more approachable and allowed Sundance to better engage their target audiences.
  • User Experience Improvements:
    • Simplified site navigation from 10+ headings to 4 headings.
    • Grew local audiences by featuring local events to keep Sundance communities engaged & informed.
    • Better showcased Sundance artists and their work.
    • Made it easier to purchase festival tickets and see when films were playing at The Sundance Film Festival.  As a result, web sales of individual tickets sold out faster than in the past.
    • Improved engagement: Tripled average length of stay on site and reduced bounce rate.
  • Enabled Sundance team:
    • Executive team embraced user centered design to inform product and business decisions moving forward.
    • Marketing leadership trained on user research product development & the Product Manager role to lead continued app development
    • Better communication between Marketing and Technology teams to effectively further site development.
    • 2 software developers trained on modern software development processes.
  • By restructuring the site’s back end, Sundance was able to track all interactions with artists and supporters over time which allowed the institute to reference past interactions for more meaningful correspondence (i.e.: targeted drip campaigns to artists, donors, volunteers & storytelling enthusiasts)
  • Built a brand new cloud-native application leveraging open source tooling and components.  Developers and Designer collaborated to implement key front end features using Javascript and HTML5 for faster, future iteration.
  • The past site was unable to handle peak traffic during two key events: (1) when films are announced for the Sundance Film Festival and (2) during the 10-day Sundance Film Festival. The site made it through the 2015 Sundance Film Festival without crashing or suffering from slowed performance (a first for Sundance!).
  • By moving the site to a new cloud platform Sundance reduced operation costs by (1) only pay for additional server time when at peak traffic, (2) freeing up IT staff from focusing on keeping servers running, to focusing on new feature development.
  • This project served as one of the Los Angeles office's first Design case studies and helped to sell more Design work and therefore, evolve Pivotal’s Product practices.
Legacy Landing Page (Wordpress Template)

Legacy Landing Page (Wordpress Template)