The goal

Soundsonder is a wayfinding service that introduces tourists to the people and places of Pittsburgh’s music scene based on their personal preferences.

The users

Our primary users were domestic tourists staying in Pittsburgh for a weekend visit who arrive through the Pittsburgh airport.

The team

I worked with Devika Singh and Matt Prindible.

Final concept

 concept details


Value flow

Designing a service which generates tangible value was much harder than we expected. In short, Soundsonder’s tangible value is produced through users paying for premium content.

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Service blueprint

Our service blueprint outlines a user's weekend trip to Pittsburgh from arrival to departure. Our biggest challenges were designing how to bring users into the service itself and retain user engagement across multiple changes in location.

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"Tunnel moment"

Soundsonder enhances the experience of seeing Pittsburgh from the Fort Pitt Tunnel by syncing the reveal of the city with music. This moment will engage users, encouraging them to use the app once inside the city.

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"Make it a night"

When using Soundsonder to select a choice of entertainment, for example, a restaurant, a user can use the “Make it a night” feature. This free feature will automatically add several attractions nearby the restaurant to the user’s itinerary.

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A service’s backbone is made up of touchpoints, distinct moments where users exchange value. Understanding how to bridge the interaction gap between digital and physical elements was a primary challenge within each touchpoint.






Service blueprinting

 full process



We speed-dated a handful of different concepts, many of them focusing on traveling. These concepts included an international music walking tour, but we decided to pursue a concept we felt had more monetary value: chatbots.


Slight detour: chatbots

While initially it seemed there would be clearer monetary value in social media data, we soon found ourselves lost. None of us had enough experience in big data analytics, so we decided to move away from this concept.


After some reflection and discussion, we came back to the idea of a music walking tour, but based it in Pittsburgh. With a Pittsburgh walking tour, it became much easier to build a realistic service experience based on research.



Interview: Visit Pittsburgh

We interviewed Scott Hershberger, the director of tourism services, about the demographics and interests of Pittsburgh tourists. The nuance and specificity of touchpoints greatly increased as a result.

  • The Visit Pittsburgh airport desk engages about 4,000 people/month (person to person interactions)

  • Tourists don’t want to just eat dinner at a restaurant, they want to “make a night of it”

  • Domestic tourism and “boomerangs” have been rising

Service blueprinting

We expanded our initial storyboard into a full user journey, the highlighted row on the left, then began building out columns. Each column included back stage processes, service touchpoints, interaction channels, and more.

Service components

Researching and leaning on current music and tourism infrastructure was a necessity in order to ground Soundsonder’s functionality in the real world.

More speed-dating

Through this process, we saw opportunities to engage users while they were waiting, while users were waiting around baggage claim or at their AirBnB or hotel. In these moments, users were relatively more receptive to the engaging with Soundsonder.