Vancouver Mural Festival Hero Image


Vancouver Mural Festival app

Affinity Bridge partnered with Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF) to create an app that helps people find and learn about all the amazing murals in the Lower Mainland. VMF has helped facilitate hundreds of murals around Vancouver over the past few years, but the history of the murals, the artists' stories, and the mural locations can be challenging to find or piece together. The new app is an amazing tool for finding the murals and well as learning more about their meaning and the artists who created them.

Arts Organizations
Project Highlights
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Interactive map allowing users to view markers on a map indicating murals around the city.

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Searchable gallery of mural artists with their photos, bios and history of their murals.

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App users can add murals to their favourites, and view them on a map to create their own tours.

App Development
Discovery Facilitation
Information Architecture
Technology Consultation
User Experience Planning
React Native
VMF app in action
The new Vancouver Mural Festival app allows users to view murals in a gallery, add them to a favourites list, find them on a map, create their own tours and learn more about the mural history and the artists behind them.

Unique customizations developed in parallel

We worked with Vancouver Mural Festival to design and build a custom backend content management system (CMS) limited only to the required fields, content types, and functionality they required. This reduced complexity for the Vancouver Mural Festival team and made adding content straightforward and easy to use. 

This CMS provided a backbone for a frontend featuring a custom tile layout homepage designed to feature selected content when users open the app. The interactive map and searchable galleries make it easy for users to find murals and learn about the artist, their history, and the stories behind their works. In addition to that, connections can be made between artists or murals the end-user likes the most, linking them to related artists and works.

It was essential for users to be able to use the app and interactive map features while offline, as many visitors to Vancouver do not have enough access to mobile data and rely on wifi. This meant the app needed to be accessible offline for locals and tourists to use without requiring a mobile data plan.

VMF screenshots


Taking the feedback from the facilitated discovery process, we started wireframing and moved into design without delay. We sought ongoing feedback from the VMF team and had regular communication and presentations along the way. Vancouver Mural Festival has a strong brand and their team had great ideas for the app and how it should look. Many elements in the app are the result of the strong collaboration between Affinity Bridge and VMF.

We took an agile approach to this project, with bi-weekly sprint planning meetings and daily scrums to make sure no one was ever blocked. We were also continuously iterating and solving problems the entire way through so we didn’t need to sweat all of the details up front. This let us jump in and start development immediately.

I’m really happy with how well the app has been received, thanks again to you and the team. I also wanted to reach out and sing Amy’s praises again. It was such a smooth process for us working on this app and I know Amy was a big part of that for us here at VMF. 

Lauren Welland, Project Manager, Vancouver Mural Festival

Bringing content to life

The tight timeline for this project was immovable: the festival date couldn't be pushed out, and the app had to be live by then. The Vancouver Mural Festival team had hundreds of artists and mural content to enter so we built the CMS first so they could enter content while we began developing the frontend. This meant that there was no way to preview the content that they were entering! A memorable turning point was the first time we connected the backend of the app to frontend and brought all of their content to life! 

We were faced with the problem of how to help people quickly and effectively search for murals when they don't know what they’re looking for. It was a challenge that inspired the filtering system we built that guides users to filter by mural style, location, or year. At first, it was slow whenever we applied a filter, but we quickly identified that the navigation library was trying to render all the tabs at once for any new filter. We resolved this by optimizing the top tabs, delaying the render until the tab displays on the screen. This made the results incredibly fast.

One of the first results the VMF team could count on was accurate mapping. Many murals are on the backs of buildings, in laneways, or in alleys so we were concerned about how the geolocation would work for finding murals. We added a customizable text field with each mural to help guide users if needed, but have found that the pins on the map are remarkably accurate. We made very few adjustments from our original strategy, and as soon as the map was live, we could go out and find murals easily.

We're proud of our work, and that the Vancouver Mural Festival has a mobile app that can be used and referenced year-round. We're excited to work with the VMF on this platform as they explore new ideas and features in the years to come.