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Q&A with the Designers of Viral Sensation ‘Berghain Trainer’

The story behind the website that simulates getting into Berlin’s most exclusive club.

The door policy of Berghain has sparked hundreds of step-by-step guides, personal narratives and video tutorials. Located in a former power plant in Berlin, the club specializes in electronic music and notorious debauchery.

Sven Marquardt is the head of security and turns away hopeful clubgoers for mysterious reasons. Are they speaking English too much? Are they too drunk? Not drunk enough? Dress too fancy? You can stand in line for hours only to be turned away in a matter of seconds.

To mimic the experience, designers Vinzenz Aubry and Fabian Burghardt created the website Berghain Trainer. You give the site access to your camera and microphone, then answer the doorman’s questions. Will you be denied or selected as cool enough for the club?

We asked Aubry and Burghardt about their Berghain Trainer to get an insider’s perspective on creating a viral sensation that got thousands of shares in just a few days. They responded via email and answered the questions together.

Format: The idea for Berghain Trainer is simple, yet clever. Those are the hardest ideas to come up with. How did you get this idea?

Vinzenz Aubry & Fabian Burghardt: We are designers with a focus on interaction design, UX design and web technologies. We wanted to build a website with new opportunities for navigating. As we are interested in the Berlin techno scene, we came up with the idea of building an interactive club bouncer trainer and wanted to create an experience as realistic as possible.

Where you surprised by how viral this website became?

We never thought this project will be that viral, it was just a little fun idea. In the first hours we forgot to append the Google Analytics code on the right area of the code and lost some details of the user analysis.

What tools did you use to create this project?

We used some awesome JavaScript libraries for face tracking and sound visualization. The rest was built from scratch. It’s too bad that audio input via microphone isn’t supported by many browsers so our users have to use Chrome.

Finding good speech recognition was also very terrifying. We started by using the Google Speech API but found a much nicer library for our project: annyang.js.

The most challenging part was the user experience design and interface: how to create an experience that feels as realistic as possible. We did endless iterations on the user flow and interface but we think it figured out very well and self-explanatory.

How did the collaboration work? Where there any challenges of working together on this project?

The good thing is that we are flatmates and classmates. We are working on countless little and big projects together. We are exchanging ideas and inspiration like 24/7. That’s why we have a very agile workflow and never face communication or management problems.

And lastly, have you gotten into the real Berghain?

We have been to Berghain and we love the quality of the club. The Trainer isn’t built on the real bouncer questions; it’s just a fun website demonstrating the technique.

Try out Berghain Trainer for yourself and let us know if you got in. Tag @useformat on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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