The Evolution of Blackbird

Collective Idea provided a full-stack solution for the online event management system. We redesigned the entire website and its core functionality to provide a more scalable system and a greater user experience.

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Services offered:

Front-end development, back-end development, UI and UX design, SaaS platform development, visual design, responsive design


In 2012, Laura Vaughn created Sitting in a Tree, an online wedding invite system. As more people started using the site, she noticed a common trend: People weren’t using the system for just weddings. That gave her the idea to create Blackbird RSVP, an event management system that could handle both personal and corporate events.

As the site grew, so did the desire to accommodate events of all types. Since the first version of Blackbird had reached the limit of its functionality, Laura needed a completely new system that allowed for scalability, a site redesign, and a better user experience. To help with the “bigger and better” version of Blackbird RSVP, Laura turned to Collective Idea.

Blackbird RSVP homepage screenshot
It felt like we were really a team working together with the same goals… they were just as invested in this as I was and I think that shows up in the final product.

– Laura Vaughn, Founder & CEO of Blackbird RSVP


  1. Adapt site to work for any event
  2. Put a focus on giving users the power to design
  3. Combine ticket RSVP and ticket functionality with great design
  4. New look and feel for all of Blackbird RSVP


After meeting with Laura, the biggest theme that emerged had to do with user experience. As it stood, Blackbird had a confusing and buggy event page editor. The site needed a redesign so that all users would feel comfortable using Blackbird for more than corporate events.

It was clear that bold and beautiful imagery was paramount to Laura and her customers. With such a focus on visual imagery, the challenge was to also make it versatile and functional for users and events of all types. Using design ideas provided by Laura, we did a lot of UX validation directly in the browser as opposed to wireframes. This resulted in a faster and more fiscally responsible timeline.

Taco 'Bout it

Over a 10 month period of time, Laura and our team exchanged 14,034 messages, 503 links, and 443 files in the messaging tool, Slack.

The taco emoji, Laura’s “seal of approval” for features we shared with her, was used 59 times.

To improve the clunky page editor and make the user experience more friendly, our developers built a more organized, flexible editor powered by a robust Ruby on Rails application. We wanted to create code that could interact with the user. The end result was functionality that allowed users to drag and drop certain elements of their event page.

The first version of Blackbird RSVP only included templates that catered to corporate events. To fix that, our design team created editable templates for a wide range of events like weddings, happy hours, birthday parties and even baby showers. Depending on the template, users have the choice of using specific features for certain types of events. For example, someone organizing an event can connect a gift registry to a bridal shower or sell tickets to an upcoming conference.

Blackbird page editor screenshot
What worked best is we kept talking a lot throughout the process. Collective Idea came at the project from a customer-based, logical standpoint while I came at it from the standpoint of my normal clientele. As a result, the end product came out a lot better than it could have been.

– Laura Vaughn, Founder & CEO of Blackbird RSVP


The close collaboration between our developers and Laura led to the best, well-rounded version of Blackbird RSVP. By building the site as a Rails app we were able to make Blackbird completely scalable and flexible so that as Laura’s business grows, so can the site. Entire events can be managed through Blackbird’s dashboard including email invites, ticket sales, discount codes, and spreadsheets of guest responses.

By keeping creativity and user experience at the center of it all, Laura’s user base has quadrupled since launch.

Blackbird event screenshot



Event & Hospitality



Skills & Technologies used

Ruby on Rails, Bower, SASS, CoffeeScript, Parsley.js, Bourbon, Adobe User Experience, Visual Design, Responsive Design

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