Simplifying the conference experience.
From the Client:
Ghost Note, a creative agency, conceived of Journeyman when they encountered the difficulties in managing conference content, communications & logistics. The directive in the brief was to create a tool for organizers & attendees that made conference content management simple. In the first client meeting, the needs of conference attendee was emphasized as central to the application.
A comprehensive conference management tool for organizers & attenders for mobile, web & tablet.
My parter and I sat side-by-side for the 2 1/2 week duration of the project, sharing the research, interviewing and ideation of the Journeyman concept as it felt important that we be in sync around the research and why of the project. After the first round of concept sketching we created a stylesheet, then divided up the prototyping; I managed the Journeyman attendee application, while my partner managed the Journeyman organizer application. We stayed in constant communication throughout the prototyping to ensure the entire Journeyman application was conceptually and visually unified.
In order for us to solve the most critical problem for the end user, we needed to understand the process, challenges and opportunities in planning and attending a conference. We approached this in two ways - interviewing people who had planned, attended or presented at events, and researching tools that people use in event planning.
Research & Discovery
From our interviews, we learned that the priorities for conference attendees were networking & content and the primary challenge was navigating logistics - sorting out when & where to go.
For conference organizers, we learned that the primary challenges were also logistical; duplication of information and challenges with efficient, effective communication.
We also discovered that most event planners were patching together multiple, single-purpose tools to manage the planning & communication logistics.
We saw a connection between the logistical frustrations on the attendee side and the logistical challenges on the organizer side.
Providing a comprehensive conference management tool for both the organizer & attendee could resolve that logistical gap.
We wanted to understand the tools that event planners & attendees were using to ensure that we were not duplicating something that already existed, but also to learn best practices.
The research & interview findings indicated that providing the conference organizer with a comprehensive planning tool would create a seamless conference experience for the attendee.
To understand & organize the interdependencies of the conference experience, we identified the steps an organizer, attendee & presenter needs to complete and organized them into time categories of before, during & after the conference.
This confirmed that the majority of work falls to the organizer prior to the conference. And, confirmed that our task was to design a solution that transformed the complexities of conference planning into an easy, streamlined process for the organizer that then fed to the attendee.
Personas & User Stories
To focus and humanize the data we collected from our interviews, we created personas. We chose to represent a conference organizer, attendee & presenter as they represented the range of people who would use the Journeyman applications.
We then drafted a range of user stories for each persona that reflected the pain points & desires we heard in the interviews & organized them into one cohesive story that highlighted the MVP - the main problem we wanted to solve.
The outcome of the card sort was the client re-emphasising the attendee focus for the application. Our client worked in the same building so we showed him the whiteboard with all the conference tasks broken down by attendee, organizer & presenter with the objective of persuading him of the importance of developing a tool for both attendee and organizer but the attendee emphasis remained.
The two objectives for our next client meeting, were to 1) communicate our findings around the conference organizer workload and their need for a comprehensive tool to create a smooth attendee experience, and 2) create a shared focus for how the attendee side of the application might flow as the client had emphasized a desire for simplicity in the application.
To emphasize the importance of the organizer side in a smooth conference experience, we decided to do a card sort around topics relating to pre-conference tasks for the organizer. Our client had been involved in organizing events and we thought this would provide insight into how to prioritize these features.
We were not successful in convincing the client of the importance of the organizer portion of the application.
In retrospect, I would use a visual to communicate the interdependence of the organizer & the attendee. In our final client presentation, we successfully demonstrated the organizer & attendee relationship using imagery.
The design studio with our client around one user flow for the attendee application was more successful as we came out with sketch ideas to start the prototyping process.
Prototyping & Testing
Design Studio & Paper Prototyping
We decided to build both the attended and organizer side of the application and use that to demonstrate the importance of a comprehensive conference tool. Building on the ideas generated in the client design studio, my partner and I held another design studio to further flesh out the application.
We sketched and tested a paper prototype and made changes to the sketch based on the feedback. Before we started the digital prototype, we created a stylesheet so the attendee and organizer sides of the application would visually integrate.
After completing the first draft of the digital prototypes, we went into multiple rounds of usability testing.
One of the primary pieces of feedback on the attendee application was that the format of the conference attendee list was too broad - people wanted a more curated view of attendees so they could connect more easily. This reinforced the findings from our initial interviews that networking was a primary objective for conference attendance - in some cases, up to 80% of attendees time.
I resolved this by providing multiple attendee view options in the application. I separated the lists of conference presenters from attendees into views that you can toggle between on one screen. I also added view of attendees who attended a particular session, accessible from the session screen. All these changes make networking easier by providing the information in a more focused view.