The Design Team

UX Research, Design, Testing:

Darrell Chan

Katherine Yoder

The Project

Ghost Note is an integrated marketing agency proudly based in the District of Columbia. They wanted a tool to simplify the conference experience.

Journeyman is a conference management system designed from the ground up to integrate the entire conference experience into one tool; a seamless experience from organizer to attendee.

 

User Interviews for the Conference Attendee

Research

Research was conducted through both in-person and phone interviews with conference organizers, presenters, and attendees. We wanted to make sure we had a solid grasp of each of those roles before starting our design process.

When trying to find the problem, we needed to take a look why the conference exists in the first place: the attendees.

 
“Where is the room I need to be in and where is that compared to where I am?”
“Finding sessions was challenging. Some conferences had good signage, but I would often ask staff to help direct me.”

Scratching the Surface

Why do attendees go to conferences? What stops them from having a simple, streamlined conference experience?

What we learned from our interviews is that attendees go to conferences to learn and to connect with others. However, conference logistics often hampered that experience. Often times, attendees would be confused at where sessions were taking place or how to get there. Other times, they didn't know when they were supposed to be at a certain place and end up missing parts of a session. Essentially, they're wasting time.

 

Digging Deeper

With the insight gained from the attendee interviews, we went to find out what was causing their frustration. Why was it so challenging to find information relevant to what the attendee needs to know? The answer came from our conference organizer interviews.

Conference organizers are also wasting time.

Organizers use too many different platforms to put together a conference. These include tools for content management, organization, registration, space management, and communication.

However, they were wasting time because of different reasons:

  • too many platforms to manage all the complexities that are part of the typical conference planning experience.
  • too much duplication of work that could be automated
  • too many forms of communication

Let's put that into context. One organizer we interviewed told us that even the most simple task of changing a room for a session was a huge undertaking for the organizer. For the attendee, they get notified of the room change through an announcement or a posted sign. Simple.

However, the organizer gets swamped. This is a short list of what an organizer goes through for that same room change:

  • update Google Spreadsheet
  • call to inform presenter
  • print new signs
  • make announcement at other sessions
  • update Trello
  • make public service announcement
  • update printed materials
  • answer phone calls because people don't see signs and don't hear PSA
  • send out GroupMe to staff
  • reprint pamphlets
  • post signs on doors
  • update Twitter
  • update Nexudus
“My challenge now is spending time on logistics. But I would rather spend that time on curating and focusing on content.”
“People don’t read!”
“Much of the frustration is paper.”
“Getting people to interact with social media is challenging.”
“The biggest challenge is keeping track of changes, ie. going back and seeing when it was changed and who made the change.
“I’m currently manually emailing slide decks to students.”
 

Breaking down the conference

The next step in our process was to get a detailed, visual picture of what was required at every step of the process for each the organizer, attendee, and presenter.

Based on what we found through the interviews, we mapped out the journey that each one goes through during the conference experience using Post-It notes.

We then broke down each role's activities, identified the overlaps, and categorized them into the purposes they served. We found that at every step of the conference experience, the organizers, presenters, and attendees had tasks that were heavily integrated into each other.

 

We then took it even further and broke down each individual task into categories based on what happens before, during, and after the conference for each of the roles. This is when we finally understood the fundamental issues with the conference experience.

  1. The majority of the work for a conference falls to the organizer before the conference.
  2. The seamlessness of the attendee and presenter experiences fully depend on the organizer.
 

The Conference Organizer

To design for the Conference Organizer, we had to look at what tool each organizer was using for what purpose. Those we had interviewed said that they had used each tool because it served a specific purpose.

  • Google Spreadsheets were mostly used to organize information.
  • Eventbrite and nvite were used for registration.
  • GroupMe and Slack were both used for team communication.
  • Dropbox and Google Drive were used for content management.

We wanted to take all of these tools and combine them into a single interface, which combined all of the use cases that organizers use different platforms for.

 

Low Fidelity

 

High Fidelity prototype

 
 

The Conference Attendee

Sketches/Low Fidelity

 

High Fidelity Prototype

 
 
 

Future Considerations

  • Building conference registration directly into Journeyman allows attendees and presenters carry their information over from conference to conference
  • Internal Messaging for Organizers and Attendees - Attendees and presenters would be able to communicate with conference organizers through Journeyman.
  • iBeacon/AltBeacon - location tracking for indoors
  • Survey functionality - Organizers and Presenters could receive feedback directly through Journeyman instead of relying on a third party service.
  • Offline Mode - Conference venues often have unreliable WiFi and slow cellular data connections. We want to provide a way for attendees to access the information even when they're not connected to a network.
  • Filter for Sessions - For those conferences with an abundance of sessions, we want to let attendees filter sessions based on both the type of session (workshop, networking, lecture, etc.) and theme/track.
  • Will this application be branded as Journeyman, or should it be white label?