IxDA Conference App
Complex Scheduling and Privacy
The Interaction Design Association has an annual conference and needs a way to help attendees have a rich experience. The solution is this concept scheduling app, which gives users the power to personalize their conference experience and make the most of every moment.
My Role: User Research, Information Architecture, Scenarios, Sketching, Usability Testing, Developer SME
Tools: Axure, Omnigraffle, Photoshop, pen and paper, whiteboarding
Duration: 2 weeks
Team Size: 4
In this concept piece, the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) needed a more robust mobile application to provide to its annual conference attendees. It had used a white-label app called Sched to manage this in the past, but the app didn’t have many features and the attendees rarely used it.
IxDA wanted an indispensable app that followed its mission to help people connect meaningfully with technology. It was an important way to give back to its conferences’s attendees.
The app would be used to help people manage their time, their contacts and their privacy. The real challenge of this application was presenting a lot of information in a clear and simple way, and balancing the social aspects of a professional event.
I started work on interviewing potential users by writing the screener and interview scripts. I targeted people who had gone to at least one large conference (1,000+ attendees), and either did or would consider using an application that came as a companion to conference registration.
Affinity Diagram and Persona
In order to get everyone on the same page regarding user characteristics, the team organized notes from the research into an affinity diagram, which set the foundation for our persona's needs and goals.
Our persona, Maude, was a tech-savvy design professional, very committed to the UX community and very intentional with regard to her networking strategy. She was also extremely organized and wanted to make the most of every minute at the Interaction15 conference.
Her main problem was information overload. Because there are so many details to keep track of at the conference, we wanted to give her a way to track her schedule, remember who she met and why she wanted to connect with them as well as give her a way to locate colleagues and others.
Privacy was also at the forefront of our minds because the app deals with a tight-knit community with professionalism as one of their key tenets.
I created scenarios to determine situations in which our persona would use the application and what she would need in order to reach her goals.
With a firm grasp of our users' needs at the forefront of our minds, we came together to plan the application and determine which features would make the biggest impact. We decided on:
- A "My Calendar" feature to organize a personal schedule separate from the main conference schedule. It would let the user know if they already scheduled an event and allow them to choose between the two.
- A way to add Contacts to keep in touch with people users meet at events.
- A "colleague beacon" that would allow a selected group of people to track the user's location on the conference map.
- Rich privacy settings to allow the user fine-grained control over what information is visible and what is not.
After we created and organized that list, we began sketching. Each of us created approximately 10+ sketches about the selected features and presented them to the group.
We talked over the best elements of each of them to determine what would go in our application, brainstorming implementation along the way.
Using a feature list, I created a sitemap and user flow document with navigation items listed. This helped me conceptualize the app in my mind and help turn sketches into real flows.
The next stage in our process centered around design studio. We conducted four of them based on the top user flows we wanted to see in the application.
For each user flow we designed each screen intentionally. We put ourselves into the user's shoes and thought about what screens they would need to get from beginning to end successfully.
After each design studio, we presented our designs to the team and fielded questions from each other. We took the best elements of each person's design, combined them and finalized our user flows on the whiteboard.
With our screens finalized and documented, they were prototyped in Axure.
When it came to determining a visual design, we wanted to keep true to the clean black-and-white look of the IxDA's website. We added a single pop of color to show calls-of-action and highlight important elements. The result was uncluttered, allowing users to sort through massive amounts of information without being distracted.
I developed our user testing script and was responsible for conducting one-third of our usability tests.
Users liked the uncluttered design and minimal use of big graphics because it let them focus on the content. They appreciated the large "OK" buttons because confirmation of their actions was reassuring for them. They also said the app felt very personal and considerate because it informed them when they had a scheduling conflict and gave them so much control over the map location tracking feature, which they found incredibly useful.
Testing also showed areas for improvement. Users felt that the Groups section was inconveniently located inside the Contacts section. Mosts users could not find that section during testing. Ones that found it said it was hard to locate and it took them too many tries. In future iterations, I would move that section to the main navigation to avoid confusion.