SEGD Conference Guide

SEGD Conference 2015
Mobile Conference Guide

Product Design

Professional conferences attract hundreds of thousands of attendees worldwide every year. They are complex events where lectures, workshops, receptions, and tours are all vying for attendees’ participation. On top of this complicated schedule of events, attendees are often in a new city, trying to deal with transportation, and trying to network with other professionals. For the 2015 SEGD Conference in Chicago, a Mobile Conference Guide was created to enhance the attendee experience by unifying and clarifying all conference information.

In previous years, SEGD attempted to develop native mobile applications for their events, but low adoption rates caused them to abandon the idea of these products for future conferences. Initial interviews helped determine that many users didn't see enough potential value in downloading a native app for an event that only lasted a couple days. From there, the first problem was clarified. How do you put all your event information in the hands of attendees, without the barrier to entry of downloading an app?

After further research and conversations with users, I was able to identify the top three needs of a typical conference attendee, which focused the design:

Accessing conference information quickly and easily
Improving the attendee's visit to that city
Helping the attendee find & connect with other attendees

This focus helped solve the problem proposed earlier. To lower the barrier to entry for users, while still fulfilling these needs, the best way to access the product would be in a mobile browser via a short, memorable url.

Prototypes were built early and tested often to get critical user feedback and identify design problems.

View this prototype live on Marvel.

Product & Results
The Mobile Conference Guide was announced in the kick-off session by the conference chairs and was an immediate success, with attendees pulling up the guide quickly, and returning to it repeatedly throughout the conference. The response from attendees and organizers was overwhelmingly positive. Many praised how the content they needed was so easily accessible, interacting with the product was very natural, and overall the product felt lightweight, yet robust.

At one point I was talking to an attendee who was using the Mobile Guide and simply asked him what he thought of it. Without knowing I was involved, his brief and candid response was my favorite comment of the conference.

"This is great, I'm surprised they were able to pull this off."