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TEDxUofW conference product

In fall 2018, I became the UI/UX designer in University of Washington's TEDx conference team. Within 5 month, I created a product that enhances guest conference experience.

8 min read: detailed work process involved

DATE  
November 2018 - March 2019

ROLE
User researcher
Product analyst
Interaction/Visual designer

WITH  
Soham Pardeshi - Backend developer
Andrey Butenko - Frontend developer
Jenny Liang - Manager, Developer

CHALLENGE

How might we use technology to improve conference experiences?

For the past 7 years, TEDxUofW has been hosting an annual 300 attendee TEDx conference at University of Washington Seattle. This year, the web team is surveying how might technology contribute to deliver a better TEDx experience.

Research

Internal team Interview

The tech team alone won't be able to create a holistic experience. I kicked off the project with a 15 min interview session with every other internal divisions. We talked to different team about their goals for this year and found three major areas to improve on

•  Stay in the budget range, then try to make the conference more affordable if we could
•  Increasing overall conference awareness
•  Helping speakers deliver their ideas and helping attendants better understand their ideas

User Research

At the same time, I surveyed past conference attendees on their experiences and pain points. The overall conference experience is satisfying, yet our attendees complained about the ticket price being too high and sold out. Many people also can't make whole day commitment for the conference and decided not to come. Lastly, attendants loved that in previous year the planning team created a platform where students and interact with speakers. These could again be something we can iterate on to improve the experience

Question framing

From what we've heard, conference pricing/finance troubles both the planning team and the attendants. The planning team had been marketing the conference in different channels to raise conference awareness, yet many people have trouble committing to the whole day schedule. Solving the commitment and ticket price problem can help more people participate in the conference and create value for both the planning team and the attendants. Based on our findings, I chose participation as our product's direction and framed a how might question

How might we help more people join the TEDxUofW conference in a memorable way?

Solve

Feature Planning

I had two directions to encourage more people to join the conference: first we can try to lower the ticket price by saving money on existing planning infrastructure. The planning team had been using third-party services to sell tickets. Creating our own ticketing system and using Stripe to process payment can reduce the planning budget considerably and help us lower the ticket price.

Ticketing

Build our own ticketing system where attendants can purchase tickets with their TEDx account

Value for the team

The team saves money on ticketing services and keeps the conference in budget

Value for users

Our audience will have lower ticket prices and lower financial barrier to join the conference

Secondly, for those who can't get tickets or have time for the commitment, we can help them join the conference through online streaming. Streaming will help spreading the awareness of TEDx conference and encourage more people to come next year.

Streaming

Stream the conference online to let users experience the conference in alternative way

Value for the team

Streaming can spread awareness of the conference.

Value for Users

People having time and finances constraints can watch the conference online

Finally, we also want to build on what's proven to be successful from last year and create a platform where attendants can talk with the speakers. This feature will help speakers illustrate their idea better through answering questions and enable attendees to respond to the talks they have heard.

Conversation

Create a platform for people to talk with and ask speaker questions.

Value for the team

The team can deliver better guest experience outside of the talks.

Value for users

Users can interact with the speakers and make their conference experience more memorable

Ticketing

Built-in ticketing system to lower conference budget and ticket price

Value for the team

The team will have lower spends on ticketing services and keep conference planning in budget

Value for users

Our audience will have lower ticket prices and lower barrier to join the conference

Streaming

Allow users to participate in the conference in alternative way

Value for the team

The team wants to spreading awareness of the conference.

Value for Users

People who don't have time and finances to join in person can watch the conference online

Conversation

Platform for people to talk with and ask speaker questions.

Value for the team

The team wants to give better guest experience outside of the talks.

Value for users

Both online and offline users can interact with the speakers and make their conference experience more memorable

To solve this problem, I had two directions to encourage more people to join the conference: we can first try to lower the ticket price by saving money on existing planning infrastructure. The planning team had been using 3rd party services to sell tickets. Creating our own ticketing system and use Stripe to process payment can reduce the planning budget considerably and help us lower the ticket price.



Finally, we also want to build on what's proven to be successful from last year and create a platform where attendants can talk with the speakers. This feature will help speakers illustrate their idea better through answering questions and make ideas sharing go both ways.

It should be a web app

Instead of diving in to build another mobile app, I believed a web app is better in our context because it allows us to
Lower access barrier since web apps doesn't need to be downloaded and can be used across device
• Streamline the experience by providing entry point on our website to the ticketing and streaming page in the web app
• Build an infrastructure that future teams can iterate on

We planned to setup different entry point on the website that takes users to different features of the web app and streamline the onboarding experience.

Requirement + IA + visual guide

I created the requirements and user flow for each features in the web app. Since our branding will be used across three teams (PR, design, and web), I also created a styleguide to help shape consistency in our visual language.

Design

Dashboard

Tp streamline the on-boarding process, I used a less disruptive modal design for sign-in so that when users clicked something and did not expect to be asked to sign in, they can just click away and continue reading the content. Once onboard, users may explore the conference via the quick access section on the right panel or customize their profile.

I positioned the dashboard to achieve two goals: provide information and promote actions. Each section on the dashboard promote and guide users to engage in new action. For example, the speaker sections recommend speakers and reasons why users should care about them.

Ticketing

I saw ticketing as the start and a critical touch point of the conference experience. Compared with standard, more linear ticketing flow, I wanted to make ticketing more memorable, delightful, and simple. I created a skeuomorphic ticket design that responds to attendees' entered information and gradually evolves from a blank ticket to attendees' passes to the conference. To simplify ticketing, I also added a group ticket option to reduce the amount of information attendees need to fill.

Streaming + conversation

The streaming page's major audience are those who watch at home or work. These people might not be able to stay in the page for the entire conference. To help them quickly catch up with the conference progress, I created the current talk's information and the conference schedule section and put them at findable positions on the screen.

Additionally, I added a section that encourages attendees to talk to speakers below the streaming screen. By providing entry point and high exposure to the conversation features, I planned to build a growth ecosystem where attendants who watch online can engage with the community and share their experience with others to promote growth for the organization.

Responsive design

For users at the conference wanting to ask questions, I designed the dashboard in a responsive layout. The mobile versions has all content and functions as the desktop one and is also styled consistently.

Reflections

Some insights I reflected from this project:

Walk through your design decisions with different people:
When getting feedback on design decisions, the design team is not the only place for insight. Every time I show the development team what I have, I get valuable suggestions from a less familiar point of view. This has helped me greatly in improving the product's usability and catching blind point use cases.

Iterate and design with content:
Figuring out the right web grid at the beginning of the project felt almost impossible, but much doable as I put more contents in and add more components in the layouts. Even for low-fi prototypes, getting the content early will be helpful to the see design holistically.

research

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