Upvote is an online platform concept that lets conference attendees vote on speakers and topics they find interesting and where they ask questions. But it is also a platform that helps conference organisers stay in touch with their target audience, helps them measure topic popularity and spot possible schedule conflicts early on.
Defining the problem
Conferences and recurring events with speakers are constantly looking for speakers who can inspire, motivate and capture the attention of their audience. It’s basic math when I say that the more interesting the speaker or the topic of the talk, the more people you’ll attract to your event, unless it’s something very niche.
How can an event organiser stay well-aligned with the interests of future attendees? An organiser might want to get in touch with their public to learn about those interests.
Used techniques: user survey, user interview, personas
I conducted a survey to gain user insights, some market insights and learn about possible sub-problems. The survey contained a section for event organisers and a section targeted at people who attend these events. After this I interviewed one of the survey participants to ask some additional questions that were prompted by some of the answers in the survey.
With the information gathered from the survey & interview I created personas, each with their own scenario, frustrations and goals to focus on. This helped me to come up with solutions regarding design decisions, structure and key functionalities.
Value proposition canvas & Business canvas model
Some of my classes also covered business and marketing aspects, so it was also a part of the requirements of this thesis project to provide both a value proposition canvas and a business canvas model. These documents are yet another way to help me understand my customers/users and are based on the personas.
Defining the structure
Used techniques: flowcharts & cardsorting
After the initial research phase I moved over to defining the structure of my platform. I wrote user stories and used a card sorting technique to figure out how to group them. This made it easier to create flowcharts that map out the steps users will have to take to reach certain goals.
Used techniques: paper wireframes, high fidelity mockups, visual design
In the design phase my visual exploration of possible solutions, layouts and functionalities started. At first by just sketching ideas on paper and later high fidelity mockups in Sketch.
High fidelity mockups
After a few iterations of sketching and deciding on the basics of a visual style, I felt confident to proceed to the hi-fi mockups. I used Sketch to design the necessary screens and bits so that I could convert it into a prototype for user testing.
In order to be able to provide the user with a more realistic feel during user testing, I added small details. Details such as empty states, hover & active states, partially-working dropdowns,… and with these elements I built my prototype for user testing in Invision.
Used techniques: observation/interview-based user testing
I used a combination of interview and observation to do the user testing, by thinking of some “main” tasks the user should perform. And after each main task I would take a moment to ask some questions regarding the task they just finished.
The benefits of user testing
User testing helped me reiterate though the hi-fi mockups and make various improvements. To name a few: I made copy changes in the onboarding, searched for better icons, made visual hiearchy adjustments, color changes here and there,… User testing also provided me with the information I needed to create a customer journey map. Which in turn helped me make more improvements.
Final takeaways & lessons learned
While I only showed a part of my research and work in this case, it should suffice to say that it was quite a handful to bring all the different parts together. There's a part of the platform that is only for organisers and their team and then there's the part for the regular users (aka the conference attendants), both sides with their own focus, frustrations and so on…
Since I had to perform all of it as a one (wo)man team I felt that I could've used more time on the admin/organiser part of the platform. More time to do research, and reiterate through the entire process. But the endgoal for this thesis project was met and I am very pleased about that.
I definitely found it challenging to come up with the visual representations for the data on the dashboard (part of the admin/organiser platform). But also asking the right questions, was something I had to get into. So I improved and expanded my initial survey along the way. Simply because some of the answers intrigued me and made me think of new questions that could be valuable. This is definitely something that comes more naturally when you interview someone in person.
I also realised that there's always something new to learn, from the user research
and user testing, and that it's always good to have a fresh pair of eyes to help you find some pain points.
But it's also interesting to learn from other people's perspectives and opinions,
even if you don't agree with them.
Thanks for reading!