Are you going to organize a conference and are you thinking about having your own mobile application?
If yes maybe you need some tips on how to design it.
There are some applications you can play with and that help you with building your own application. There are others that transform your event website in an application. But this is not what we are going to talk about here.
I believe that everyone should do his job and there are very good companies and professionals who develop applications for the meeting industry. It’s also very easy to reach them.
Depending on your budget and your event requirements I suggest you to write down all your needs and ideas in order to prepare a good request for proposal.
This article aims to help you with just that: so let’s focus on it.
First thing that we need to take into account is what we want to achieve with the application.
Usually, conceiving an app, one of the issues that you have to face is how to combine the usefulness of the apps for both, yourself and your clients (with “clients” I mean participants, exhibitors, sponsors and any other stakeholders).
Another aspect is related to the time.
How much time before the conference you’ll be able to make the application available in the stores of the different smartphones platforms or on your website?
The time has an impact on the choice of the services you decide to provide throughout the application, especially if you are going to use it to promote your sponsors or to collect registrations.
Of course you need to take care of the coordination of the graphic layout of the app with the logo, the website and all the other publications of the conference (brochures, programs, posters and so on).
Furthermore the website of the conference should be well structured and ready with all the landing pages needed and with all the services and information that will be linked to the application.
Well it’s time to see together what may be the contents and the features to include in your application:
- General and specific information (about the “reason why” of the conference, the program, the speakers and all the social activities)
- Personal agenda (the user should be able to add items from the program but also to add his/her personal appointments in the calendar)
- Maps and floor plans (of the venue but also of the geographical area – linked with the touristic information)
- Documents to be read or downloaded (daily news, slides, abstracts, guides and other useful sources, links)
- Registration form (same form of the website and connected with it)
- Social network sharing (users should be able to tweet and publish posts with their own accounts directly from the app with the hashtags pre-filled, upload/download pictures and videos…) and real-time tweets, photos, videos and more from hashtags should be reachable in one place
- In case of Hybrid Events – possibility to attend/connect with the on-line component (live or streamed) from the app. This section should be protected with a password, if a registration fee will be required for the on-line component.
- Networking tools – connected with the information collected with the registration form, this section should allow profiles building and matching (based on interests). Any other tool that allows interaction among live and virtual attendees and the organization’s team. Join the Community
- Q&A in real time with the organizers (or a channel dedicated to the needs of live and virtual attendees in order to fix problems with AV or heating or any other)
- Surveys and polls (related to sessions but also in general on the conference itself)
- Sponsor showcase – information on the products, showing the logo and or other photos, reporting the contact details to be dialed directly from the smartphone (or a live chat with the exhibitors?)
- System to check-in participants attending the sessions
- Games and awards (QR code reader?)
- Touristic information (country, city and venue)
- Help and guide how to use the app
Of course this list is not exhaustive, it contains only some example of items you can choose from.
Don’t forget to ask for:
- An app that can be used (and works well) offline, if and when users are without internet connection – (you can ask to set up an alert that advises users to download updates when they are under a Wi-Fi in order to be available offline if needed)
- Must be available and work well in all the platforms (iPhone, blackberry, android etc.)
- There must be no exclusion for categories of attendees (I saw apps where some services were available only for hosted buyers)
- Must be a free app
- Not too heavy and easily downloadable from website and from all the mobile phone stores
- Updatable without difficulty or effort by you and/or your team (you know better than me how many last minute changes happen while organizing a conference!)
- Push notification and alerts available
- Reporting on usage
What about considering having a continuous app? No need to download a new one next year, you can use it all year long, and it could be updated monthly (same updates of your website). This allows attendees to continue interacting, to be part of the community and to receive periodic updates.
The last two considerations:
An app will help you, your conference and your community to be environmentally friendly and when you will launch the communication of the publication of your app don’t forget to be clear about what are the benefits in downloading it.
Is this something useful for your conference?
Contact me if you need professional advice or if you are going to organize sessions on these topics.