Oftentimes, those traveling for business purposes engage in too much small talk with others that doesn’t convert into meaningful professional connections. Over time, this leads to an immeasurable amount of missed opportunities with professionals in the same industry. Connecting with the right person can lead to increased success in your chosen industry and be the relationship that plants the seeds of success for a company.
I reviewed notes from the interviews I conducted and grouped together similar information participants shared with me into themes using Post-it Notes. I noticed a lot of common frustrations related to networking with people at conferences. This exercise made it clearer as to what I should be focusing on for my design: how to make the process of networking at conferences better.
I analyzed the data I collected from my participant interviews and created an empathy map. This helped me gain a better understanding of the user’s pain points, goals, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
In an effort to identify the key audience I’m designing this product for, I created personas. Referring back to these personas was an essential step when deciding whether design decisions aligned with the user type.
I reached out to five of my user survey participants and conducted semi-structured interviews. I chose to interview a mixture of men and women who:
Travel 6+ times each year for work
Frequently travel to attend conferences
Find making connections while on a business trip highly important
Research & Problem Definition
Designing & Ideating Solutions
Creating user stories served as the building foundation of my design. Since the stories described user needs and goals, I consistently referenced them throughout my design process to make sure every design decision was user-centered.
As a frequent business traveler, I want to know what types of professionals are staying at the same hotel or dining at the same restaurants as me when I'm traveling to various cities, so that I don't miss out on making mutually beneficial connections with those in the same industry as me.
As someone who travels frequently for work, I want an automatic way to schedule last minute meetups at business friendly restaurants or coffee shops - less time should be spent researching and re-arranging schedules to accomodate.
As a frequent business traveler, I want to make more valuable connections with like-minded people in less time, so that new connections are more effectively turned into clients.
As a frequent conference attendee, I want to understand what types of professionals will be attending the same conference as me and what they offer. This will help me initiate a connection prior to traveling to the conference.
As a frequent conference attendee, I want a way to keep track of which particular conference I made each new connection and what their professional background is.
As a frequent conference attendee, I want to know who else will be attending in advance, so that I spend less time researching and sold emailing people prior.
To create a better visual representation of how my user interface will look, I transformed my rough sketches into digital wireframes. Creating these low fidelity wireframes helped me realize what elements needed to be revisited, what design decisions were causing a poor user experience, and what pages needed to be redesigned.
Usability Testing Plan
The focus of testing my high fidelity wireframes was to see the strengths and faults of the functionality of my initial design.
Is the mission of the product easily identifiable when interacting with its pages?
Do users easily understand the purpose of this product?
Are users able to confidently navigate the different screens?
What are the strengths of the current design and what still needs improvement?
Do people understand how to add their events? And do they appreciate the additional layer of security the access code is intended to provide?
Sign up for the service
Find out more about an event you’re attending soon
Find out more information about other attendees of the events you’re attending
Arrange a time to meet with another attendee
Is there any information you find to be missing?
Are there any concerns or pain points you came across?
Issues Users Encountered
No “add new event” cta for existing users
“Continue with Google” sign up option should have led to a create profile section instead of the homepage
Equally space out icons in the bottom navigation menu
Design of the specific event information page (UXPA International) is confusing - due to the difference in size of the CTA and color, there is too much visual emphasis on attendees and sponsors
Aside from the above mentioned issues, some users felt that the color palette reminded them of medical office apps and suggested the use of different accent colors to increase the sophistication and intrigue of the design. In light of that, keeping the brand feel I was striving for in mind, I experimented with different colors and landed on the below revised palette.
The power of we is infinity.
High Fidelity Mockups
Using the visual style I defined in my style guide, I created high fidelity mockups. I then built a clickable prototype that integrated transitions and conducted five moderated usability tests.
Reflection & Next Steps
Creating Synergy taught me the importance of user research and testing. Although I completed my initial high fidelity screens with much confidence, there were many problematic aspects to many of the UI and UX decisions I made. The participants of my usability tests played an invaluable role in uncovering the weaknesses of my design and helped me realize the importance of keeping user satisfaction in mind every step of the process.
I am happy with how my final designs turned out, but there are many elements of the design that I’d like to revisit in the future. First, I chose to design a product that would help lessen the amount of missed networking opportunities at professional events. Since there’s no way to measure missed opportunities, this made the research portion of my design to be much less impactful than I hoped. Additionally, half way through my design, I started to realize how many solutions similar to mine currently exist for those who attend conferences and other professional events annually. This made it difficult to find a way to differentiate my design and show the value to users.
Second, this project helped me realize the importance of having a clean, simple UI. Everything that is included in the design should serve a purpose and should help the user achieve a goal. Therefore, consistently referencing the personas and user stories when designing are essential steps for ensuring user satisfaction. Moreover, it is my responsibility as a designer to provide the simplest and most enjoyable process for a user to complete a task, and the UI style guide I choose strongly influences that.
For future designs, I plan on putting more emphasis on the empathize and define steps of the design process. Spending more time understanding the pain points of the users and the type of solution they yearn for will make identifying the problem and constructing a strong solution much easier. This will also help my product standout from competitors and not just be another loosely thought out solution with potentially problematic shortcomings.
My Role • Solo UX/UI Designer, course design project
Duration • January - March 2022
Responsibilities • Ideation, user research & analysis, persona creation, sketching & wireframing, prototyping, usability testing
Tools • Figma, Miro, Marvel
Less Missed Opportunities
Synergy is a networking app designed for business travelers to more efficiently connect with like-minded people when attending industry-specific professional events like conferences and trade shows. Synergy was built with the belief that when people combine their years of experience, knowledge, professional connections, and goals together, they have the immeasurable power to help each other and companies reach new levels of success. When there is synergy between two people and not competition, this creates a powerful mutually beneficial connection that can lead to many more opportunities and possibilities for exponential growth.
Making valuable professional connections while attending an industry specific event can be an uncomfortable, exhausting, and frustrating experience.
How might we make it easier to identify who of those attending an upcoming conference would one like to spend the most time connecting with?
How might we share what we offer with other attendants prior to the conference?
How might we make it easier for like-minded professionals to connect prior to attending large industry conferences?
To improve and accelerate the experience of developing valuable, mutually beneficial connections when attending professional events.
I conducted a user survey to test my hypothesis. I shared my survey on multiple platforms online and twenty professionals from various industries completed it.
55% of participants travel 1-5 times for work annually
40% of participants’ work travel consists of meeting with existing clients, meeting with prospective clients, attending conferences, and/or attending internal meetings with team members
45% of participants ranked making new professional connections when traveling for work a 9 (highly important)
To better understand the essential paths users will follow when interacting with my design, I used various symbols to create a visual representation of the three main user flows. This helped me brainstorm how to best design pages that allow users to achieve their goals in an efficient, enjoyable manner.
After developing a strong understanding of the problem at hand and my users, I started brainstorming solutions that could potentially solve my how might we statements. I made my ideas tangible by sketching mobile designs and getting initial feedback by creating an interactive paper prototype of my design using the Marvel app.
Learnings from Guerrilla Usability Testing
A couple of the testers mentioned that there are similar conference apps that they’ve used in the past. However, the ones they interacted with were conference specific and didn’t allow them to add multiple conferences on one app. They found the “break the ice” and “schedule meetup” aspects of my design to be valuable. Since many of the testers mentioned that finding mutually interesting things to talk about with another attendee is often difficult and they have had too many bland, ineffective conversations in the past, having something that generates meaningful topics to discuss and questions to ask based on similarities in profile information is useful.
The test participants noticed that unlike the other tabs (meetups, connections, notifications), the events page did not have a back arrow to lead users to the previous page they were viewing. Instead, it just had a bottom navigation bar, which led to an inconsistent, messy user experience.
Examining users interact with my sketches revealed the strengths and weakness of my design. For example, there were several screens I had created that were missing a bottom navigation bar to give users the option of returning to a different page, or didn't offer a back arrow to return to a previous page. When I had designed those particular screens, I didn't realize these shortcomings. It was only when I was examining people interacting with my design that I noticed that they were stuck at certain sections of the app. Based on my observations, I added or deleted certain arrows or icons to make the interaction more seamless.
When I’m going somewhere new for a conference, I have no idea what it’s going to be like or who else will be attending."
I primarily travel for conferences and events. It's usually a disparate process - I have to book travel, find restaurants and see who is going to be at a conference in different places. It doesn’t feel as seamless as it should.”
I can’t tell you how many LinkedIn messages I’ve sent to my contacts that said “are you going to be at X conference? If so, it would be great to meet up.” It would be great to know who was going to be at the conference and connect beforehand.”
Usability Testing, Round 2
In this second round, I maintained the same objective questions and test tasks. During this evaluation, I aimed to determine if the adjustments I made would improve task performance and overall user satisfaction.
I was pleased to hear that users found this updated design both sophisticated and playful in a professional way. Below is the final feedback I compiled:
Consider making the text of "Key Talking Points" and "Networking Questions" larger
"Attendees" and "My Meetups" pages feel busy due to the use of closely spaced rectangles of information
Revised High Fidelity Mockups
In addition to updating the high fidelity mockups to reflect my changes to the color palette, I also tweaked the layout and design of the specific event information page, attendee profile, and "break the ice" pages. Lastly, I addressed the CTA and icon issues users encountered to improve the interaction experience.
The power of we is infinity.