Dave Lutz, CMP
Stay in the UX
Game developer Kathy Sierra
cautions about “The Featuritis
Curve” and the temptation to
move beyond the “happy-user
peak.” She created a graph with
“user happiness” on the vertical
axis and “number of features” on
the horizontal — pointing to the
fact that the more features and
complexity added to a product
(or experience), the more disenchanted the user (attendee)
becomes. (Take a look at convn
.org/feat-curve.) If your conference has a surfeit of education
sessions, you’ve likely moved
well beyond the happy-user peak.
ON THE WEB
Experience architects flock
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Improving attendee experiences is a top priority, but many are tackling it backwards. They’re approaching
it from the inside out, with the experience as an afterthought. Typically, a
conference continuous improvement
map looks something like this: Systems
& Resources • Procedures • Touch-points • Interactions • Experiences.
UXD experts suggest you flip this
order and start with Experiences first.
Then work your way backward, dealing
with Systems & Resources last. One
caveat: It’s not about the attendee
experiences you desire. The attendee
perspective and perception must be the
Effective UXD is built on customer
empathy. In the conference journey,
attendees move through a series
of emotions. There are highs (best
moments), lows (worst moments), and
plenty of feelings that fall between the
two extremes. Research shows that
attendees remember the peak experiences (best and worst) most of all.
While most conference planners are focused on making the best
moments better, what about those worst
moments? Even participants at wildly
successful conferences encounter a few,
including travel challenges, standing
in long lines, keeping devices charged,
accessing reliable Wi-Fi, and hunger,
exhaustion, and uncertainty as they navigate new terrain. While it’s impossible
to remove every attendee worst moment,
there are smart ways to smooth things
over and to ease their pain.
Here are three things to keep in
mind before and during the event:
REDUCE COMPLEXITY Attendees
appreciate fast and easy, yet many
conferences are rife with complexity. You need to remove the hurdles.
Do you have too many required fields
in the registration process? Is your
schedule-at-a-glance riddled with
committee-meeting listings? Are concurrent sessions organized by track so
attendees can easily move from room
to room? Does your mobile app allow
quick access to what’s on now and
what’s coming up next?
MAKE IT TIMELY Often, there’s a
soup-to-nuts list of links and resources
in the app and on the event microsite.
But attendees are on the run with little
patience or time to sort through the
clutter. You can help them by teeing
up timely assistance in small bites
that align with where they are on their
conference journey. On Day 1, it’s about
welcoming and helping them get acclimated. On Day 2, the priority might be
optimizing learning and networking
experiences. On Day 3, you might provide tips on how they can apply their
learning back in the workplace.
RESPOND QUICKLY There will always
be last-minute snags: a quick room
change, a weather issue, or a long line
suddenly forming at one of the buffet
tables. Deploy staff and volunteers who
can keep their eyes peeled for these
trouble spots and can provide ideas for
improving the situation. .
Dave Lutz, CMP, is managing director of Velvet
Chainsaw Consulting, velvetchainsaw.com.
UXD at Meetings
User Experience Design (UXD) is expanding beyond tech
circles, as more companies embrace these principles to improve
customer satisfaction and loyalty. How might this apply to