Freelancing – Conferences

Role: Complete Product Design and Development

Goal: Design, Develop and Deploy a Virtual Venue for a Science Conferences, restricted by the pandemic.

“We’re very satisfied with Vítor’s service in providing not only a complete platform to host our conference, but also in collaborating on several aspects of administrative processes and graphical design.”

Sérgio Faria, PhD – IT Leiria – CONFTELE2021

csndsp2020.av.it.pt/

“Vitor was very flexible with every request and was able to deploy a complete platform on a very short notice. This allowed for a very successful transition of the conference to a virtual venue and I think I can say that all participants were very satisfied with the experience.”

Luís Nero, PhD – IT Aveiro – CSNDSP2020

csndsp2020.av.it.pt/

Intro

In 2020, when I took on these freelance projects for two IEEE backed scientific conferences that needed to go virtual, there was no existing, ideal solution that matched their specific needs. A big challenge was the presentation of papers by authors and participants in different time-zones, that video-conferencing solutions were not solving yet. This asynchronicity was a pain point for conference participants, who are used to visiting a (usually, new) country in order to attend the event.

I designed and developed the whole platform for each conference, integrated it with external services (like registration, video and document uploads, video hosting and video-conferencing) and helped the organizers in adapting the event to an online format- a fairly new affair. I also handled all event related e-mail communications to the users to maintain consistency as well as creation and distribution of participant certificates.

User Research

This is a live event and many users will be in distant time zones, from Brazil to China

Many professors and researchers expect a conference with a strict schedule.

Presenting authors need to participate in a Q&A, as required by IEEE.

Users might skip remote sessions that do not concern them.

Conferences participants are accustomed to visiting the city where the conference is held.

Difficult to create a sense of community when a group of people are not in the same room together.

Brainstorming

Using Miro to group technical and functional requirements and restrains allowed to reduce complexity into a tangible structure.

Most relevant conclusions

Insights

  1. The events need to happen in a short part of the day and with some asynchronous activity to accommodate all time zones.
  2. Session times must have time zone sensitive display.
  3. Features to promote a sense of community are required.

Resolutions

  1. Technical sessions will have pre-recorded paper presentations and asynchronous Q&A in a specific but large time frame.
  2. A custom JavaScript module will be developed.
  3. A networking space will be created with access to all users, a free discussion forum, and a map where countries with participants are highlighted

User Journey

At each step the relevant and available information should not overwhelm the user, but effectively guide and provide them a better control of their experience.

user journey with 5 stages

Design

Predicted user pains and project constraints informed the design of UI elements to give the user a sense of control, or a feeling of belonging to the scientific community.

CONFTELE2021 – Program page
CONFTELE2021 – Paper’s page
CONFTELE2021 – Paper’s Discussion
CONFTELE2021 – Networking Space