Do’s and Don’ts of Building a Great Conference App

These days, if you want to communicate information effectively you have to make it available at your audience’s fingertips– that is, via their mobile devices. In the days of instant updates, personalization, and news feeds, the printed program is too static to meet the evolving needs of conference organizers and delegates. The general population has moved away from paper towards technology, and there is no reason why this shouldn’t be true in the conference environment as well.

In comes the conference app to the rescue! The conference app has everything that a printed program has: conference schedule, sponsor/exhibitor listing, speaker listing, abstracts, session descriptions, etc. In addition, it offers personalized schedules, interactive venue maps, game centers, and in-app messaging opportunities that allow your delegates to engage with the various activities taking place at your event, as well as network with the other delegates in attendance.

Though conference apps come pre-populated with a number of great features, the final product is only as good as the effort that the organizer puts in to it. There are a few simple tips to help you create a great conference app but the most important thing to keep in mind is to give yourself enough time to do a thorough job. If you want to create a great app you have to accept that this will be a time consuming and intensive task.

Other do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when building your app are:

DO:

  • Maximize your content – Incorporate all of the information that would be included in your printed program; if your app is meant to replace your printed program, it needs to include the same content.
  • Exploit all app features – Ensure there is something for everyone by making use of all of the available app features.
  • Drive networking – Networking is a primary reason for attending a conference; give your delegates the tools to connect.
  • Provide technical support – Don’t assume everyone will intuitively know how to use your app; provide support to those that need it or they may give up. Ensure on-site staff is trained and can provide support to any delegate who seeks it.
  • Social networking is key – Ensure your app has the functionality to connect with various social networking platforms and include your meeting’s hash tag.
  • Engagement through interaction – Use surveys and quizzes to get instant feedback from your audience; If your app has it, use the question and answer feature to allow your speakers to engage their audience.
  • Involve your sponsors/exhibitors – Use the gamification functionality to add a bit of fun to your meeting and drive interaction between your delegates and sponsors/exhibitors.
  • Test your app in advance of launching it – You want your app to be as perfect as possible before it goes live, so take the time to have your team test it and ensure the content is accurate in advance.
  • Promote, promote, promote! Promote the app in advance of your conference AND during your conference to maximize the total number of users and encourage them to use the various functions.

DON’T:

  • Link to content on an external site – Include as much content as possible WITHIN the app.
  • Miss the analytics – This will provide you with important information about how your delegates used your app and how to improve it in the future.
  • Overuse your push notifications – Sending too many notifications will encourage your delegates to turn off their notifications or even delete the app.
  • Give yourself too little time to do a thorough job – As already mentioned; building a good quality app is time consuming. Make sure you give yourself ample time to do a good job.

Submitted by Samantha Wale, Paul Fogerty, Paul Kool, and Ernest Ho, Malachite Innovation and Trends Committee