Glisser is an app that aims, as their mission statement suggests: “to improve the exchange of information when people come together”. It is a suite of interactive presentation platforms which allow questions and answers between the presenter and the audience, live polling, and slide sharing.
Glisser are a highly ambitious, quickly growing, Microsoft-backed startup with offices in London, New York and Portland, and a QA team in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
I was the sole designer on the project, working with a full-stack developer to build the platform. For wire-frames and the prototype I used Abode XD. We built the proof of concept using a WordPress multi-site installation with Materialize CSS. The LIVE pages were built as a custom-post type.
Whilst Glisser improves the exchange of information when people come together, what about when you can’t make it to the event? Event live streaming is more popular now than it’s ever been, but you still feel disconnected from the presentation.
I was looking to find a way of engaging fully remote and hybrid audiences to the presentation, allowing them to contribute to the discussion as though they were in the room.
Over a period of nine months I attended live-streamed events across London, and sat with the AV technicians to learn exactly how event live streaming works. I started to experiment with live streaming myself, I bought the equipment I’d need and shot a few low-profile events for clients to find out all of the complications of the job. I also looked into how live streamed events were being marketed, shared, and what platforms were being used to stream on, and the pros and cons of each.
Overcoming the Problem
Platforms such as YouTube, Facebook Live, and LiveStream by Vimeo were using comments during streams really well. The web layout for watching streamed presentations (such as webinars, product launches etc.) was starting to become standardised, which is great because it means user onboarding and acceptance becomes a lot easier and more instinctive.
What these platforms were missing however, was the direct interaction with the presenter and the rest of the audience.
I worked Glisser’s interactive features around the now standardised, familiar streaming layout, with the presenter Q&A replacing where you might typically find the comments. Time-sensitive, intrusive features such as polls would overlay the stream, prompting the participant to answer promptly.
I worked with a developer to build this idea out in a WordPress site as a proof of concept. Each presentation/stream would be a ‘page’ linking the presentation ID with the embedded live stream link from an external streaming provider. The page would call the Glisser API to load personalisation options for each presentation, such as: colour scheme, company logo, holding slide etc. This meant that with just a handful of settings you could create your own event live stream webpage.
Whilst the proof of concept was never meant to see the light of day, it was so effortless to use in testing that we trialed it a number of live events in London where I went on-site. A potentially critical issue which was picked up in live testing was that attendees accessing the presentation early wouldn’t see any last-minute changes made by the presenter. We looked at how we could refresh audience devices but without an attendee login it would mean losing any notes and questions made so far. This led us to instead implement a ‘coming soon’ holding screen before the presentation started, allowing the presenter to make any last minute changes until the presentation start time.
The development team then built the streaming functionality into the Glisser platform, meaning that our on-site support team and clients were able to switch their audience view to include a stream in their presentation setup options.
The Final Outcome
The Glisser LIVE platform landed Glisser’s largest ever deal, and has been used to host events worldwide, including a number of TEDx talks. Glisser LIVE was featured in the event trade press as being a breakthrough in making streamed events more interactive and accessible. In November 2018, Glisser LIVE won ‘Best Hybrid Event Live Streaming Solution’ at the Event Tech Awards.
2020 Update: During the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, where almost all live events globally were cancelled, Glisser LIVE became crucial to Glisser’s customers who had to switch to live streamed events. Glisser as a company shifted their entire model around their streaming solution and have now even developed their own hosting for streams - no longer having to rely on YouTube, Vimeo etc. And in 2021 Glisser LIVE won ‘Best Virtual & Hybrid Event Platform’ from the Virtual Events Institute.
Can I just say, that this is the sexiest audience engagement solution for live events. Simon, you’re one of the most talented Product Designers I know. Big kudos to someone who puts so much love and passion into their work.
CEO at The Event Tech Tribe