What if instead of just watching a presentation, you could actually take part in it – shape it, change it, get feedback?
I’ve created a number of products at Glisser, one being an Interactive Presentation Management System which allows a presenter to create interactive presentations – but how would the audience actually interact? There are some basic polling tools where attendees are each given a device with four buttons to vote in polls throughout – this is how voting works on TV shows. These hired devices put a high cost on the event though, yet they’re so limited. Instead, Glisser is a web-app that uses your smartphone.
Glisser had a basic app which loads the slides in real-time, allows the user to post questions, and to vote in polls, but they were struggling on engagement rates. They were looking to improve and modernise the user experience to improve this.
The Team and Our Tools
As the Head of Design at Glisser, the complete design lifecycle was my responsibility, from gathering requirements directly from clients, to helping with front-end testing. I worked as the sole designer in a team of five developers, as well as a testing team in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Without a Product Manager I was also expected to take on responsibility for documentation.
For wireframing and prototyping I used Sketch and Adobe XD. The app was built using Node.js with Web Sockets for the backend, Angular 6 with TypeScript, SCSS, and Bootstrap 4 for the frontend.
The Glisser team at the Microsoft Accelerator in London
The Discovery Phase
I started to analyse the existing, basic platform and began to draw my own feedback. But before actioning anything I wanted to understand what real users thought. I started to attend various events where Glisser was being used, and I used the app just as any other audience member.
I spoke to audience members after each presentation to understand firstly whether or not they used the Glisser app, and if not, why not. And for those that did I wanted to understand what they did and didn’t like about the experience.
The most important thing learned was that users were reluctant to download a disposable app from the App Store just for a single event. Whilst venues do usually offer free wi-fi, it’s rarely reliable, straightforward to connect, and fast enough to quickly download apps (sometimes downloading apps is even blocked).
Some other interesting feedback I received was that whilst the original platform worked well, it’s not always clear how to use everything on it. The learning curve to using the platform had sometimes got in the way of using it to its full potential. This meant that the redesign had to feel more intuitive, natural, and easy to pick up.
Overcoming the Problem
I worked with the CTO to develop a new platform from scratch – both the user interface and the entire backend.
The first change we made was to convert the audience app into a web-app, where users could use their existing browsers. With all the presentation content being fed to devices on the day anyway, there were very marginal differences in load speeds between the app and the web-app. Usage has increased by nearly 40% since we made this change.
Documentation on how the onboarding will work depending on different settings
Then, understanding that presentation attendees can come in such a wide range of ages and technical abilities – rather than developing our own, unique visual language it made sense to build a design framework based on Material Design, and make the Glisser web-app feel like any other app on your device.
Without even realising perhaps, you will almost certainly have used Material Design and be instinctively familiar with it. Do you use YouTube, Google Search, Google Drive, or even the Android operating system? If so you’d immediately feel at home the new platform. For an attendee it’s vital that they find the web-app easy to use, as we’ve got just a matter of seconds to convince them before they put their phone away and give up.
In addition to the presentation web-app, we also built an event web-app. Typically an event manager will create a group of presentations within an agenda. It was designed for large exhibitions and conferences with multiple presentations, rooms and speakers.
The biggest challenge here was to make relevant presentations quickly accessible for the audience member, remembering that there could be 100+ from different days and rooms of the event. Firstly all presentations are accessible by room and day within the menu. Secondly there is a search to search for the presentation name. But most importantly I came up with an on now dashboard that queries both the allotted presentation time but also checks that the presentation is active. When both these criteria are met it is displayed in the on now tab, with a pulsing live marker.
Documentation on the behaviour on the audience app depending on different settings
The Final Outcome
The Glisser Presentation Management System is now used by some of the some of the biggest companies in the world, including LinkedIn, Herbalife and EY. It has been used at events such as Mobile World Congress, Cannes Lions, and various TEDx talks.