Event: UXDC Conference 2015
Skills: Design-thinking workshops, customer journey maps, personas, project management
Tools: Basecamp, Keynote, Post-It notes (soooo many), Google Spreadsheets, 75 volunteers
In March of 2015, UXPA asked me to join their Executive Planning Committee (6 people total) tasked to rebrand and improve their annual User Focus Conference. In my seven months as Volunteer Coordinator, I had the opportunity to coordinate an a amazing team of Conference volunteers and work to make the October UXDC 2015 Conference a success.
UXPA wanted to rebrand their annual Conference (formerly User Focus) to increase visibility and attendance.
- Build a team. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and as volunteer coordinator I set out to gather new and old Conference volunteers, assess their level of interest and skill level, and match them in a role that would make them happy and contribute to the conference. To this end, I wrote a flurry of “Welcome” emails followed by Basecamp invitations, and created a spreadsheet to track contact info, primary interests, availability, and additional info.
- Make personas for the Conference. Once we had a committed group of volunteers, three of us on the Executive Committee made personas à la Jeff Gothelf. The personas represented our Conference speakers, attendees, sponsors, and the conference itself. We then held a Design Thinking workshop where we presented these personas to our volunteers so they could help us map out our customer journey of the days before and day of the Conference.
- Plan and Run Design Thinking Workshops. We presented our personas to the team of 30 volunteers that came to our kickoff Design Thinking workshop. We then asked them to brainstorm ideas of what would make each party represented in the personas the happiest in the context of the UXDC 2015 conference. They wrote ideas on post-it notes and displayed them around the personas that we had taped to the walls.
- Planning and Implementation. After we discussed ideas to make speakers, sponsors, and attendees happy at the conference, we identified which ideas were most viable on a tight budget. We put our workshop ideas into action via Basecamp, email, and Google Docs. Throughout the next few months, I tasked volunteers with action items, participated in strategic planning meetings with the Executive Committee, filled in volunteer gaps where needed, and helped keep operations running smoothly to make Conference Magic happen.
Host the conference! After workshops, stand-up meetings, numerous Google Docs for project planning, and some last minute triage, we hosted UXDC 2015. Here were the takeaways:
- 2014-2015 attendee total increase: 25%
- 2014-2015 proposal submission increase: 160%
- 2014-2015 conference revenue increase: 57%
And here was the Happy Executive Committee at the UXDC Happy Hour: