Making your conference website experience more seamless (part 1)

Seamless speed - Racer on a motorbike
As we think of elements that need to be seamless we often talk about seamless integrations. The web is now full of them. Whether it’s Facebook integration with email marketing company MailChimp or SugarCRM integration with Google Apps, it all seems to be about how seamlessly we can connect the web’s disparate services together. This also adds value to a service. But what about seamless web user experience? User experience (UX) can often be either forgotten, dismissed or in some ways brashly pushed aside in web design projects. Let me tell you about what I call seamless web user experience. I’ll provide four concrete examples of how you can make your conference website more seamless for your attendees.

When we talk about the web user experience we are really talking about crafting the best possible experience which the intended website visitor should have. In the context of this blog post let’s limit this discussion to the web users’ relationship with the site’s user interface (UI). This must be considered in such a way as to minimise frustration and maximise utility. Let’s make sure the visitors get things done without them even realising it. That’s seamless. Great websites do this without us noticing it. What they really do is make things so intuitive that we not only use the website’s functionalities without thinking or expanding a lot of conscious effort, but we also find using them fun.

Let’s look at two examples where we can make experiences more seamless:

1. Autocomplete and autocorrect search

When was the last time you wrote out the entire search query? Or wrote a long search query without any spelling mistakes? A good example of seamless interaction is when Googling something and having the search engine complete and guess or correct our search. This is often done by users without even realising and certainly many now rely on it. Indeed, this may not always improve usability as it can also prove a distraction, so testing is always recommended.

Autocomplete example on Google search

This searching can be done when potential delegates are browsing through your conference programme or looking for a list of keynote speakers. It can also be beneficial for scientific committees who wish to search for a specific abstract, author or topic when marking abstracts. All this searching can be made seamless through the lack of a necessary input or choice from the user. They just search.

2. Autosave

It’s all too common for us to spend a lot of time completing complex forms with lots of information, only to have to start all over again because you received an error, accidentally closed the tab or window, lost your internet connection, got distracted by a phone call etc. Autosave is a life saver and most often seamless. You may close that window, hit the browser back button or come back to your screen in an hour and your information is still there – saved! This is autosaving and a great example is YouTube. Understandably uploading videos there can take a long time but any changes are automatically saved, which is very seamless.

Autosaving in YouTube

A very logical place for this to aid your conference website attendees is at the point where they are submitting abstracts to your conference. This can often be timeconsuming and involve a lot of data which might not all be readily available. You may have people who wish to come back to their research papers before submitting them...or they may be confused about a certain question or option and need to clarify with the conference organisers or peers before submitting. Making sure that this information is automatically saved is a seamless life saving functionality, vastly improving the user experience of conference delegates.

What do you think? Have you got other examples of making a web user’s experience seamless? Let us know in the comments.

Read part two here, where we’ll look at two further examples of seamless user experiences and also why it’s so important for your next conference website.

Image credit: Wing Hei Choi Photography

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