Making your conference website experience more seamless (part 2)

Lightning speed in the streets of London - Two way traffic In the last post we looked at two examples of making your conference website experience more seamless. In this part 2 we’ll look at two further examples of how to make a web user’s experience seamless in the context of a conference website.

We’ll wrap-up with why it’s so important to consider seamless experiences for your conference.

1. Informative tooltips

Tooltips are little snippets of information shown usually in a box when a user moves their cursor over a specific part of the screen. They have been around in computers for decades but their value on the web has increased in recent years. This is partly because of new technologies such as HTML5 have made tooltips richer in their appearance and more elegant in their capabilities (shadows, fading etc.). The fact of the matter is that web users love clues. Clues which are informative and add to the experience. It may be telling them if something is wrong, if something needs to be updated or saved or if time is running out, for example. It is not as seamless as the other examples, but in many scenarios it is something that is shown on the side – almost like a peripheral piece of information. And as we are used to absorbing information from around us, you could argue that tooltips are subtle hints which help in task completion. Think of it as a post-it note that helped you without you actually realising it’s a post-it note.

Example of a tooltip used on Amazon.com When hovering over "Cloud Drive" on Amazon.com, a tooltip with more information is shown

Amazon uses tooltips on its homepage to add additional information about different product categories. This helps reduce clutter on the page and helps make choosing where to go more seamless.

Where informative tooltips can help your conference website is for example when providing additional information about speakers such as a short speaker bio, without having to display it all on the page. Or you could provide tooltips when suggesting what kind of conference ticket the delegate should buy, thereby helping them choose the right ticket. And in the abstract submission point, tooltips can help explain certain elements of the process which may be unknown to delegates. This could be a specific part of the abstract or even what type of abstract or session to submit your paper as.

2. Instant form feedback

Imagine taking a driver’s license test and not getting any feedback from the instructor until the end of the test? In reality, this depends from country to country but what most of us would prefer is to have realtime feedback. You don’t want to wait until the end of the test to know how you did. What does this have to do with websites? Well, our friendly web forms often tell us at the end what is wrong, or worse yet, tell us something is wrong but not specifically what. What web people refer to as “inline form validation” is simply a form which provides feedback in realtime, directly to the person filling out the website form. Web form guru Luke Wroblewski wrote about this and noted the benefits it brought including less errors and quicker completion times.

Example of inline web form validation

Your conference website will without a doubt have lots of forms. Whether it’s contact forms, abstract submission forms, user comment forms, registration and booking forms, account sign up forms etc., having an instant feedback mechanism helps users. In fact, they may not even realise that their work is being checked. As Luke notes, “few users noticed validation messages for simple questions”.

Importance of a seamless experience

Why are seamless experiences so crucial? They provide a gratifying sense of achievement and ease of task completion for web users. More concretely for your conference they can result in:

  • Less unnecessary conference attendee enquiries
    For example a web form which is easier to complete means less frustrated or confused customers will contact the organisation due to not figuring out how to complete the form.
  • Greater feeling of satisfaction
    Users get a sense of achievement and enjoyment from using a website which works like clockwork. Additionally, people remember your site and conference better as they’ve had a positive experience
  • People actually finding your conference website useful
    This one is perhaps obvious, but nonetheless relevant. If people can use your website they will come back to it!
  • Potential delegates returning to your site
    A satisfied, less frustrated potential attendee, who found the website usable, is then more likely to return
  • Website goals being met
    If your conference website’s goals included getting more potential attendees aware of your conference, getting more of them to sign up to your newsletter, getting more registrations for next year’s conference, increasing the number of conference app downloads, increasing the number of repeat visitors and increasing the number of abstract submissions, whilst reducing the number of unnecessary phone calls and emails from confused and frustrated web users, then you will have taken a step close to achieving these goals when your website has a more seamless user experience

These are just some of the many examples where the user interface can make experiences seamless and ultimately better for both the user (whether they realise it or not!) and the conference organiser.

Do you have some other suggestions or comments? Let us know below!

Image credit: Wing Hei Choi Photography


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