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Design and Functionality of Great Event Apps

In this final installment of the article series on event apps featuring Marvin McTaw from EventCommercials.com, we looked at the importance of design and functionality of apps as well as the idea of certain apps and functions could become superfluous (see part 1 here and part 2 here). Marvin also gave a great tip on […]

In this final installment of the article series on event apps featuring Marvin McTaw from EventCommercials.com, we looked at the importance of design and functionality of apps as well as the idea of certain apps and functions could become superfluous (see part 1 here and part 2 here). Marvin also gave a great tip on how you can find the best app to suit your needs.

 

What kinds of features/design/functionality are important in a great app?

Event organizers should look at the strategic goals for their event (e.g. increase networking opportunities among attendees) and then determine whether or not a mobile app will help them accomplish it. If, and only if, a mobile app can help you accomplish your goals should you then determine whether or not an app would actually be used by the attendees. If your attendees aren’t going to use your app, no matter how useful it is, then you probably shouldn’t invest in an app.

The vast majority of events probably don’t need the “Cadillac” version of apps. Most attendees would probably be incredibly happy with good mobile website given the other consideration. If you choose to get an app, I’m personally biased towards minimalism in event apps given their short shelf life and the need for immediate utility. The vast majority of attendees will be more than satisfied and happier with cleaner, simpler apps that help them do things faster.

Some mobile app providers will try and sell you on a particular feature that you might find appealing. I recommend you ask for data on how many people normally use that particular feature because generally speaking, due to the short shelf life of your event app, most attendees won’t find or discover the particular feature. Generally speaking though, keep it simple, especially if you’re just starting and think about your end user, the attendee.

 

Are there times when apps are unnecessary?

Even at larger events, my personal opinion is that native apps are more of a “nice to have” than a “need to have”. I’d recommend investing the funds you might have spent on a native app on increasing your wifi bandwith and the wifi coverage area for your event. This is because that’s going to be more important to the overall experience of attendees anyway.

For most smaller conferences, meetings and trade shows I don’t think native apps are necessary. While they might marginally improve the attendee experience, the additional work they can generate for the organizer usually isn’t worth the extra hassle. Instead, focus on making sure you have a fantastic mobile-optimized website.

The other time I don’t recommend having a native app is if you can’t offset the app cost or generate significant revenues from it. This is due to the fact that there is time required to actually manage the app itself and deal with issues that will arise from it. Usually things work seamlessly, but when they don’t, they can be a huge time drain especially if you’re not familiar with the terrain.

 

Do you have any favorite event apps?

While I do have favorite event apps that reflect my own personal preferences and tastes, I don’t feel it’s proper for me to recommend any specific companies or apps without knowing the specific goals and needs of the organizer or attendees. I will however recommend this Quora post which lists several apps and app developers that I think are pretty darn good: http://j.mp/17lYCtY

 

 

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