"Networking" is often stated as the reason people attend different conferences. I have attended various events and conferences where people do networking and even secure jobs, and I am BAD at it. I usually spend that time on my phone or talk to one person, bond with them, and hangout with them throughout the conference. I regret this behaviour because I feel like I missed so many good opportunities and didn't fully leverage everything that the conference had to give me. If any of this sounds like you, I have found us a solution!
I was first inspired by fitbit, since it tracks a person's fitness related activies and I thought we can have an app to track an individual's social activity. Hence the name, SocialBit.
What it does
It is a platform which attendees of any event can use to network and break ice with people around them. It has various features:
Profile - The individual's basic profile is built from the information they had submitted to the organisers prior to selection. On joining the event you once again get the option of modifying your profile, professional and extracurricular interests.
Match - You can now move on to the Matching. The app will use your location to find people near you who are amenable for a conversation. While it will show you multiple people, the background algorithm will connect you to the person who matches you best based on various parameters like professional interests, song choices and more. You are then directed to go to a certain location (table, booth) which has been setup as a meeting point by the organisers.
Icebreakers - Some people have difficulty having a conversation. They might not know what questions to ask, or there might be a lull in the conversation itself. Worry not, SocialBit has you covered. We curate a set of icebreaker questions based on the interests of the person you are talking to. Both of you will have a different set of questions and the more conversations you more the more words will starts flowing and you will be able to can carry on without the app itself (We'll miss you)
Leaderboard - This is why we are doing this! The event organisers will announce prizes or some incentives for the attendees at the top of the leaderboard at the beginning of the event itself. While networking, make sure you finish as many tasks as possible. Each task has points attached to it. The people who finish tasks which had up to more points are higher up on the leaderboard.
Notes - Keep track of the people who've spoken to and what you have spoken about by entering notes in your conversation log and looking at the event attendees.
How I built it
I did the UI prototyping entirely in Adobe XD. The logo was designed in Adobe Illustrator. I looked at a few leaderboard screenshots online to get a feel for how to design the leaderboard.
Challenges I ran into
A considerable challenge was keeping track of all the random ideas I had for the expansion of the app, my brain was spewing them faster than I could note them down and execute them. A major issue was just deciding the color scheme and what vibe should someone using the app get - I wanted it to be breezy and colorful so people of any age could use it.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I do not have academic background in UI/UX design, so I had to rely on pain points during my own experiences at conferences. I made an attempt to use Stanford d.school's Empathise, Ideate, Design, Prototype, Test, Assess philosophy. I am super proud of building a fully functional prototype which can be used by anyone to get an idea what SocialBit is all about!
I had two users play with the prototype, one a school-going student and another a doctor who regularly attends conferences. Both gave raving reviews to the idea and the prototype. A couple suggestions were incorporated to achieve the final result!
What I learned
I learnt that it is very easy to like your own product and ignore all criticism and recommendations. I need to like my work less and be more receptive to suggestions.
What's next for SocialBit
Developing a full functional mobile app!
- First off there will definitely be user data and privacy concerns and we plan to fully ensure data encryption so data cannot and is not misused.
- Designing the matching algorithm is going to be a major task. Maybe the event attendees Twitter tweets can be analysed and matching can be done on that basis too.
- Code needs to be written for curating the list of questions specific to the pair of people having the conversation.
- The user flow and design for the organiser side of the table needs to be discussed. We also need to design a Google form which can be linked to our app and used to automatically fill the user profile on our app.
- The user can enter their own set of icebreaker questions which worked for them. This can help us improve our model aswell as help them in conversations.
The ideal expansion would be if SocialBit can be used without any room creation at all. This way, you can talk to strangers while riding the train, playing on the grounds, or even while you have a 24 hour layover at the airport!
Worry not my introverts and social anxiety sufferers - we are going to do this and your inner social butterfly is definitely going places!