Selecting the right platform
We were approached recently by the comms team at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust to develop a mobile app to support the upcoming two day UKCRF Network conference. Using an App to connect with Conference delegates had been tried previously, so this year’s event organisers wanted to really test the software and the potential further.
Our usual approach would be to develop a mobile app either natively, or if budget is limited, via web technologies such as PhoneGap/Cordova or Ionic. With the conference looming, these options were not workable.
From a previous NHS project, we had knowledge of Attendify – an established event app platform with a rich set of features. In this instance, it was our recommended solution being both rapid to create and very cost effective.
The pros and cons of ‘off-the-shelf’
We usually avoid so called ‘off-the-shelf’ digital platforms ($100 WordPress themes for example – urgh!) They seem to promise the world and are cheap as chips, but often come at a price; buggy, bloated code, terrible or non-existent support and a nightmare to adapt. But Attendify was ideal, coming with a proven track record and an excellent customer services team we grilled in advance on the client’s behalf.
The Attendify app comes with an Activity Stream, allowing attendees to connect, comment, rate speakers and talks, and share photos, rather like the feed you would see in Facebook or LinkedIn. Common features include:
- Programme listing and break out sessions
- Speakers and biographies
- Interactive floorplan
- Sponsors and exhibitors
- Bookmarks and notes
- In-app notifications
Getting creative with the technology
Some content requirements fell outside what the app functionality allowed – this is where we had to get creative! For example, this conference had 150 medical posters pinned up on boards in the banqueting suite. The client wanted those who had downloaded the app to vote for the posters on their smartphones – a challenge when this function doesn’t exist, so we had to improvise and we got there!
The app made a big difference
On the big day, we were on hand to assist with any last minute changes to the programme, as well as to soak up the atmosphere and meet the delegates. App engagement was high, with the number of installs up by 50% on the previous year. We’re now preparing for 2020 – the conference is coming to our own backyard – Leicester!
Rachel Webster, Head of Communications for Research and Innovation at Nottingham University Hospitals said: “Having the App made a big difference to the conference and it was great to be able to communicate directly with delegates and get their feedback as the Conference was in session. With so much to look at and listen to during the two days, the App also had the advantage of enabling people to view information like the posters at their leisure. We will certainly be building it into our communications for future events.”
Contact us if you need help creating a mobile app for your annual conference or high profile event.