Before, during, and after an event: Put AX at the centre of it all.
No, that’s not a typo.
You’ve heard, no doubt, of user experience (UX) design and taking a human-centric approach to everything. In product and software development, UX is best practice because, without users, do you even exist?
To summarise, a mobile app has good UX if it meets the user’s needs, is easy to use, and is nice to look at. Importantly, it guides the user with little effort or frustration. Everything comes together beautifully, and every interaction elicits a positive emotional response.
So what’s AX? It’s UX, but for event attendees. It’s every interaction an attendee has – with every touchpoint – before, during, and after your event. The journey starts from the moment they’re made aware of the event to the post-event follow-up. So, let’s unpack what excellent AX looks (and feels) like.
Before the event
The invite to or advert for your event sets the tone and creates expectations about what attendees will get in return for their time and possibly their money. It better be good, and you better be able to live up to your own hype.
Then, make the registration process quick and easy. Ask only for must-have info and send a confirmation email that registration was successful. In the run-up to the event, initiate a drip marketing campaign, offering teasers of everything your guest can look forward to.
During the event
Speakers, workshops, lighting, food, entertainment, design, styling, networking, product demos… Each of these provides a different touchpoint; a different opportunity to engage with your attendees. And each one must evoke a positive emotional response. Or why bother?
To make a lasting impression, surprise, delight, entertain, engage, and educate. For example:
• Use tech to build immersive experiences. Use facial recognition to speed up registration and tag attendees in photos, or use a chatbot to answer questions, like ‘Where’s the smoking area?’ and ‘What time and on what stage is Joe Soap presenting?’
• Rethink your content delivery defaults. If you must have speeches, keep them short. Use video, augmented reality, virtual reality, and gamification to put attendees at the centre of the content.
• Make attendees get up and do things. Get them to write on a wall, take a photo with a unique filter, or enter a business card lottery. Offer hands-on learning opportunities through labs, product zones, and escape rooms.
• But give them a break. Give attendees a chance to break away and recharge. Set up quiet rooms, offer five-minute massages, and be aware of the need for ‘bleisure (business + leisure)’.
After the event
The event is not over when it’s over. That’s the time to get feedback from attendees and analyse data for a better event next time. Some events even use tracking technology to understand things like which sessions had low attendance, how long attendees stayed, and where they spent most of their time.
A core principle of UX is to understand the user, accommodate their requests, and pivot to meet their expectations. All the time, every time. Same with AX.