Konf is an online conference platform that started in early 2020. It aimed to replicate physical conferences by having multiple virtual stages each with its own set of events and speakers. In addition to a general networking mixer for all the attendees.
It was a small startup with a team of 5 engineers, a product owner, and myself, the only product designer. But when I joined the platform was already up and running as they made some of the initial components using a ready-made design library (tailwind). But as any business grows in complexity, someone must be there to keep things in order, and that someone was me.
We also had a marketing person and a salesperson who led all the discussions with potential customers and gathered their feature requests. As some customers wouldn’t use the platform unless some features were in place, such as close captioning, or meeting WCAG2.0 accessibility standards. We had a meeting at the end of each sprint to discuss and prioritize those lists of requests as we had a lot to do to catch up with the competition.
Konf had a lot of traction right after the launch due to Covid-19. The team was able to land big clients such as TikTok to host their global internal conferences in late 2020 and 2021 by implementing a completely custom theme provided by their design team.
The biggest challenge I tackled briefly after I joined was how to make the platform customizable in the easiest way possible. Because each customer will need to make the platform look & feel like their own. And the previous customization page was a bit of a mess with too many color selectors for each part of the platform.
My approach to this was focusing on 3 key elements:
These elements in addition to adding some custom images and a header icon or banner can truly create many variations that match most of the customers' needs in terms of look & feel.
But that doesn’t mean that this approach is error-free. Because if the customer doesn’t know what they’re doing they can choose color combinations for the primary color and background theme that don’t match at all or make the platform inaccessible by choosing non-contrasting colors.
So we have to check the level of contrast between the selected colors, and if there isn’t enough contrast between them we display a warning to let the user know.
The next big update was for the networking options. When I first joined the only networking option was called the mixer, which allows you to meet random attendees who are in the mixer as well, then you can switch to the next person, and so forth.
But obviously, this is not enough for all types of events. In many events, attendees want to chat with specific persons or do a sales pitch to some attendees or sponsors.
So we made an update to have a more deliberate networking feature where you can find people and invite them to chat or have a video call. And since this can get very annoying very quickly to some people, we added an option to disable getting requests for chat, calls, or both. So that attendees who want to focus just on the sessions can enjoy that peace of mind.
Another small enhancement that I worked on during my brief period in Konf was a check modal to make sure that the person has the right camera and microphone selected before going on stage, similar to what you see now before joining a meeting at Google meet.
Later on, we worked also on supporting hybrid events where the speakers and attendees are in the same room and Konf act as a supporting layer for managing the attendees' chat, questions, answer polls and viewing other attendees' profiles to connect with them later.
Unfortunately, the project died about a year after I left the company, but I enjoyed working on this project and with the team that we had. I’m still in touch with them as each one of them was simply amazing to work with. Especially Haje Kamps who is one of the best managers I’ve worked with.
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