Management & Strategy

Project Name

NN/g Virtual Conference

Mar 2020


Type of Project:
Instructional & Service Design

Lead Designer & Co-Researcher

Project Goal
Redesign the UX Conference experience to create a sense of community during a pandemic.


On the heels of our last in-person conference in February 2020, our company had strategize how we would adapt our offerings to survive the pandemic. Since I already managed an adjacent offering with similar requirements (NN/g’s 1-Hour Talk program), I was asked to take charge of the multi-channel design strategy to translate our in-person conferences into 100% virtual events.

A majority of our competitors opted to cancel or postpone events indefinitely. However, we sought to retain customers and still meet their needs as closely as possible without canceling any already-scheduled events. Thus, we created and implemented version 1 of this pivotal strategy within 3 weeks.

Given the emergency nature of the situation, the initial decision-making strategy was largely “authoritarian,” however, we used the opportunity to rapidly prototype, test, and iterate upon the conference experience more collaboratively based on the outcome of the virtual conference launch in March 2020.

While we’ve reached a stable state, (which is still iteratively improving, given the added benefit of attracting customers in new geographies) our process is still somewhat proprietary. However, I can share a few important lessons learned, and can answer any specific questions via private message.

Lessons Learned

  • Decrease the barrier to entry by choosing ubiquitous tools in order to maximize engagement and focus on the methodologies rather than on learning new tools.
  • Account for “attention switching costs” when timing content delivery, and use this knowledge to (1) enable intentional attention switching for engagement and (2) decrease unnecessary switching.
  • Offer synchronous and asynchronous activities and networking options in order to appeal to different personalities and professional needs.
  • Reprioritize routine work during non-routine circumstances in order to adapt quickly.
  • Speed to market in this case, was a huge differentiator given that so many other competitors opted to bide their time and “wait out” the new conditions.