The Summit app

Two months ago, about 1800 Mozillians met up in three cities for the Summit. In the weeks leading up to the big event, a small group of Mozillians created a web app to help people navigate their way around the event and also interact in some fun ways.

The mobile experience at the Summit

The mobile experience at the Summit – photo by Viking Karwur

The app was created by a team of designers, engineers, and product folks: Harald Kirschner, Jen Fong-Adwent, Bill Walker, Lee Tom, Andrei Hajdukewycz, Giorgos Logiotatidis, Matt Brandt, Justin Crawford, Barry Munsterteiger, and myself.

The app was heavily used at the Summit – over 1700 Mozillians visited the app an average of 10 times each (20,000 visits total).

So, what does the app do? The app has four views

  • Schedule: a daily list of events
  • Random tips and bits: general information for participating and getting around the event.
  • Healthy Dialog: a breakfast conversation activity where each day Mozillians are matched into groups, which are identified by icons and colors.
  • 3 Questions: a response form asking about your current mood, anything you want to share with your fellow Mozillians and input box for recording who has had a positive impact on you.

Designing the app

We worked with the Summit planning team to learn how an app could best support the Summit. It quickly became clear that having a dynamic schedule was going to be the critical feature. Since session information was going to be added and changed up until the event, we needed any easy way for a dozen organizers to be able to update the schedule and have those changes shown to participants quickly. We used a Google Spreadsheet for the schedule content, and then the server and app pulled information from that spreadsheet every few minutes.

To help the Summit experience team, we also wanted to get a sense of how people were feeling and reacting to the Summit sessions. The 3 Questions form gave us a lightweight way to do that, by asking people to respond at least once a day. We also planned a big surprise based on how people answered the third question, “Who have you recently met that had a positive impact on you?”

Why we built an app

While we initially looked at some white-label event apps, we chose to create our own so that we could integrate it with our own technologies (Persona, Mozillians.org API) and provide the Healthy Dialog and 3 Questions activities. Ultimately, the app was a great way for us to dogfood and improve our own services.

Technologies

Impact

The Summit app gave us the ability to quickly update the schedule for all three cities and get the latest schedule to participants in minutes. We also used the responses from the 3 Questions form to give a prize to the Mozilla volunteer in each Summit city who had the biggest positive impact.

At the closing ceremony, the Fox presented an award to those three people. The award is a trip to any Mozilla Space in the world for a few days, to visit and meet our community there. Congratulations to Cliff Argwings, Vuyisile Ndlovu, and Irvin Chen for making the greatest impact on us (we can’t wait to hear about your trips!).

Cliff receives his award from The Fox in Brussels

Cliff receives his award from The Fox in Brussels – photo by Doug Belshaw

Hack on it

Check out the source code on Github and play with it. A forked version of the app was used at the Mozilla Festival, and there is potential to use this at other Mozilla events or any event you are organizing.

Give feedback

Did you find the Summit app valuable? What worked well? What you improve for next time?

4 thoughts on “The Summit app

  1. I think the two things I noticed most (and still remember after two months!) were:

    - The app didn’t auto-detect what city you were in (those geo-location APIs that were talked about at the summit could have been useful), or remember it, at least on Firefox OS;
    - The app didn’t just show you the schedule for the day it was; you kept having to swipe forward from Thursday.

    Other than that, I remember it being very useful!

  2. Those are great points. The app should have auto-detected your Summit city based on your mozillians.org profile, though it that didn’t work for everyone.

    I agree that having the app show the schedule for day (and even the next activity) would be a nice improvement.

    Glad you found the app useful, Nathan!

  3. Agreed on having to swipe forward to the appropriate day was annoying, largely because summit also means overloaded WiFi connections that were frustrating to use :)

    Also, I never managed to actually log in at all during the summit; I believe the IRC channel had a notice about known log in issues throughout the summit (it went away after the summit was over, but I never checked whether it was fixed or just timed out). Since the primary means of feedback was after that log in, it was rather frustrating ;)

    When the site didn’t have connection problems, though, it was working fairly well. Grouping sessions by time (so that it’s easier to tell which sessions were simultaneous) might have been useful, I guess, but some sessions were double-length… (I did end up leaving one session early because I thought the next was starting, but that was just a mistake on my part.)

  4. Yes, log in was an issue that should be fixed for next time. I like the idea of grouping sessions by time too.

    Thanks for the feedback, Mook!

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