Hack Week #4: Building the Best Conference App

by Hayley Baldwin - 16 Dec 2015

Nowadays it’s common for tech conferences to offer their own event-specific apps with schedules, location information, and other essential details. While convenient, these apps are often sub-optimal — buggy and slow, even for the most prestigious tech events. So with this in mind, one of our Hack Week teams is aiming to build a high-performance event app for Zalando.

“We want to redefine Zalando fashion, music and tech events of the future,” says Zalando Community Manager Joanna Buchmeyer.

Developing the app required Joanna and the team to understand how attendees physically move through conferences and relate to each other. While fashion is very much online, fashion events still take place in the three-dimensional world. To solve these puzzles, the project team includes test engineers, UX designers, two frontend engineers, and members of the Zalando Tech community team, experiential marketing and Innovation Lab team.

Vivien Leung gives us a look into the concept that started the project:

Building the App


Zalando frontend engineer Ahmed Sayeed Abbas explains that the development team is using React Native to show that it’s possible to build — in less than a week — a production-ready app that applies one logic for both Android and iOS. “The community support is really strong for React Native, he says, “so we get a fast response to questions and issues we might have.”

As for features and usability, the app addresses the fashion world’s emphasis on personal brand building and networking by facilitating connections between people and opportunities. Some of its features include:

  • scheduling, which event organizers can live-update
  • scheduling for users
  • making reservations so users can add themselves to guestlists for event satellite events, exhibits and shows
  • a built-in, user-curated social engagement view
  • connectivity to third-party applications like Twitter and Instagram
  • beacon integration for offers, prizes, and announcements

The overarching idea is to mobilize, inspire and engage attendees while helping them to get the most out of their conference experience.

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