In 2011, we were approached by TED curator Chris Anderson to solve a familiar problem with conferences. We'd been to several before (including a few TEDs), and always found ourselves leaving with no way to continue talking to all the great people we'd met. All we'd have was a stack of business cards, and a vague recollection of names and faces from a hazy, long night. We set out to solve this problem with TED Connect.
Connecting the Connected
TED is all about connecting in person, so instead of encouraging people to recede into an app, we wanted to focus on making it easier to meet up and stay in touch. Attendees could access a directory of everyone at the conference, exchange contact info in seconds, direct message one another, and broadcast their location, making it easier than ever to connect with friends and make new ones.
Building TED Connect was a huge task. We were essentially building a mobile social network from the ground up, including a full web service, native iPhone app, mobile web app, and administrative dashboard, all within a three month timeline.
Scaling a private social network
How do you plan for spotty WiFi and unreliable 3G connections? We meticulously optimized response times and payload sizes to create a painless and seamless experience.
Business cards went the way of the dodo at TED: attendees shared over 7,000 contacts, created 155 locations, and checked in 3,685 times. TED Connect was used by over 65% of TED attendees (up from 14% with previous year's app) and TED has continued to use TED Connect at all of their conferences.
The activity feed provided a comprehensive overview of all the events and discussions happening at TED.
Allowing users to interact using familiar social network conventions, conversations flourished in TEDConnect.
By combining curated, user-generated, and 3rd party data, we allowed attendees to easily find each other in unfamiliar places.
The location screens gave attendees a live view of where the most interesting things were happening around Long Beach.