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Tech Open Air - Bringing people together through an event app 


TOA cover





  • Budget limitations (programs, sponsor material must all be digital)

  • Need to reinforce the sense of community (last in person event was in 2019) 


Attendees of the festival need to be able to create their own schedule in order to feel in control of the experience.


They wanted to facilitate networking by implementing a 'matching' functionality, similar to that of a dating app where you match with other attendees by swiping.



We integrated a scheduling function in the prototype that would allow people to organise their day. It also let's people set reminders before an event, know if they saved colliding events and see scheduled meetings with other attendees.


We created TOA Connect, a feature that shows different profiles of attendees (investors, start-up owners...) depending on the tags you choose in the onboarding. You can swipe to send an invitation to connect, if they accept, they will be stored in your contacts page.


In order to differentiate this functionality from dating apps, we changed the direction of the swipe from right to up. You are also able to book meetings, chat with people and search others by name or by scanning other people's digital IDs (a QR code in the homepage). 


The initial briefing from the stakeholder was to implement a Tinder like function in which you would swipe right or left to match with other attendees.


  • Despite it being an original/fun idea, we learned that there could be room for abuse, especially making women feel insecure about using such functionality.

  • The swipe right/left has an underlying connotation of Tinder (hook-ups). We received feedback during the interviews that people found this problematic.

  • Taking the app down too soon would lead to people losing contacts they made during the event.

Tech Open Air was born in Berlin in 2012 from the desire to bridge technology and community through a different kind of event. They take pride in the fact that they are a community based festival with the artsy Berlin vibes.

Their challenge:

👥 Encourage networking by implementing a Tinder-like feature that matches attendees with other attendees, depending on what they’re looking for/are interested in.

📆 Incorporating a scheduling function to allow people to have a customised experience.

📣 Increased sponsor digital presence since they were going paper-free for this new edition.


Competition logos

We analysed other tech festivals around the world in order to study their way of presenting themselves, visuals and event applications. Our main references were SXSWBits&Pretzels and Web Summit Lisbon, some of them gathering audiences of up until 70 thousand people per edition


Affinity diagram 1
Affinity diagram 2
Affinity diagram 3
Empathy map

Interview criteria:

  • 👥 7 people (all genders)

  • 💻 Tech savvy

  • 🎤 Regular attendees of tech related events


We organised our findings in a list of what users need, see, feel, say, think and do:

  • 📌 NEED: "Info about the program and speakers. As much information there as possible."

  • 👁️ SEE: "On the conference badge there was a QR Code where you could get the contact details"

  • ❤️ FEEL: “I’d feel more safe to engage if it was specified that this is for exploring professional environments” (about the matching functionality).

  • 🗣️ SAY: “Getting to know people in advance allows me to evaluate the relationships prior to coming in”

  • 🧠 THINK: "People might use the app for hookups"

  • 💪 DO: "She prefers to fill all information at least one week before the event"



User Persona.jpg

What you’ll see next is the user journey we created for him:

User journey map.jpg

TOA 2023 attendees need to find a way to be able to tailor their agendas and networking opportunities to their preferences because they have different goals and it is difficult to achieve them without help.


Crazy 8
Crazy 8


✅ ​​Setting up preferences from the onboarding with different tags as well as the possibility to choose the profile of the attendee (e.g. attendee, investor, founder etc.).

✅ Connect profile with LinkedIn + digital ID (QR code) that people can scan in order to take them to other attendees’ profiles.

✅ Interactive schedule with the option to filter by tags and to save your favorite sessions into a “My Schedule Page”.

✅ TOA Connect, a feature with functions similar to dating apps, through which attendees can safely meet other attendees based on their profile and interests.

✅ Interactive Ads with sponsor pages that show you the people that are present from the respective company.


We've created a sitemap for the app that will feature the most important things in their homepage:

Site map


Having worked through the information architecture and feature prioritisation, we started to sketch out our ideas for the app ir order to do some testing and learn what people thought about the concept:

Low-fi wireframes

Interview criteria:

  • 👥 7 people (all genders)

  • 💻 Tech savvy

  • 🎤 Familiar with festival/tech events environments and dating apps



🔵 “I think the scheduling will be really useful.”

🔵 “Love the idea of the networking.”

🔵 “I want to go to an event that has this app.”

🔵 She likes all the features, finds it useful “I always get lost… I always lose so much time”

🔵 “It will be very helpful for people looking for investors and other networking people.”

🔻 “You don’t want the creepy old men thinking they can flirt with women

🔻 Swiping might lead to abuse (Tinder connotations)* 

🔻 There were some issues with the name of the sections (e.g: inbox instead of messages)

🔻 People expressed concern on what would happen if there were 2 colliding events in the schedule

🔻 Some people were confused as to where to find their own schedule

👉 *By knowing this, we learned that we had to be really careful about how to handle this matching functionality and distance people from the underlying Tinder connotations.


After testing, we incorporated the feedback to our mid-fis. It included changes in the wording, position of elements, icons, and adjustments in some sections:


Incorporated a bell icon in all session cards for people to click directly on to set an alarm.


Changed the word ‘Inbox’ for ‘Messages’ in the navigation bar because it was misleading for the users.


Eliminated the private messages icon in the Networking page (TOA Connect) people weren’t sure about what it meant.

Divided the scheduling page into 2 (All sessions and My schedule) for people to manage their events in one page.

Low-fi wireframes
Low-fi wireframes
Low-fi wireframes
Low-fi wireframes
Mid-fi wireframes


Interview criteria:

  • 👥 5 people (all women)

  • 💻 Tech savvy

  • 🎤 Familiar with festival/tech events environments and dating apps



🔵 “It’s really helpful” She knows where to go to add the session to her schedule (she noticed it right away).

🔵 I didn’t have a lot of experience before with events app, but they are usually quite boring. Never really as engaging as the one you just showed me.

🔵 Homepage feels like her profile page — everything is personalised towards her.

🔻 “I’m under the impression that this is a bit unclear.” (about the onboarding explanation for the networking feature).

🔻 “Make it more clear that you have two options there.” (Networking page).

🔻 She would proceed with horizontal scrolling after swiping up.

🔻 Doesn’t like the idea of scrolling down to reject and losing a potential contact forever*

👉 *For the networking feature, we initially ideated that people would scroll horizontally through the profiles, swipe up to send an invitation to connect and swipe down to skip the contact forever (as opposed to swiping left and right like in Tinder) to distance ourselves from the “hook up” connotation. We decided to simplify the process by swiping horizontally to browse and then up to send invitation.


Visual competitive analysis

In order to jump into the high-fidelity wireframes, we needed to analyse the competition first. We gathered that some of the tech festivals presented themselves in a more corporate manner (with dim colors and corporate illustrations, like the Web Summit Lisbon) and others like SXSW were more “out of the box” in the use of color and graphic elements. Bits&Pretzels appeared to be somewhere in the middle.


The look and feel for this year’s event had already been established by TOA Berlin. They provided a visual as an example that we used to build the style tile.

Style tile.jpg



After gathering all of the above, (usability feedback, visual competitive analysis and visual elements) we were able to implement everything into our hi-fis. Here’s a quick video demonstration of the flow:



Last step of the process was to test for desirability (to see whether the interface is appealing enough for users).

Here are some of the key insights we gathered:


🔵 “Feels young, fresh and original”

🔵 “It doesn’t look like other apps”

🔵 “I love the retro look”

🔵 “It’s visual and interactive”

🔵 “It’s dynamic, intuitive and modern”

🔵 “It has a retro and fun vibe”


For this project, we learned that:

💡 Even good ideas need to be approached with caution (e.g.: the Tinder like feature).


📲 Abilitating the app a couple of weeks prior to the event as well as keeping it running for a few days after the event would benefit end users when it comes to making and solidifying connections with other attendees.

🪚 You definitely cannot build an entire event app with networking and scheduling functionalities in two weeks (but you can build an MVP version of it 😉).

📬 A good flow of communication with the stakeholder is crucial.

❤️‍🩹 You have to give yourself the space to fail and try.

HD mockup.jpg
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