Mobile SXSW: How To Create A Great Event App

With SXSW almost a week away, #shamber is frantically RSVP-ing to any and all parties and checking out the schedule to pick which sessions we will be attending. The thing that has helped us out the most is the official SXSW GO® app, which was developed by Vancouver’s own Xomo.

Users can quickly pick which track they’re interested in, select the day, then browse through the list of SXSW sessions. In addition to session info, the favouriting mechanism makes it easy to create a customized schedule.

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And yes, I will be attending the Ping Pong Tournament – who wouldn’t?

Creating a seamless event app is crucial, especially the event app for the biggest tech conference on the planet – an event where mobile apps and social media platforms can either make it or break it. No pressure for the company that made the app (insert sarcasm). Fortunately, SXSW selected Xomo to tackle the challenge for the third year in a row.

I had the chance to meet up with Jeff Sinclair, co-founder of Xomo, at our recent pre-SXSW drinks night. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What’s new in the SXSW app this year?


You can now Share Your Schedule with your Facebook Friends – so you will always know where to find everybody.  We also added SXSW Radar – which lets you see who else is in the room with you at a session.  This year we’re also helping showcase more of the 5,000+ official events taking place across Austin with an interactive media wall called Discover.

Q:Why just event apps and not other types of apps?


 One of the first apps we did was the official Vancouver 2010 Olympics app, and we won the Best Mobile App at the Canadian New Media Awards (now Digi Awards) in Toronto.  That success led to many other events contacting us … so we figured it was a good space to be in.

If we did other types of apps, we feel our message to event organizers would be diluted. If you organize an event, we want to be the perfect provider for you.

Plus there are a lot of great custom mobile app companies out there.  We usually refer people to … partly because we own that company too.

Q: What, in your opinion, makes a great event app?


You have to understand the mindset of an attendee in order to understand the prime use cases for an event app. The app needs to quickly answer the question: “What Can I Do Next?”  Other key uses cases: plan ahead, navigate, share, network and discover.

Q: What was your favourite event app to work on?


The Vancouver 2010 Olympics was great as it was in our home town, but the London 2012 Olympics will be hard to beat. I worked out of our UK office for the summer and it was incredible to see so many people across London using the app. Of course SXSW, Social Media Week, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Sundance, Tribeca, Calgary Stampede and Chicago Gourmet have all been fun too. I really do have a great job.

Q: What would be the one tip you would give SXSW newbies like myself?


Follow the “Mind Like Water” mantra. Don’t try to do everything all at once as your brain may well explode.

Well, I certainly don’t want my brain to explode so I think I will practice Jeff’s mantra while I’m there. Also, if you are interested in learning more about Xomo while at SXSW, stop by to visit the Xomo Team at the Tradeshow – Booth # 1556. And don’t forget to follow #shamber as we embark on our SXSW adventure!

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