Works in Progress

Experience Design: When Disaster Strikes

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Shock is the only word I can think of to describe my body’s innate reaction to hearing the words ‘Microsoft is pulling out of HiMSS20 due to the Coronavirus.’ Shock, disappointment, and anger at my inability to head off the tears…because I knew that that would likely mean that NewWave would follow their lead and pull out as well. Sure enough, within an hour it was confirmed that the dreaded decision had been made and we had to literally walk away from 4-5 months of nearly all-consuming work on the part of my design team, as well as our event coordinator and communications team members. And within another day, news came that the entire HiMSS Conference had been cancelled for the first time in 58 years.

While this post definitely bemoans the perceived loss and abrupt adjustment of our priorities, this is not a critique of the decision itself.

I do not envy, but rather respect those who had to make such an expensive call in favor of erring on the side of caution for the sake of human life. Not to mention how horrifically ironic it would be to inadvertently spread a rapidly-spreading, infectious disease by choosing to move forward and host the 2020 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition amid a declared State of Emergency in the state of Florida.

Collaboration + Celebration Go Hand-in-Hand

If I’ve learned one thing as a leader, it’s that we need to take time to celebrate the collaborative efforts of our team! We’re each processing differently, some needing some mental recoup time more than others, but all in all, we are proud of the work that’s been done and we make a point to pass the kudos around and make note of the heart and soul put into this entire design process.

So we celebrate! The event planning team consisted of our amazingly organized event specialist, who has recently taken on this year’s tradeshow and business development event planning responsibilities, plus my Creative Services Team of 3, the Communications Team of 3, and the Workplace Experience Team members as well. 

Below is just snapshot – a glimpse into what we had planned for our booth visitors – enjoy! (Shared design credit for several elements goes to my talented team members, Hima Bichali & Monica Lecesne).

For nearly half of the year, it’s been my mandate to lead the team in the creation of a full experience for our HiMSS booth visitors. That huge effort included  over 200 actions, just within the Creative Services team, let alone the other contributors’ responsibilities. Some key tasks (certainly not all) are listed here for context if you’re unfamiliar with what goes into something of this size:
  • Multi-level, custom 40’x20′ tradeshow booth design with touchable sequin fabric wall to connect visitors physically to the space
  • 6 tvs, showcasing 4 videos highlighting our top storylines for HiMSS
  • Touchscreen interface design; self-serve videos & SME spotlights
  • Social media campaigns, technical writing & blog posts
  • Marketing materials, raffle prizes & promotional swag
  • Selfie props with related social media tags
  • Website landing pages with gated content for further education
  • Custom staff & promotional apparel 
  • Live watercolor backgrounds on digital signage
  • Augmented reality elements floating throughout; visible by iPads

Early Adopters: Adobe Fresco & Adobe Aero

At AdobeMAX 2019, this past November, Adobe released a ton of updates and new software, as they can be expected to do each year. But the two programs that I was waiting eagerly for this year were Adobe Aero and Adobe Fresco – both mobile applications that put even more robust tools than ever into the palms of designers everywhere. I get a thrill out of incorporating cutting edge tech into the back end of an experience, so what did we do? You guessed it – we embraced these awesome new capabilities whole-heartedly and incorporated them into our exhibit! 

Using Adobe Aero’s front-end, mobile capabilities to create augmented reality experiences using our iPads, I pulled in customized elements from Adobe Dimension, Illustrator and Photoshop and set up trivia cards floating in mid-air, iridescent gems dotting the landscape for surreal accent, signage only seen in AR, and an abstract sculpture hanging the rafters above it all.

Adobe Fresco (formerly Project Gemini)’s differentiating allure is that it gives an artist the feel of actual painting. Its features include vector and raster brushes, but the most exciting are the live watercolor and oil brushes that use the Apple Pencil to give analog sensation to a digital paintbrush. So since you can see that NewWave’s branding includes many bright gradients, of course we saw the perfect opportunity to create moving watercolor backgrounds for a few of our marketing messages for the tv screens.

HiMSS20 Sequin wall

Here’s to the makers who wake up every day excited to push boundaries in design in order to set their users up for unforgettable, immersive experiences. I’m grateful to work alongside you!

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