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Case Study: Conversation Mode

UI/UX Design

Sync's primary use case has remained essentially the same over the 8 years of it's existence: a second-screen experience during a live presentation that supplements the primary content and provides additional opportunities for audience engagement. Because of the idea that Sync would supplement primary content, a presentation deck is required each time you want to use the app. Recently, requests have been coming in for a different version of Sync that essentially removes the requirement of a presentation deck entirely.


Design a "lite" version of Sync that allows an attendee to view and submit comments and questions and engage with polls without any display of presenter content. I like to call it Conversation Mode.

Sync Conversation Mode Example

Move to Tabs

Up to this point, the primary focus of the Sync app has been on the presenter's content. Chat and Questions were always treated as secondary functionality and presented accordingly in the UI. So what happens if the primary focus is no longer the focus, as is the case with Conversation Mode? In this case, it's a tabbed interface.

Sync Conversation Mode Tabs Example

And, from the very beginning of designing this lite version of Sync, the intention was that it would eventually replace the UI for the full version so I had to ensure that it would work in those cases where the presenter's content does take priority.

Sync Conversation Mode Tabs with Slide Example

Modals for Questions and Comments

Another change to the interface is how the user inputs questions and comments. In this case, I think using a modal is the best approach. The modal allows separation of the user from all other activity in the application. It gives them a moment to focus on their thought. That's the intention anyway. :) Moving to a modal also removes the requirement for the user to be at either end of the question or comment streams to submit a question or comment. Combine that with the placement of the ( + ) button in the lower left corner of the interface and the user can submit a question or comment any time inspiration strikes.

Sync Chat Modal Example
Unrestricted Polls

The current version of Sync requires that any interaction (including polls) be added directly to a slide in the presentation deck. We've found that this requirement restricts the app's use cases. Under the current limitation, any polls for the audience have to be prepared beforehand and have an associated slide. By removing this restriction, Sync becomes much more flexible and open to supporting different presentation scenarios.

Sync Poll Example

Unfortunately, this request came in at a bad time and has yet to make it to any stage of development. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly shifted the priorities of the development team and this was moved to the back burner. However, I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to explore the Sync application in this way. It was the first step toward a major update to this Sync interface.

Copyright © 2020, Jeremy Billups