Change Factory

Design Leadership, Design Systems, UX Design

CLIENT — Google Cloud
UX DIRECTOR — Peter Knocke
TECH DIRECTOR — Jasmin Rubinovitz


At an exclusive, invite-only, executive session at the Google Cloud Next conference, Google wanted to spark conversations about data privacy and cloud development. We had just three months to design and build a system to handle seamless communication and interactivity across over 200 devices. Everything from physical device logistics to multi-user session management had to be planned, designed, and tested before the big event.

Google Cloud NeXT Conference

Hundreds of devices, a shared narrative

As participants entered the space, they received their own tablets. A series of questions prompted them to explore their current business challenges. As they interacted with the tablets, live visualizations of their answers in aggregate were displayed on large screens in the room. These data visualizations informed interactive panels and group sessions. The moderator and group leaders were able to seamlessly provide insights and adapt the session to guide the conversations of the day.

Establishing the system

How many devices would truly be needed to create this experience? We helped the client work through critical decisions of room and system design. We helped to select and procure specific laptops, tablets, projectors, and backup machines to power the system and provide redundancy.

Screen Size Variations

In giving each participant a personal device, we were quite concerned with the management of focus. Where should each participants’ focus be at any point in time? We mapped out 4 different styles of screens which then would help to direct the users’ attention towards the large displays, the moderator, or their own tablet.

Screen Style Variations

Temporal organization 

Given the time sensitivity of the session as well as the hundreds of devices to manage, my critical design decision was to anchor the application structure to a global timeline. Depending on the timing within the session, each user would see different information, prompts, and functionality as the session progressed.

Overall Session Flow

Specific Moderator Flow Variation

This temporal organization gave natural points for moving around the room or creating quick breaks for questions. The moderator controlling the single timeline helped insure that each participant device could only access the current section’s information even in the case of connectivity errors.

Experience management and control

The moderator controls had to balance a wide array of functionality while still allowing for the moderator to make adjustments with the smallest amount of focus. Clear chapter and paragraph controls allowed the moderator to adjust what information each participant could access on their device. I also integrated presentation tools such as swap screens, a session countdown timer, and a global ‘Opps!’ switch to simply display the conference logo, to aid the moderator in providing a smooth conference session.

Moderator Control

During breakout sessions, each of 7 group moderators had their own unique control panel to manage and adapt the content and questions for their own specific breakout session. Each moderator was able to upload their specific questions and slides into the application for testing before the day of the conference.

Group Leader Control

Rapid content development

Content was drafted and refined within Google Sheets as a development CMS allowing for rapid testing. Beta versions of the application were able to pull directly from Google Sheets allowing the team to edit, refine, and modify content before it broke the experience.

Google Sheets as CMS

Only the questions

We kept a design strategy of ‘Only the questions’ as we designed the final participant application screen. We wanted these screens to be clearly a product within the Google design language, but we wanted to remove all other potential interface elements so that questions could be answered quickly without confusion.

Participant Screens

Visualizing live data

Working closely with the creative director, we created 6 visualization styles each with unique animations mapped to specific content sources. Each of these styles would actively grow, shrink, and shift as the live results were tallied.

Active Visualization Styles

Taking up space

To test this elaborate system, we loaded up crates of tablets and took over a small event space. We physically laid out the tablets ensuring each was able to connect to the system and respond adequately in time. As we ran around the room voting on different devices, we were able to finally know for certain that our real-time testing infrastructure was working and the experience was coming together as designed.

Live Device Testing

Interfaces as a tool for alignment

As the conference approached, the interface screens were used as a run-of-show to communicate the complexities of interaction and what to expect during each portion of the session. Various points of misalignment were caught and fixed before the final event.

Multi-device Interface Guides

A final large conference session interface map organized by the global timeline was crafted. The design team and conference staff used this map to align on what to expect from each device at every moment during the live sessions.

Full Conference Interface Map

Project Outcome

On the day of the final event, the tablets, software, and session went off without a hitch. Participants loved seeing the live results being broadcast to the large projections, and the moderator was able to seamlessly steer conversation given instant feedback from the participants. 

The final system with it’s simple front end, instantly customizable CMS, and powerful conference management tools can quickly be adapted to any content or conference. The global timeline, discussion topics, and static slides can all be updated within minutes allowing for the rapid creation and iteration of future conference sessions. As the tablets were being loaded back into their charging cases, the client  already began discussions with the translation team to set up a session for the next conference occurring only two months away in Japan.

  • Completed system design for 230 total connected devices across 5 device types
  • Designed instantaneous show control with configurable real time
  • Architected swappable content CMS for future regionalization
  • Complete experience designed and developed within 3 months