Partopia is a service and digital design that seeks to enhance connectedness for remote and physical attendees of hybrid events


May- June 2022

My Role

UX / UI Designer

What I did
  • UX / UI design
  • Service Design
  • Experience Prototyping
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Usability Testing
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Role Playing
  • Qualitative Analysis
The Team
  • Adaeze Chuckwu
  • Jinyu Wu
  • Tianjiao Wang


Problem Space

Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still experiencing a shift in how we experience meaningful interactions such as parties and informal events. Now we see a rise in hybrid parties, where people are physically present at one place, and others join from another location via video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Teams, and the rest.

However, this dichotomy has created instances where participants feel a:


Lack of connection and engagement


Inability to experience memories, significant moments, and moments of climax


Design Challenge

Hence, we sought to explore:

How might we enhance connectedness for remote and physical attendees of hybrid events?


Partopia provides connected hybrid experiences

We designed Partopia as a service and mobile application to make the planning of hybrid events a stress-free experience from start to finish and the experience of attending hybrid events a collaborative and connected experience.

Personalized hybrid activities for the event

Partopia generates activities that are best suited for your event based on user's input such as preferences such as team size, event duration, theme, etc.

Interaction through collaboration

Activities provided by Partopia allow for interaction and meaningful collaboration. Physical and remote attendees would be paired together to perform an activity.

Memory creation and preservation

Partopia is focused on curating activities that create memorable experiences and allow users to revisit those experiences through a shared folder.



How do people experience hybrid events?

The issue of connectedness is a commonly shared experience. Hence, we wanted first to understand how the problem of connectedness manifests in hybrid parties, both personal and social.

We conducted semi-structured interviews with 5 people who had organized and planned hybrid parties. This was done to better understand their experiences with fostering a connection between remote and physical attendees before, during and after the party. Here is what we found 

Virtual participants feel like spectators rather than participants

Virtual participants often experience feelings of isolation and feel like they are "second-class" participants. Hence, they look for more ways to feel connected and engaged during events.

People who joined remotely kept dropping out of the call .. because they couldn’t follow along...
-Participant 1
I feel more connected when there is a memory attached
-Participant 3
Memory creation and preservation is a core determinant of connectedness

Attendees and hosts treasure memories by sharing the most important part of an event. Sharing memories is not only about sharing photos on social media. It is more about creating memorable moments that are shareable.


Making sense of the data

We took the findings from the interviews and began creating an affinity map to make sense of the data.  

 When constructing the affinity map, we developed a hybrid event planning workflow based on the participant's experiences. The workflow gave us an understanding of the process and stages that planners and attendees go through when engaging in hybrid settings. 


Within this workflow, the majority of our user's pain points were situated in the "event curation" stage of the workflow. 

In addition, most of the responses we gathered focused on experiences that occurred during workplace events. Hence we decided to focus on connectedness in workplace settings as a case study. 


In a company, who are the key stakeholders ?

After understanding the broader problem space, we began to narrow down and understand how the problem of connectedness manifests within work environments. We created two personas ( organizer and attendee ) to clarify our primary stakeholders and understand their goals, motivations, and frustrations.

One of the key characteristics of our personas was that they were frustrated with the lack of connection during these hybrid work events and are looking for ways to foster connectedness.


Understanding Key Scenarios

The team and I designed a customer journey map to understand the various touch points that both planners and attendees experience through their journey of planning and attending a hybrid event.


Design Principles

Based on our research and interview findings, we aimed to design around these three pillars to help bridge the gap of connectedness.

We also focused on human beings' "Be Goals" of social interaction and preservation of memorable moments.


How do we build connection between employees?

The team first devised 20 ideas to build connections with remote and physical participants. We used Miro to list our ideas on sticky notes and began to down-select. We down-selected our ideas based on feasibility, usability, and scalability.

After the ideation process of generating 20 ideas, we began to down select. We down-selected our ideas based on feasibility, usability, and scalability.


Creating for shared experiences

The first idea we came up with for Partopia is a service and digital solution. The digital solution incorporates a mobile app by which Partopia uses an AI algorithm to generate hybrid activities based on the event's needs, such as the number of remote and physical attendees, duration of the event, type of event, etc.

I led the design of the mobile screens.

Once an activity has been selected, Partopia ships curated "activity kits" related to the chosen activity to remote and physical attendees to create "shippable shared experiences." This is the service portion of our solution.


Role playing defined our key interactions

To test this concept, we decided to use role-playing to validate the idea. We recruited 3 participants to take the roles of an event planner ( manager ), a remote employee, and a physical employee. I co-led the design of an experience walkthrough. Below are images from the experience prototyping session.


The experience that was being prototyped is illustrated below:


Did participants feel connected?

We were testing the experience of receiving activity kits to create "shippable shared experiences" as well as the usability of our mobile application. Here are the findings that we uncovered with the prototype:

01. Shared experiences =! Connectedness

During the experience prototype, the activity selected was a painting activity where participants were required to paint the same image. They were both delivered packages with the same items.

We assumed that having "activity" kits would keep the experience consistent between remote and physical attendees, which it did. However, it did not create meaningful interaction and hence did not foster connectedness. 

02. Activities should be collaborative

Recommending activities is just not enough. To foster connectedness, the activities must be collaborative and engaging in nature. With our chosen activity, we did not create opportunities for collaboration. 

02. Activities should be collaborative

I also led the usability test process and documented the feedback as seen below:

02. Activities should be collaborative

We also modified our design principles to include "meaningful collaboration"


Our goal is to build connection, not create shared experiences

Usability testing and role-playing gave us actionable feedback on our designs.

The first change we did was to shift our focus from "event curation" to "event set-up" and focus on how we can establish connectedness during the event. Hence, we eliminated shipping "activity kits" and focused on creating engaging hybrid activities.


Creating engaging and interactive experiences

We focused on creating experiences with activities that force and nudge interactions and conversations among attendees and eventually create meaningful connections and bonding. I also worked on improving user flow of the mobile app interfaces. The designs were created on Figma.



Our revised concept for Partopia is an application that curates activities capable of connecting on-site and virtual attendees, merging the physical and remote experience.

Partopia can be used in any setting such as weddings, get-togethers, workplaces, etc. Collaborative and meaningful hybrid activities that enhance the connection are offered via the app, such as "Pic-It,"; a storytelling game.



I created a storyboard to explore the contexts and scenarios where attendees and organizers would utilize our hybrid activities. The activity demonstrated in the storyboard is "Pic-It."


Lean Canvas

Addressing the entire event planning process required us to design digital products and service implementation changes. We used a lean canvas model to think about delivering our design from an operational and business perspective.

Our high-level concept and value? We wanted to make the planning of hybrid events seamless. We also wanted to ensure that no participant feels disconnected from what should be a memorable experience. 


Key Takeaways

Test your assumptions

At the initial stage of the process, my team and I were convinced that our idea of "shippable shared experience" was the solution to tackling connectedness between remote and physical attendees.

However, it was not until we tested this assumption by conducting role-playing that we realized our hypothesis was wrong. Hence, it is essential as designers to remove any form of bias or preconceived idea but allow research and design to form our opinions.

Experiences beyond the digital screen should be considered

Often, designers who focus on creating digital products can be lost in the need to create experiences that are limited to the screen. However, with any solution, it is valuable for designers to focus on the holistic user experience that happens before and after users use an system.

From a business standpoint, using the lean canvas model and mapping out backstage and front stage interactions highlighted the importance of design beyond digital products.

Often times, designers who focus on creating digital products can be lost in the need to create experiences that are limited to the screen. However, with any solution it is valuable for users to focus on the holistic experience that happens before and after users use an application.

From a business standpoint, using the lean canvas model and mapping out backstage and front stage interactions highlighted the importance of design beyond digital products.

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Rahmat Raji
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