No detail is too small when it comes to planning your conference, and that attention to detail includes your abstract management system. One of the benefits that an abstract management system provides is that it can be configured to match your conference’s needs. This flexibility allows you to create an easy submission process for your conference, a review system based on your own criteria, and the ability to build reports that track your submitters’ progress. But before you can open your call for papers, there is one final step you need to plan on: testing the site.
When you test your collection site, the goal is to discover any trouble spots in your process before you begin accepting live submissions. Fixing issues before your site opens is much easier than addressing them after you’ve received submissions.
It’s a safe bet that a submitter will manage to use the system in a way that you wouldn’t have guessed. So rather than try to imagine every possibility on your own, it’s a good idea to recruit others to help you go through the site, step-by-step. You’ll want to enlist the help of a diverse set of people that match the age range and technical skill level of your typical submitter.
Here are three things to keep in mind when pulling together a diverse team of collection site testers:
Recruit some testers from within your association
The easiest place to find people willing to help test your collection process is from within your organization. Your co-workers have a built-in incentive to make sure your conference attracts the best educational materials possible. Choosing testers that are invested in the outcome can help ensure a thorough run through of your site.
There is another benefit to choosing people from within the organization: these staff members will become familiar with the process and can teach other co-workers how to use the system. Some may even be comfortable offering technical support once the site opens to submitters.
Recruit some testers from outside of your association
It’s important that some portion of your testing takes place outside of your association’s building, so don’t be afraid to enroll people from outside of your organization in the testing process, as well. Not only will this expand your testers’ demographics, it will also expand the geography of your tests. Asking friends and family to help test the site using their home internet connection provides a real-life user scenario that can point out any issues that arise.
Recruit some testers that are unfamiliar with your industry
Another important reason to pick someone from outside of your association is to make sure your submission process is intuitive. If someone with no experience with abstracts or paper collection can figure out what they need to do, and in which order, you can feel confident that your process will run smoothly.
Be sure your testing team represents a variety of ages and technical know-how. An easy way to incorporate diversity in your site testers is to choose them from diverse sources. While you definitely want to include some of your co-workers in the process, there is an advantage to also including people that do not work for your association. Taking these extra steps to build a diverse testing team before your site opens will help ensure a good experience when your call for papers opens.