It All Starts With Ideation

And I mean that quite literally.  In the early Spring of 2012, our team was working with our good friend, Charles Lee of the Ideation Consultancy, on some web development for their upcoming Ideation Conference, a gathering of organizations that stand for social good.  As we were brainstorming, the idea of building a conference mobile application came up, and of course, without any hesitation, we jumped head first into this endeavor with only a few simple goals: first, the event app needed to look great, and second, the app needed to be useful for conference-goers.

Now since this was before big conference app platforms were mainstream, our team was faced with the problem (or opportunity) of achieving these goals with no other template to follow, and what we developed is still largely in the spirit of Vokol today.

A clean menu design was important in looking slick, keeping Ideation Conference’s branding, and making it easy to navigate

We wanted the application to be more than just a print replacement, so we built an in-app networking feature

The Willow Creek Moment

Every organization has a watershed moment where their fortunes are steered towards the greater good, and for Vokol, it just happened to be a Willow Creek moment.  Impressed with both our Ideation Conference app and how quickly we were able to produce it, Willow Creek Association agreed to use our conference platform for their 2013 Global Leadership Summit.

With a short window for development and an all new brand refresh, we pushed hard to build the next version of our conference platform and that summer, we hit a remarkable 60% active user rate – nearly 50,000 people in a few hours!  We had never seen usage saturation of an event application that high before (we were still a young company then), and what this told us was that we were onto something with our app platform.  We had landed the elusive dream of every entrepreneur: building something useful.




Refining With CCDA

Armed with the energy and motivation that the Vokol app had legs, our next big refinement came as we tried to solve the biggest problem that we heard from our clients over and over, especially with our next big project for the Christian Community Development Association.  Their biggest question at the time was “How do we get a conference application to reflect their branding well?”

Now that question in and of itself, wasn’t too exciting for us, because we could easily have done a custom build for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but our (genius) answer was in response to a slightly more nuanced question: “How do you do a custom design affordably?” – especially since a core part of our mission was to serve social impact organizations (a more cost-sensitive audience).

Enter Google’s Material Design.  Inspired by the guidelines set forth by the pioneering Google design team, we decided to take a math and theory based approach to building our own Vokol design framework, rebuilding our iOS and Android clients to reflect these principles dynamically.  This meant that with a few clicks of a button, we could programmatically generate color palettes, deliver type hierarchy, and process graphic imagery.  Throw in a brilliant new graphic designer, and we had a system that could affordably deliver a beautifully designed custom application for nearly every brand we would ever encounter.

Scaling The Dream

Fast forward a few years to today, having many more conferences under our belt and plenty of refinements to our processes (all of which we hope to share in the coming months), we are poised to take on the challenge of scaling our services – and not just because we want to grow our business, but ultimately, because all of this means something more to us.

For every conference app we’ve produced, we’ve had the remarkable opportunity to partner closely with the real workers on the ground.  It’s these working relationships we’ve built over the years that really show us how our work has had real, tangible social impact for the communities our clients are a part of.  

We love making beautiful things, not just for ourselves, but for our clients as well.  And as much as we think our conference applications reflect a greater visual artistry, the real beauty for us is in the work of our client partners that we are privileged to help foster, improve, and ultimately flourish.  

We hope you choose to partner with us in building beautiful dreams together.

Isaac Park
Co-Founder, Vokol