On the Design of Conference Badges

After receiving two duplicate badges at the 2011 SDN conference in San Francisco, I spent the better part of my first day in Stockholm without any conference badge at all. After a few unsuccessful attempts to correct this problem one of the conference organizers finally scrawled a hand-written badge.

It’s an interesting contrast because the printed badges have incredibly tiny type for an object this size. Mine you can read from across the room.

I’ve written before about the futility of critiquing service design conferences as services themselves. They’re an easy target, and the irony is overwhelmingly tempting but when the venue keeps changing every year and the events happen so infrequently it’s tough to iterate the experience itself. But the individual touchpoints you can iterate. Certainly over seven years. Here’s a great post by Michael Lopp on the spectrum of conference badges he’s encountered throughout his career.

My recommendation for SDN is to make the attendee names bigger. That’s what the badges are for. Also, we already know where we are. There’s no operational need to devote half the badge to the conference identity, the date or the location. The color coding is great, the lanyard is functional and the stamps for special interest groups are a fun idea. Just make the attendee names bigger.

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