I go to a lot of conferences. A lot. And frankly, I’m sick and tired of all the bad nametag design that I see — even, or I should say especially, at DESIGN conferences. Here the major problems:
- Tiny type. Type sizes that are easy to read on a screen or on a printout that you’re holding can be completely illegible in the common conference scenario of viewing a nametag from several feet away (and often sideways).
- Poor foreground/background contrast. I was at a conference a couple weeks back where my nametag was royal blue with black type. I doubt anyone could read it.
- Poor information design. The most important pieces of information on a nametag are the attendee’s first name, company, and last name. In. that. order. And yet, most nametags neglect to create any sort of typographical hierarchy. As a reminder, we have different type sizes for a reason.
- Confusing status indicators. At the conference where I had the blue nametag, others’ name tags were either yellow or white. And some of the white nametags had red dots on them. What did it all mean?? It felt like there was some secret class system that only the conference organizers knew about.
- An over abundance of logos. The front of the nametags at one design conference I recently attended were half — yes half! — covered in sponsor logos. The extreme clutter made it difficult to focus on any single piece of information.
- One-sided nametags. Every double-sided nametag I’ve seen has the attendee’s name on the front and other information (or nothing) on the back. And yet many lanyards allow for easy nametag flipping throughout the day, causing the attendee’s name to face his/her shirt instead of other attendees’ eyes.
These problems produce a variety of awkward interactions between attendees: