The search is over. Many have heroically tried. But a decisive winner has emerged.

Behold! the most elegant and usable conference badge design ever:


This badge is from The Web and Beyond 2010, held in Amsterdam two weeks ago, where I spoke and saw many excellent sessions.

Let me explain the mechanics of this great design:

Lanyard: The lanyard is nothing special — a branded ribbon with a simple clasp at the end. As far as I’m concerned, the lanyard is interchangeable. Irrelevant, in fact: you could use a metal chain, a hemp rope, whatever. That’s part of the awesomeness of this design.

Graphics: The first name is big so you can say “Hi Christopher”, and the last name and company/affiliation is a little smaller. The same information is printed on both sides. I imagine the text could be a little bigger all around for readability’s sake.


Booklet: Here’s where it gets really clever: The “name tag” is actually the cover of a little booklet. The booklet’s cover, as you can see in the picture, is printed upside-down from the contents of the booklet itself, so that the badge wearer can flip the book up to read the contents. The lanyard attaches to the booklet using “loop staples“, the same staples that hold the book together, thus requiring no additional hardware and, even better, no plastic sleeve. I’ve seen plenty of attempts to make badges with little pockets for holding a conference booklet, but this unified solution blows those ideas away.
It doesn’t hurt that the 35-page booklet contained great facilities maps, a full schedule, and biographies and photos of all the speakers. The covers were color-coded, too, with different colors for attendees, speakers, and staff.

Of course, not every conference can afford all of the bells and whistles on display with this badge design, but it’s easy to see how the basic principle — a book on a hook — can work for smaller budgets. For example, the custom-printed attendee-name covers could simply be blanks on which stickers are affixed. The booklets could be briefer, focusing on just the schedule, for example.

Conference organizers: Please steal this idea!