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Thought Leadership

Innovating Conference Nametag Visibility

Robert Rouse
AuthorRobert Rouse

During last year’s Tableau Conference, a notable issue emerged: the nametags provided were difficult to read. Faced with the option of either echoing the widespread complaints or seeking a solution, I chose a problem-solving approach that led to innovative results.

Here’s how the process unfolded:

1. Identify and clearly define the problem

The purpose of a nametag is to help people “see and understand” how to address you at the conference. Small lettering is hard for everyone to read, and even harder for people with failing eyesight. Plus, names placed low on the chest lead to the awkward “conference stare” when greeting others. These problems are common across many events.

2. Create and test a simple prototype

If the main problem is that names are too small, the solution is to make them bigger. I bought a label maker to stick big-letter names on top of the badge. I had a ton of fun passing these out and you can read about it here.

3. Identify the next set of problems to solve

The idea worked well, but we quickly found that the security team objected to my modifications. It no longer looked like the official nametags, so it took them longer to verify authenticity. This solution also didn’t address the “conference stare.”

4. Create a new version and test it

I asked our Production Team at Action to make a t-shirt that serves a similar purpose as a conference nametag. They made two versions, pictured below.

Things I like about this solution:

✅ Large, readable name
✅ Name is higher on the chest, reducing “conference stare” awkwardness
✅ Eliminates quality risks from 3rd-party designers
✅ Customizable QR code leading to a site of your choice
✅ Typical conference lanyards will not obscure the main features

5. Repeat Steps 3 & 4 within time and budget constraints

The conference nametag t-shirts are being tested right now at Data Universe 2024. If you’re at the conference and see me wearing one, come up and say “hi.”

After the conference test-run, we’ll see how it goes and if we need to make any improvements.

Me on my way to Day 2 of Data Universe 2024, modeling my new conference shirt in Times Square. I went with the one that resembles a blue pill because it feels more… discrete (thanks, I’ll see myself out).

[Also, look for me and other Actionauts sporting our unique nametag t-shirts at Tableau Conference 2024 in San Diego, April 29-May 1.]