Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lessons from exhibit halls: part 1

These are the last of my photos from my Chicago trip in May to the American Association of Museums annual conference. Exhibit halls, especially one this size (over 1,000 booth spaces) are a microcosm of experience design. Let's take a look at some successful ones.

In a big hall with so much visual stimulation, booths have to have a clean, simple, clear message from quite a distance away. This one features incredibly life-like mannequins. (The woman in the blue shirt is real.) My suggestions to improve this booth: Cover the entire back of the booth with black. Skirt the table in black. Simplify the sign by removing 2/3 of the text. Let the figures speak for themselves, as they are compelling. Provide simple, clean takeaway literature.

This is a nice example of clean graphics tied in with a themed giveaway (packets of wasabi peas). Just make sure your giveaway (if it gets home), really carries your core message.

People give away lots of junk in exhibit halls. These were fun ribbons you could add to your name badge, with sayings like "cool scientist" and "rock on." Again, just make sure your giveaway carries your core message once people leave the booth.

This booth for exhibit riggers/fine art installers Methods and Materials was my favorite. The booth actually told a story of "installation" and the guys working it were essentially in costume. I walked away knowing what they did, and that they are creative and pay attention to detail.

Tips of the day: Design your booth from 50 feet away. Create the entire space; don't depend on the backdrop that is given you. Theme everything, but keep it simple. Giveaways need to work once they leave the exhibit hall.

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