Hobby conferences and fan conventions need name badges. You need a quick, easy way to ensure that nobody who shouldn't be present is on site, and for security and insurance purposes you need to know who did and didn't turn up. They present some design challenges, though: what can you do to ensure that your convention badge is as helpful and usable as possible? 

Arguably the most important element of a con badge is also the simplest: the member's name. This helps you as the organisers keep track of who is and isn't on site, and helps attendees remember the names of the people they've met. There are two main things you need to bear in mind when deciding how best to display a name:

  • No badge ever stays still when it's on a lanyard, and they get turned around all the time despite the best efforts of the wearer. It's a good idea to print your badges double-sided, so that the name remains visible no matter which way round the badge hangs. You can also design badges that attach to the lanyard at two points--one on each side rather than just one in the middle--but this can push up costs, especially as standard conference lanyards aren't designed to be used that way.
  • Names are massively variable in length, and you're going to need to find a layout and printing system that keeps even longer names clear and legible. The best way to do this is usually to print everyone's first and second names on separate lines and vary your font sizes depending on how long those names are, as seen here.

It's becoming increasingly popular to fill con badges with useful information: the member's personal schedule, a map of the venue, times of major events. This isn't inherently a bad idea, but it has some pitfalls; too much data on the back of a badge can be difficult to read, and it often means you lose the ability to print a name on the back. For most events, it's better to stick to the basics on the badge and ensure that you've got a great welcome pack for every delegate that tells them everything they need to know--as well as general schedules displayed prominently in high-traffic areas. There are exceptions to this, however. If you've got the time, money and expertise to pull it off, take a look at this inspiring design from Facebook's 2011 developer conference--everything you could possibly want, all in one convenient place!

Badge design is only a small part of what you need to do to hold a great event, but it's important that you don't skimp on it. A great badge can help things go more smoothly for both you and your attendees, so put a little thought into how you put your badge design together.