How the best interactive event booths apply UX thinking
At every trade show and industry convention, there’s always a booth or two that attracts the biggest crowds and generates the most buzz. While their techniques for success might vary, there are two things I can tell you for sure about every one of these knockout booths:
- They’re interactive
- They’re designed for optimal user experience
Most people think about user experience—a.k.a., UX—with relation to websites or mobile apps. But booth visitors have many of the same needs and priorities as technology users, so an interactive event booth benefits from strategies similar to UX design.
Here’s how interactivity and a UX-style approach combine to make your event booth a brand-building, visitor-engaging, lead-generating success.
INTERACTIVITY = STAYING POWER
With as many as 1000 booths at an event, visitors end up ignoring many of them. Maybe even most of them.
To draw crowds and generate leads, you need both stopping power and staying power:
- Stopping power. Anything that makes people say Hey, what’s that?
- Staying power. Turn a few seconds of brand exposure into 15 minutes of engagement.
You can employ all kinds of creative technology to give your booth stopping power. But to keep the crowds around long enough to get your message and connect with your sales team, you need to give them cool stuff to do.
Do—not just see.
Research shows people retain more information from “hands on” experiences than they do from more passive experiences. And studies show interactive content generates conversions twice as well as passive content.
http://www.ioninteractive.com/news/2014/6/16/new-research-shows-interactive-content-is-key-to-That booth that draws the crowds? It’s like a children’s museum. Visitors are touching things. Doing things. Laughing. It’s full of surprise and delight—with lots of stuff that event visitors really enjoy doing.
But creating an interactive visitor experience is one thing. Optimizing it is another.
HOW IS THE BOOTH EXPERIENCE LIKE UX?
Your booth isn’t that different from a website or a mobile app. Like a UX-optimized device, the right booth design helps people stay longer and do more, by making sure:
- It’s easy for visitors to navigate their way from one content source to another.
- Features are clearly identified and simple to use, with little or no instruction.
- There’s just enough information and stimulation to keep people engaged, without overwhelming them.
- Visitors aren’t frustrated by congestion, distraction or dead-ends.
That’s why websites and mobile apps make UX optimization a priority—and why your booth design should adopt many of the same ideas.
HOW TO OPTIMIZE “EVENT BOOTH UX”
Questions to ask—and guidelines to follow—when designing your next booth:
Points of entry
- Do visitors feel they’re welcome?
- Is there a gatekeeper? A reception desk can block the inner booth, and make visitors feel like they need an invitation.
- What prompts visitors to come in and get involved?
- Where do you want people to go next?
- What do you want them to do?
- How can your booth’s structures and signage guide them?
- Do your screens make viewers face a wall? Try suspending displays in open space, like de facto dividers that define space within your booth.
- Or, look into transparent video screens, which help your team members engage visitors while they’re watching.
- Is there a “lounge” space within your booth for visitors to collect their thoughts, or have a quiet conversation?
- Don’t just scan badges without offering something in return—a handout, a free service, a poll, or an invite to a game. Getting data should be seamless. If it’s hard, there’s something wrong with your plan.
An interactive booth will always outperform a passive booth. And with an optimized experience based on UX principles, your booth will draw the crowds, build the buzz and deliver the results you need.
Want to transform your next trade show? Learn more secrets of the most successful booths in our FREE E-BOOK: The 7 Secrets of Awe-Inspiring Events
As the Executive Producer for StudioNorth, Eric is responsible for most things that move or make noise (video, audio and live events). Outside of work, Eric spends as much time as he can fishing and hunting, where he tries not to move or make noise.