Trade Show Exhibit Design: 15 Questions to Inspire a Perfect Collaboration

trade show exhibit design


Often, the hardest part of getting a winning trade show exhibit design ready is scheduling all the meetings it takes to keep everyone feeling like they’re in the loop. This can slow the process significantly, ultimately costing unnecessary budget space–not to mention energy.

At Exhibits NW, we find that the best way to avoid such a fate is to have open, free communication between an exhibit’s lead designer and the client’s decision maker. Then, when it’s time to schedule a broader meeting to brief the whole team, those two individuals can act as one, thereby eliminating at least one variable.

Now, during–or even before–those early talks between designer and client, it is immensely helpful to have the client’s answers to all or most of the fifteen questions about the trade show exhibit design process below. This both reduces the need to check in with each other in the first place, and lends some order and direction to the conversations that do happen. Which questions are most important changes on a case-by-case basis so, in no particular order…

15 Questions to Ask During Your Trade Show Exhibit Design Process



1. Does your company have branding guidelines/logo or graphic files/website address? Can you share these files?

2. What size is the exhibit? Do you plan to reconfigure the exhibit for other shows? If so, what sizes?  Knowing this will guide both the design and the choice of materials.

3. What is the budget? This is essential. Still undecided about an exact budget? The next best option is a workable budget range. No exhibitor wants to be surprised with a beautiful booth outside their budget or underwhelmed by a booth designed for a lower budget.

4. Do you want to purchase or rent? Or a combination of both? This assists the designer in choosing material and designing to a specific budget.

5. What physical properties does the exhibit need to have? For example, workstations, counters, slatwall, semi-private or private conference area, monitors, storage, etc? This information allows the designer to create a functional trade show design.

6. What type of display have you used in the past? Are you looking for something similar or different? What did you like or not like about the previous booth?

7. Are there any materials or construction methods you prefer? Are you looking for something similar or different? Many experienced exhibitors have a strong attraction or aversion to specific materials.

8. Are there any unusual dimensional restrictions? Can you provide show regulations? Some shows have unusual restrictions for the height of the booth or setbacks from the aisle.

9. Do you show product(s)? What are the dimensions and specifications? How do you prefer to show the products? Display cases, counter top, shelves, hooks, etc.?

10. Does the display need to be portable or modular? Does it need to ship via FedEx or UPS or are you OK with packing in custom crates? This will guide our use of materials.

11. Who will assemble the display:  show labor or your own team? We have great solutions for both scenarios.

12. Do you have any images of design elements you like? Even if these “inspiration images” are not trade show related, they are very helpful. For example, architectural elements, finishes, colors, natural elements, retail environments, etc.

13. Design Due Date? Typically, designs are completed within a few business days. However, every project and every client has their own timeline. We do our best to accommodate requested timelines.

14. Show Opening Date? So very important! Creating the design and them building it depends on the time frame. Designers can make material selections which will go a long way toward meeting a three-week vs. a three-month window.

15. Are there any descriptive words you use to describe your company? What do you want visitors to your booth to “feel” about your company? From “opulent” to “bad-ass,” we have heard some interesting descriptors, and this gives the designer the insight to craft a personalized, experiential space.

We hope you find these questions about trade show exhibit design helpful! If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask.