With more competition coming from online alternatives such as Alibaba, what unique value do tradeshows provide and what are the opportunities ot accentuate them? The Aggregator, the result of a project initiated by the Chicago Tradeshow Alliance, was our chance to find out.

We started by visiting trade shows in Chicago. We noticed that people were going to trade shows for two primary reasons: to run into things that they weren’t expecting and to have face to face interactions with people they wanted to do work with. We also noticed that people often left shows without having any clear next steps.

Through these visits we also saw that the greatest opportunities were in trade shows with the most growth potential: business to business shows for small to medium size businesses with high touch products.

As we moved into synthesis, we recognized that the types of activities participants engaged in could be categorized by the distinct phases of the trade show experience: preparation before the show, activities during the show, and the follow up afterwards.

We developed the hypothesis that tradeshows could flourish given that they focus on what they’ve been good at and compensate for what they haven’t. This gave us three goals for us to help our users achieve:

These three user goals eventually translated into the three primary modes of our application.

With rapid, successive rounds of prototyping and user testing, we were able to finalize a concept that was presented to both trade show organizers and members of the Chicago design community.

The final design focused on helping users transition from their preperation for the tradeshow, through the tradeshow itself, and finally with follow up afterwards.

The focus of the visual design was to use a card format with progressively more functionality as users' relationships with the people they met became more intimate.

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