Friday, February 5, 2016

Let's talk about t-shirts

There's probably very few topics while organizing this conference we've had as much discussion and wonder as on a seemingly simple task of t-shirts. Since we use this blog to share stuff conference organizing around European Testing Conference teaches us, this a must share lesson.

Have you even been to a conference that hands out shirts, where all the shirts are same model but just different sizes? There's a concept of "unisex" shirt, which basically means that everyone gets to wear a t-shirt designed for men.

I've received during my career probably about 100 conference / event shirts, and very few of them stick. The fact that they are men's shirts has always meant that I pick up one, and give it as a souvenir to one of my relatives, or enjoy the cleaning opportunities with a new rag. Out of these shirts, there's two I have used at or after the conference: the TestBash t-shirt (fitted for women!) and the fitted long-sleeved shirt one of my employers got me that was my absolute favorite for a long time.

Think of it this way. If you are a man and arrive at European Testing Conference next week, how happy you'd be when we hand you a women's fitted model? We thought you wouldn't be, so we've been using a lot of time on back and forth on trying to think what we'd like to give as choice for people.

Last year at Agile 2016, this whole issue of t-shirts became very clear to me. I was given a "women's shirt", that was that only by a name. The poor conference organizers were puzzled on the discussion, after all their t-shirt vendor had told them the model they had was women's. It was only smaller in sizing, not fitted as a women's shirt would be. With European Testing Conference, we heard exactly the same with t-shirt vendors, and going around to find just the right model is actually a lot of work.  It's so easy to get the wrong one even if you tried.

Not everyone, regardless of gender will ever care about the t-shirt. We ended up with different image designs for the men's and women's, and some feel strongly that wouldn't be right either. But let's say it this way: I'd rather not have a graphic element on both sides of my chest, that works in men's but not so much on women's version.

Conference t-shirt is a successful investment if people wear it after the conference, and it starts good discussions that perhaps lead to people discovering the conference. We'll see how this works out, but it surely is an experiment that takes a bit of effort where everyone is an expert on people they've been in touch with. Now, fingers crossed our shirts arrive in time, and we don't have to ship them around after the conference.

A Community Marketing Experiment