a2z® floor plan review
Pros Handles complex maps, widely used, covers basics, a good show planner
Cons Maps look untidy. Mobile version is much weaker than desktop. On mobile, you can’t click on a booth to display more details. Some maps look much worse than the showcased example.
Verdict Average. You’d be better served by using ExpoFP or even MapYourShow®.
a2z® is probably the largest floor plan provider today. It seems like its sales team is second to none, but the floor plans themselves are unimpressive. For this review, we use their floor plan for the Hotel Experience 2018 expo which will take place in New York November 11-12, 2018.
The reviewed plan is one of the better ones from a2z®. Others like this from the 2018 National Stationery Show® not only looks messy, but, for unknown reasons, does not show exhibitor names for the booths.
1 Mobile usability (Score: 2 out of 5)
a2z® cuts corners in its graphical display by rendering the original drawing of the venue floor plan as the background instead of digitally recreating it. This results in an untidy look when drawing elements overlap with the booths. Esthetic concerns aside, it makes reading exhibitor names difficult. To read off company names, you have to zoom in very closely. That issue is not unique to a2z® — it is a problem for all old-school floor plan providers. Apart from the these annoyances, the map scrolls and zooms on mobile devices as expected. Overall, the usability of a2z® on mobile devices is average.
Clicking an occupied booth on your phone (as opposed on the desktop) does not bring up exhibitor details. Instead, it just pops up a tiny window with the company name. All other competitors display all company details when you click on a booth. For a2z®, this is an inexcusable feature omission.
2 Desktop usability (Score: 4 out of 5)
Again, other than the messy look because of the background drawing, the map functions well. It zooms and scrolls fast. However, the position of the expo logo in the bottom right corner is counter-intuitive because this area is most commonly reserved for ads. Some attendees may have difficulties finding their way to the main site.
3 How easy to find an exhibitor (Score: 3 out of 5)
There’s no interactive search for finding an exhibitor — you have to hit Enter for results to show up. This is a significant disadvantage when you do not know how the company name is spelled precisely.
Once found, the exhibitor is clearly marked on the map. The interface is just too busy, but it gets the job done.
It is somewhat confusing to users that there are two seemingly redundant ways to search for an exhibitor — through Exhibitor List button and through Search button. But, users ultimately find what they are looking for.
4 Search by categories (Score: 3 out of 5)
You can select multiple categories in the “Advanced Search” section which is a plus:
But, search results do not show the categories you’ve selected on the previous step:
As expected, the search results page on the desktop returns the matched exhibitors. But, the matched keywords are not highlighted. As on the desktop, multiple search results are clearly marked, but again, there is no way to see what you are actually searching for.
5 Exhibitor details (Score: 2 out of 5)
Exhibitor profiles contain basic company information. The problem is that, on mobile, you cannot get to it by simply clicking the booth on the floor plan. Also, exhibitor details do not include the booth’s map location, and clicking on a booth number does not help. And the shadow in the font behind company name — that was fashionable in the nineties, but now it just makes your eyes hurt.
6 Allowing exhibitors to see available booths (Score: 4 out of 5)
While there are no dedicated controls to search for available booths — they are clearly marked in blue on the floor plan.
7 Planning the expo visit (Score: 4 out of 5)
The stars next to companies make it easy to bookmark a company. A minor glitch is that if a company is “featured,” it is shown twice in the search results like “Dantona Industries” and “Club Car” below. Also we had some other random booth selected on the map for unknown reasons. Overall, we liked the simplicity in how show planning is done in a2z®.
a2z® floor plans are somewhat middle-of-the-road when compared to its competitors. a2z® covers the basic functionality, however cumbersome. If, for some reason, you cannot get a floor plan from ExpoFP, you’d may be better served by going with MapYourShow® instead of a2z®.