09 February 2012

Critique: Trucks

This came to me from author and doctoral student Gurdas Sandhu, and is posted with his permission. You can click to enlarge...

There’s a lot in this poster I like. The truck pictures make for a good entry point and the colour schemes, particularly in the section heads, are attractive.

I worry about it being a little text heavy. The text is certainly big enough to be easily readable, but one last, ruthless edit of the text to shorten it might pay off.

The intstitutional logo has plenty of space, but the vertical alignment is awkward. I might have been better to align all three elements – the institutional logo, the title, and the truck – in the middle of the title box, rather than at the top. Alternately, the title could have been left aligned, with the truck picture right aligned, withe the logo underneath it.

Similarly, the tables are not inviting for the same reason the text is not inviting: big blocks of gray. I can see the reason for Table 1, but surely there is a way to plot the data in Tables 2 and 3. I would get rid of the vertical lines in the tables to open them up. Printed journals never use vertical lines in tables, and usually there are a mere three horizontal lines: top, under the section head, bottom.

The figure backgrounds in Figures 3-5 might benefit if match the light red background of the page. This could be accomplished by making the background transparent. This is particularly true for the bar graphs in Figure 5. For reasons I can’t quite articulate, the white background in Figures 3 and 4 don’t bother me as much.

Speaking of Figure 5, the colours in those bars on the right don’t match anything else in the poster. You would expect the two bar graphs to feature the same colours. I would just make them match the bars on the left graph in Figure 5.

Figure 5 has unlabelled error bars. Error bars can mean many things, so a note in the figure caption or adding (+SD) in the vertical axis label would take care of this. (In email, Gurdas confirmed to me that the error bars are confidence intervals.)


Gurdas said...

Zen, thank you for the critique. Very useful.

I am hoping I can get further advice from your readers. Some thoughts follow:

1. The poster was set to my university colors. The background is actually a warm grey and prints very nice, without any hint of red.

2. Text Heavy? Yes. Next time, I am aiming for at least 25% less text.

3. Title bar arrangement. I had the same uneasy feeling about the vertical alignment. It looked fine in print, though. And, I agree that title left justified and logos on right might look better. Will try it for my next poster.

4. Table 2 and 3. Are unsightly! I thought hard but could not come up with one image per table to convey all the information in that table. Can someone help?

5. Background for Fig. 3,4, and 5. I tried Fig. 3 and 4 with same background color as poster background. But, they looked better with white background! So, your hard to articulate design sense about those two figures is actually correct. I did not try that same thing for Fig. 5 and after the poster was printed, I knew Fig. 5 would've looked better without that white background. Next time ...

6. Color for bar graph on the right in Fig. 5. This was a university secondary color. I should have used the dark grey from section heads. Wouldn't dark grey looked better than red? Having both graphs in same color makes me uneasy. Why?

6. Down arrows in Fig 2. Not sure what you mean. The down arrows are there because it is a process that flows in that order. And, there are 8-steps so each arrow was numbered. Would appreciate feedback on know how to improve this graphic.

Reylan | Labor Posters said...

Any tutorials and tips how to make a nice template will be accepted.

anshuman said...

A legible distinction of symbols are always achieved by demarketing the prints with that to the paper color.

printing of posters