03 January 2013

Critique: Privacy

Today’s contribution comes from Dave Wilson at the University of Arizona, and is used with his permission. It was presented at the International Conference on Information Systems in Orlando as a “research in progress” poster. This meeting has a quite good set of tips on presentation.

You can click to enlarge:

I love a lot about this poster. It’s got a sleek style, with a bit of an Apple aesthetic mixed with Colin Purrington’s style in this poster. Whether deliberately or no, it follows his recommendation of putting all the fine print in a band at the bottom

My main concern here is the choice of the grey steel background. Even in good light, on my computer screen, the contrast between the text (set in a beautiful, but thin, font) and the background is making this a bit difficult to read. This poster also has a substantial amount of text. Even light, well set blocks of text, as on this poster, tend to look grey from a distance, making this even darker.

I believe this conference was held in a Marriott hotel. Hotels often have dim lighting in their ballrooms where posters are set up. Regardless, any venue with low lighting will turn the text to mud, and make it hard to read. A lighter shade of grey would give a higher margin of safety for low light conditions.
 The use of a white background on the bottom also highlights the band at the bottom, though, which  contains the “fine print.” The metallic grey that covers most of the poster text above could have been brought down to cover the text below.

As a quick and dirty example of what I have in mind, here’s a revision done with a little mucking about in Corel Photo-Paint.

While I like some of what happens with that change, the downside is that the central figure does become less prominent. In the original, the grey background does mean the central figure pops out at you immediately. The handwritten look for the figure is appearing, and makes an attractive entry point for the passers-by. In the revision, the diagram doesn’t stand out anywhere near as much. That might be helped by a little shadowing around the figure.

Poster making, like life, is often about trade-offs. If you want to make people notice that central figure, and you are there to present the poster most of the time, you might want the original version of the poster. If you were not there to present your poster, and more of the story is in the text that people will have to read, the revision might be more appealing.

1 comment:

Bronwyn said...

The colour used for the bottom band also depends on the wall onto which it will be fixed. On a white background that bottom band sinks away very satisfactorily in its original white. Making it dark actually emphasises it.