10 October 2013

Invitating interaction

Today’s poster comes from Giovanni Dall’Olio. Click to enlarge...

Before I get to the critique and makeover, I want to point out the cool thing that Giovanni did: he invited interaction. Giovanni writes:
One peculiarity of this poster is that it uses an advanced technology to show a live feed of what people are saying about the poster, like in Twitter. It is inspired from a book called Gamestorming by James Macanufo.

This technological trick allowed me to get a lot of useful feedback from the people attending. After the conference, I have collected these comments, and copied them to a table, which you can see here.

But perhaps even more effective is the ultra-simple low tech invitation to interact with this poster. Giovanni left sticky notes with his poster, and created a labelled space so people could comment. And guess what? People used those spaces!

Best example of inviting involvement since this flipbook.

I think this is excellent, because it is the sort of thing that posters can do better than oral presentations. Giovanni created an opportunity for people to communicate with him that did not require his physical presence. When given an opportunity to express an opinion, people often will. It turns the poster into a participatory event rather than another thing to read passively.

Moving on to the poster itself, it is generally clean, but there are a few points for improvement.

This is one of the rare times I don’t mind the boxes, in part because the boxes here are subtle, with light lines, ensuring that the reader goes in rows. Still, the title and bottom don’t need those boxes to clarify the reading order:

I got rid of the boxes entirely, but the spacing between the text didn’t seem to mark the rows out as well, so I tried thin lines between sections in place of the boxes.

Also got rid of the shadowed text in the title and heading. The letterforms are cleaner and easier to read now.

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Anonymous said...
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dalloliogm said...

Thank you for reviewing my poster! I am glad that you liked the idea of the post-its.

A few notes more on this poster:

- The post-it thing requires some active effort in order to get started. The best is to ask some friends to come to your poster at the beginning of the session, and post the first notes. When other people see that there are already many post-its attached to the poster, they feel more confident to contribute.

- To get many notes, you have to actively ask people to do it. In my case I prepared a short 5-minutes talk to explain the poster, which I kept repeating the whole poster session. After the speech, and after answering questions, I told the listener that I was doing a little "experiment", or "game", and if they wanted to participate by attaching a post-it to the feedback area.

- People may get displeased if they are not able to come up with a question to post. When you ask them to put a note on the poster, you are putting them under pressure: they may come from different backgrounds, you have just explained them your whole project in 5 minutes, and they may not have any idea about what you are presenting.

Thus, you have to help them criticizing your poster. One possibility is to suggest them to write down any question they may have asked during your speech ("you don't have any idea of what to put on the post-it? But you asked me a very important question before, about ...., why don't you write it on the poster?)

- The "Other Comments" section was very important. In the end, people used it to post comments on how to improve the graphical aspect of the poster (remove the shadowing of the title, simplify the text, etc...). Thus, people who didn't have any clue on what to criticize about the contents of the poster, could still make some suggestions about how to improve the design.

- another advantage of this poster is that the title is large, so people can read it from a larger distance. The shadowing thing was a bad idea, but still, the fact that the fonts were large, and the the university logo was at the bottom, helped me a lot.