13 February 2014

Critique: Flowers and seeds

Today’s two posters are from Nicole Soper Gorden, who generously sent these forward. Here’s one of her old ones, which you can click to enlarge:

Nicole calls this poster “perfectly serviceable,” which is an assessment I agree with. She writes:

They have lots of pictures, but are still somewhat boring (and have lots of boxes!)... basically all of my old posters followed the same design, with the same background and color scheme, etc.

The design here is clear: three clean columns, with no ambiguity about what to read next. It is somewhat staid because of the boxes separating all the text, and the text is slightly dense in a couple of places.

About the next poster, which was made for the Ecological Society of America meeting, Nicole wrote:

I tried something completely new, hoping to draw a crowd.

I have to say that it did work as intended – I had a lot of people stop by my poster and say something along the lines of, “Your poster caught my attention from across the room – it‘s so pretty I had to know what it was about!” Yay for results.  :)
This is superb:

I love the big title in the big banner. You simply cannot miss it, which is critical in a big meeting. The Ecological Society of America is one of the bigger biology conferences out there, and the bigger the meeting, the bigger the title needs to be.

I also love the gently curved columns. The margins between make it clear that each one is a column, but the curves add some excellent visual interest. Curves are tricky to lay out, so not many people use them, and fewer use them well. Nicole obviously checked quite carefully to make the text follow the curves closely, so there are no jagged edges or gaps. The layout of the graphs is also very careful, so that they create the “corners about to pop the balloon” tension that I’ve notices in other posters trying to use circles and ovals.

The central column is meant to be read in three rows within the column. This could have been a disaster: changing the reading order can be confusing. The use of headings and dividing lines make the reading order clear.

Within the central column, I might have not used highlight boxes (e.g., the ones showing the highlighted values in the bottom two graphs), and just used the plain text against the blue background.

But while I might do a few things differently, there’s no doubt that this is an extremely well thought-out and beautiful poster. It certainly is an improvement over the one at the top.

Related posts

The eye loves the circle
Critique: Italian cemeteries
Critique: Bison dung fungus

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