21 May 2015

Critique: The final four

It’s long past March, but poster design knows no season! This week’s poster comes from author Cameron Fuqua, and is used with permission. Click to enlarge!

In a reversal of the norm, the tables – usually one of the things I like least on a poster – are one of the best things on this one. The tables avoid the “data prison” problem: that is, too many lines encasing each cell. The colour banding to distinguish rows is subtle. The gradient fills provide a little emphasis for each cell, but are not distracting. The silver gradient fills for the text boxes are also well done, providing some visual interest that is not distracting.

I wish that aesthetic extended to the rest of the poster.

The rest of the poster is confined within thick, heavy-lined boxes. The poster would probably be significantly improved by thinning or removing the lines entirely.

Worse, they’re boxes with rounded corners. The rounded corners brings the lines of the box closer to the text, which is already a problem. There is no space between the text and the lines, particularly in the upper left boxes. Further, the rounding isn’t consistent. Some corners are quite curved, others are closer to right angles.

I like distinctive typefaces for titles and section headings, but this one (something in the Eurostile family, I think) sacrifices too much legibility for decoration. From a distance, common letters like “a” and “e” are hard to tell apart. There is some variation in the heading weight: some things are in bold (which is contributing to making the letters hard to read), some not.

Underlining is used for emphasis, which also make it more difficult to read the text.

Throughout the poster, there are dozens of cases with things being poorly aligned or placed. Some of the mathematical equations have a space surplus on one side or another.

Finally, predicting the outcome of a competition is something that many people should be able to understand and relate to, regardless of the complexities of the mathematical equations behind the predictions. I’m surprised that when I look down in the lower right, where I expect to see an answer to the question, “Can I use this method to get a better bracket?”, I can’t see any answer. I would love a single sentence like, “This new model’s performance is better / as good as / worse than previous ones.”

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