17 November 2016

Critique: Making enzymes

Today’s contribution come from Ian Haydon, who is kind enough to share it with us. Click to enlarge!

Ian writes:

The attached poster won best in show at my departmental retreat last week. I think why this took best poster was that two of the judges commented that I “told a nice story” (at least when I talked them through the poster, not clear it's as evident as a static document)

I designed the entire thing in Google Slides.

I think that makes Ian’s poster a first. I don’t think I have ever shown a poster made in Google Slides on the blog before. Ian wrote:

I love Google’s web apps. I make all my presentations in Slides and use Docs for all word processing so I’m quite comfortable with the controls. They offer all the essential features I’d use in fuller apps like Powerpoint/Keynote/Word, plus they cut out all the junk fonts and themes that I’d never use anyway. The ability to access all my media from any device is a huge plus. The collaboration tools are also top notch. I shared this poster with labmates in comment-only mode to get feedback before printing, for example. And Google apps never crash on me.

The only trick to using Google Slides to make a poster in is setting up the slide size. File > Page Setup > Custom. This should be done before you do any work, because changing it later will cause everything to scale to the new slide size.

Once I am happy with the final poster design, I save it as a giant PDF and print that.

This poster is built on a solid foundation. It’s a three column layout with a clear reading order, and everything is big enough that it can easily pass the “arm’s length” test. The colours are consistent and relaxed.

I appreciate that the institutional affiliations in the title bar are widely spaced. That makes it easy to match the subscript behind the author’s name with the institution.

My main concern is with the amount of white space on this page. Everything fits. Nothing is touching, but nothing feels comfortable, either. It feels like:

For comparison, standard letter paper (8½ × 11”) usually has about a one inch margin. If this poster is shrunk down to about that size, 7½ × 10”, the margins would be something like an eighth of an inch. When we are so used to seeing documents with larger margins, tiny margins look weird, no matter how well organized everything is within them. I would try shrinking major elements of the poster by 90-95% to provide those wider margins.

I’m never a big fan of logos bookending the title. But the title here is short, at least, so the logos are not chewing up room the title needs. But my objection to having the logos in the title is compounded a bit by the right one, the stylized “P,” being repeated down in the right corner. Putting two logos down in the corner doesn’t quite work. First, one is left aligned, while the other is centered, creating some visual tension between them. Worse, the two don’t line up:

Some of the colours used to highlight phrases in the text are a bit cryptic. The colours seem to be referring to elements in adjacent images, but I’m always not sure how. In the example below, the highlighted gold text refers to “missing side chains,” but the yellow in the diagram below (the closest visual match) seems to show alpha helices that are present, not side chains that are missing.

This may reflect my own ignorance more than it represents a design flaw, however.

1 comment:

Francisco Lobos said...

Regarding that last figure, the filled-in side chains Ian refers to are actually the thin yellow lines protruding from the beta strands. He could have shown them in a thicker stick representation, but it would look more crowded, I guess.