11 October 2018

Critique: Virtual conferencing

Today’s contribution comes from Parisa Mehran, PhD student at Osaka University. This poster was presented at EUROCALL2018, but talks a lot about what went down at EUROCALL2017. You can read that story here, but as for the poster itself? Click to enlarge!


The upper left side is blank on purpose to hold some documents that Parisa clipped to the poster. You can see this in her picture below, from her Facebook post about this:


The poster’s biggest successes are the organization and the colours.

The poster is clearly meant to be read in rows. Using gray bars to separate elements within rows means that the break between them is less conspicuous than the black bars between rows, so your eyes group the rows together.

Yellow has the advantage of being a bright colour that is naturally light enough that you can readily read black text on top of it. The boldness of colour fits with the boldness of the thick sans serif type.

I like the type choice here so much that I wish it was used throughout more consistently. “Live streaming” and “No ban no wall” are in the same compressed sans serif style, but they aren’t the same font. Those sorts of “almost but not quite the same” elements are risky, because people wonder if it’s deliberate or a mistake.

The words “Develop” and “Design” in the bottom work well, because those are so obviously different. The geometric type used to spell out “Design” evokes the concept the word expresses.

The flowcharts in the bottom left section would benefit from some elements having higher contrast. The “Development” box is almost vanishing from view because it it is a light, warm orange that is close to the background.

The poster’s QR codes might benefit from a little more indication of what scanning them would get you. The top one is not bad, because it ties into the “Denied yet present” title next to it, suggesting you’re going to the “memoir.” The bottom one’s description, “Behind the scenes: All about OUGEO” is more cryptic.

In fact, I wouldn’t have minded getting a little more explanation of the material across the board. I bet this is a great aid when Parisa is there to tell her story, but as a stand alone document, it is a little difficult to work out what the narrative is.

This is the latest award-winning poster to be featured here! Best PhD student poster award, to be exact.



Picture from Shannon Sauro, showing Parisa getting her award. Congratulations, Parisa!

04 October 2018

Critique: Marked frogs

Today’s contributor is A.Z. Andis, who is sharing an award-winning poster presented at Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Click to enlarge!


This won the Victor Hutchinson Outstanding Poster award in the most popular category!

What leaps (no frog pun intended) out at you with this poster is the discipline in the colour palette. We are using black, and we are using green, the text is white, and you will like it! This brings so much cohesion to the poster.

The first section of the poster (“Introduction”) is placed further right than the second section (“Experiment”), which violates our normal reading expectation. But at least readers get warned of this, because the sections are numbered.

The varying widths of the text and images takes away a little of the cleanliness of the layout. Visually, it is unclear if the box with the white background belongs to the “Experiment” section or the “Results” section.

The rotation of words is an interesting way of emphasizing key words in the title.

The creator wrote (lightly edited):

This is the first real conference poster I’ve made. I worked as a communications director for a non-profit and taught myself the Adobe suite and basic design principles. Even with some design background, crafting this poster made it exceedingly clear that design is really a minor part of the final product. For me, succinctly communicating science that I’ve worked on for months without rewriting my paper in poster-form was the biggest struggle.

Editing is hard.

It might be that when you know something about design, the design part seems easy.