04 May 2019

The Morrison billboard poster, part 2

Since its debut on YouTube a few weeks ago, Mike Morrison’s suggested format has been getting a fair share of people trying it out. This one appeared in my feed via Hannah Hobson.

I’m fascinated by this, because it shows how design can be like the whisper game. Things get changed with each repetition and you end up with something rather different (and sometimes incomprehensible) compared to the original.

In Morrison’s original template, the entire content of the poster was contained on the left hand sidebar. The right hand sidebar is for extra supporting detail for superfans and ultraskeptics.

This meant a presenter mainly has to help people on the left side of the poster. If the presenter is standing in front of it that right sidebar, it’s usually no big deal.

In this version, the content is so much longer than the “structured abstract” that the content is split between the two sidebars.

 And to make matters worse, the break comes in the

middle of the results section.

As I have just demonstrated, unexpected breaks mess up your reading flow. Now you have to shift your physical location quite a bit to continue reading the results. You might have to dance back and forth between the start of the results on the left and the end of the results on the right to make sense of the whole thing.

For the presenter, this version clusters audience members at both edges of the poster. The middle “take home” message becomes something of a dead zone. If there were meaningful content in the middle, you would walk people through in a continuous loop. But here, people have to jump over several feet.

A good general guideline in graphic design is keep related content together.

If you have so much stuff that you need two columns to explain it, keep those columns together.

I’m also baffled by the QR code which says, “Take a picture to download the full poster.” Surely I can eliminate the middleman by just... taking a picture of the poster?

Also, as noted before, the presence of a large take-home message in the body of the poster makes the title running across the top redundant. You only need one or the other, not both.

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