10 April 2014

Critique: Sea otters

Jessica Hale tweeted this poster (click to enlarge) for the 2014 Northwest Student Society for Marine Mammalogy annual meeting with a request to make it, and I quote, “suck less”:

I tweeted these suggestions back to Jessica, which I have slightly elaborated on here.

A good design practice is to put things where the reader will need them. With only one reference, why not put it where the reader encounters it, in context: on the left column of text, instead of at the end of poster?

The “point of need” principle also means keeping related objects together. I like text describing results directly above or below figures, rather than all figures in one column. See this post for another example. Similarly, the statistical results could be put in the white space of the graphs, or in the caption, rather than in separate text in the results on the right, at some distance from the graphs.

Try removing the bullet points, and use normal sentences and paragraphs instead. PowerPoint, despite its name, often handles bullet lists fairly inelegantly, with strange indents.

Maybe the graphs could have same light blue background with no lines around them, so they would match the text boxes. This would mean picking the right colours for the graphs to match the blues. The figure in the left column might be a little more tricky to harmonize, but would be worth considering if it could be done.

Are the columns the same width? The right one looks narrower.

If you leave figures in central column, maybe you could consolidate the text boxes in the right and left columns into one box, not 2-3.

I wonder if you could have a stronger take home message. “Different otters are different” seems less memorable than you might like.

Try bolding everything you’ve underlined. As in, bold, instead of underline, not in addition to.

In a species name, “sp.” should not be italicized (see last bullet point under “Results: Season”).

Update, 3 May 2014: With a little advice and feedback, Jessica won the poster competition! Here is the final version she took to the conference, which you can see incorporates some of the feedback above.

1 comment:

Mike Taylor said...

Nice. For my money, the biggest change of all was one you didn't mention: the title. The new one is much more specific and engaging.