08 August 2021

Critique: Frog parasites

This week’s work comes from Anneke Schoemanan. This was created for British Society of Parasitology (BSP) Parasites Online 2021. Click to enlarge!

Poster titled, "The multiplex response of co-introduced parasites to the range expansion of their globally invasive frog host".

The influence of the billboard poster is evident here, with a bold as brass take-home message under the title. The title is practically unnecessary, because the take-home leaves nobody wondering what this poster is about. I personally think that if the title is right, it is the take-home message. 

The colour palette is extremely subdued. It almost looks like it’s been run through a “fade” filter compared to most posters I see on the blog. While neutral colours are useful and pastels are elegant, I found myself wishing for a little more brightness somewhere on the poster so that something would “pop” visually.

I asked Anneke to talk a little about what was asked for and how she went about creating the work. She wrote: 

 For this specific conference, the organisers asked for a static PDF of our posters. That was it. During the scheduled poster sessions, the presenters were supposed to be online to field questions and the attendees browsed all the posters in a virtual poster hall. (Below. - ZF).

Virtual poster hall.

Her supervisor challenged everyone to think visually and cut back on text. Anneke continued (lightly edited):

I approached my presentation from two angles. 

First, I wanted to rethink the traditional conference poster design in general. I relied on advice from Twitter and blogs. These resources are summarised in my tips and tricks blog post.

Second, I wanted to rethink the design for a virtual audience.

I asked, “What will attendees see before they zoom in?”, since they would be viewing it on a computer screen. I wanted design elements that conveyed my main message at this low level of magnification, so I added the main text box with the plain language explanation of my main finding.

I realised that after a viewer zoomed in, it might be difficult to navigate the page if there was no clear starting point that could “draw the eye in.” I visualised my results in a circular flow diagram and numbered the text boxes in the order that they should be read.

The flow diagram is a strong visual element. I might try some different directions for the components of the flow diagram so that the reader isn’t forced reading right to left (oval 3 to 4, and 4 to 5) or bottom up (oval 4 to 5) as often.

Anneke took advantage of the simple online format.

I also realised that the PDF could include hyperlinks in the virtual format (virtual version of the QR code). I thought it would be a nice personal touch. I added a link to a short video of what I would have said if someone walked up to my poster at an in-person conference and asked me what it was about. 

Besides her formal presentation, Anneke archived her poster in a nice blog post. It’s mobile friendly, too!

The accompanying blog post seemed like a good idea for a number of reasons:

First, the conference organisers did not require a narration or video but I wanted to introduce myself and explain my poster to attendees who wanted to know more without feeling obliged to send me an email and I had a platform to do it. In that sense, it was “bonus material” for conference goers.

Second, it gave me the opportunity to try my hand at my first “scicomm” video. I’ll definitely do some things differently next time but it was a fun exercise.

Third, I just finished my PhD and this was a way of advertising my blog and putting myself and my work out there.

Finally, the blog post and mainly jargon-free video are also targeted at the non-scientist audience that I am trying to reach. Now my conference poster and the information contained therein are accessible to everyone! – In theory. (I don’t think my blog has that many readers. 😉)

That may change, Anneke, that may change. Hey everyone, I suggest popping over to Anneke’s blog and checking out her poster!

External links

Some frogs carry more parasites than others – Why?

Less is more! Resources for an eye-catching conference poster

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