03 August 2017

Critique and makeover: How to recognize birds

Today’s poster was presented at this year’s Evolution 2017 meeting by Stephanie Aguillon. Click to enlarge!

Stephanie spelled out her design goals with this poster:

I worked really hard on minimal text and focusing on visuals. ... I think this is one of the best posters I have designed.

Stephanie achieved her goals. Her poster is graphic, it’s bright, and you can pull out the main points very quickly. She clearly put some thought into her colours, using them consistently to identify her different bird populations.

I wouldn’t change much on this poster, but nobody reads this blog for “Yup, it’s good” and no suggestions. The first thing I tried is to go Samurai Jack on the boxes and get rid of the thick black lines:

My next concern is that the graphs for the results are quite close together. I tried shrinking them by 95% in the version below.

I also shrunk down the Cornell logo, so that it was roughly the same height as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Then, I nudged both logos so that the right side of the Cornell logo was in alignment with the right side of the title, and both were in line with emails in the author’s credit. Alignment is good!

I didn’t change it here, but the “Results & Discussion” section lacks a clear visual hierarchy. Here’s the problem.

The “Results & Discussion” heading is all caps and set large type, both of which are visual cues to importance. But the two sentences below the heading are almost as large, and set entirely in bold text. Bold text is another, different visual signal for importance. Consequently, the two bits of the poster are sending conflicting messages about which is more important. So rather than emphasizing the text, the bolding across the board ends up lessening the impact of the text.

Stephanie printed her poster using Spoonflower (which I mentioned a while ago). Here’s how it looked on the day:

The colours are vibrant, but you can still see some distortion from the fabric stretching near the tacks. I think I still prefer paper for most purposes.

The changes, animated to make comparisons easier:

1 comment:

Danyel said...

I have mixed feelings about removing the black lines. I do believe that creating contrast by color instead of lines is much more organic, and nicer! Prove of that is the left side of the poster after you removed the lines. But once you did, the right side looks a bit off —to me at least. That beige and white are so similar in hue that you almost makes your eyes twitch a little bit. That disadvantage might cancel out the overall line-removal-improvement-potential. I'd go on without the lines but adjust the background gradient accordingly.