By Gordon Rugg
Every year, students in assorted non-artistic disciplines have to produce a poster. Every year, students who don’t view themselves as artistic complain bitterly about having to do this.
In this article, I’ll look at some of the issues involved in practical poster design at taught degree level, and at how they can be tackled systematically, without needing any artistic skills. The results aren’t likely to win any design prizes, but they should look competent enough to be presentable, and should save non-artistic students from a lot of grief.
In case you’re wondering why I’ve specified taught degrees, the answer is that in research degrees, students often have to produce posters for conferences. The guidelines for these are very different from those for taught course posters, and from publicity posters in the commercial world. This article is just about taught degree posters, and even for those, it comes with the disclaimer that your department may have very different ideas about how to do things, in which case, go with what they want, since they’ll be doing the marking…
I’ll also look at some broader issues in user-centred design, such as the concept of functional distance, which takes us into the origins of the classic command: “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes”.