michael puskas
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Academic Poster

During Summer 2016, I worked as a Research Assistant at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human Computer Interaction Institute. Towards the end of the summer, I was tasked with creating an academic poster that reflected the features of the tool that I had helped build.

The visual structure of this poster went through many iterations before arriving on this end result. The main considerations were flow and proper use of color.

The flow of the poster was very important, since people would be viewing it on an easel in an open room setting. My goal was that when someone walked up to the poster, they would have an immediate visual guide as to how to read it.

The viewer should either read in the order: Title -> The Problem -> Our Solution -> Features -> Ongoing Work, or Title -> Features -> Ongoing Work (If they don’t care about the background.)

The title should be read first, so it was placed in the top left, (Where we typically begin reading), and given the largest font size on the poster. From the end of the title, the subtitle is the next natural element to read. The goal from here is to give the user enough visual hinting that they’re naturally directed towards the information that they desire.

From the end of the subtitle, the user has a choice: read “Features”, or wrap back to the left side and begin reading “The Problem”. The subtitle purposely ends at a position such that the viewer’s eye would run over “Features” on the way back to “The Problem”. If the user is interested in immediately reading about the tool, they can stop at “Features”. Otherwise, they can continue on to “The Problem” for setup and background information.

If they choose to begin reading the features, the significant change in colors would guide them to stay within that section without being distracted by the surrounding text. Since there are four features with each having a decent amount of text, the viewer is at risk of becoming bored. To alleviate this, the colors were inverted through the middle of the section, compelling the viewer to continue investigating.

If they choose to read the background and setup information, the vertical column format and color border makes it clear where to read. A bright graphic was added in the middle of the text to compel the user to continue reading. At the bottom of the “Our Solution” section, the user is at risk of reading the references instead of moving on to “Features”. This is partially alleviated by the word “References”, which cues the viewer that it isn’t immediately important information, and is also alleviated by the text being much smaller than the other, more important text on the poster.

The “Ongoing Work” section is almost always guaranteed to be the last major element that the viewer reads, due to it being in the bottom right corner of the poster and also having a more muted color than the other sections. This is consistent with what I want the viewer to do.

© Michael Puskas, 2016. All rights reserved.