A few weeks ago, we offered to give feedback to S.P.A.R.K. enrollees who put our 5 strategies for the visual communication of science into action when making their own pictures. Enrollees sent over many wonderful examples of their work. In this post, we’ll walk through some of the feedback we gave to enrollee Beatriz Inglessis.
Beatriz is a Graphic Designer/Scientific Illustrator at the California Science Center. She was tasked with creating the picture below for a scientific PowerPoint presentation. It focuses on the study of immunogenicity in cell therapy.
Strengths of the picture
Beatriz did many things well in this picture. Although we cannot share the original mock-up it’s based on, Beatriz was very successful at making the schematic more visually appealing than the original. She also used the narrative path as a strong visual element in the form of the color-coded arrows.
Another strong point is that Beatriz was very consistent throughout the picture. She stuck to a single font style and size. She color coded individual sections of the narrative path while avoiding extremes, and she maintained many best practices for color and text throughout the picture.
Finally, Beatriz made excellent use of enclosures around text. These provide consistency and chunk information in a way that reinforces the different sections of the narrative path.
Opportunities for improvement
This is a thoughtfully made picture, but as with all pictures, there are some things that could make it even more effective. Let’s consider context. Beatriz created this picture for a PowerPoint presentation, and it’s possible that the necessary context came from the surrounding slides. However, context within this picture would be greatly improved by a stronger visual entry point. “EV’s” could have been spelled out and perhaps depicted visually to make the subject matter clearer. That would also provide anchoring context for a more complete context sandwich: EV’s to experimental process to patient.
In terms of the narrative path, a straight, horizontal linear path would have been a better choice than a curved one. For a slide–and for general legibility (standard left to right reading)–a horizontal orientation is usually better than a vertical one. Also, a straight horizontal linear path would make – it easier to align the text boxes for each section. It would also provide an opportunity for some larger-font headings above the smaller text boxes in each section for even more overall context.
Some changes to the depictions of the mouse and the human would make the picture more consistent and inclusive. Beatriz was generally consistent throughout the picture, but the human is a pure silhouette, while the mouse has some internal detail and a drop shadow around it. The depiction of the human would be more inclusive by looking less specifically male and more schematic or symbolic as a generic human.
One final small tweak is that the text would be more legible if it were un-bolded. This might also allow for a larger text size– particularly important for an audience trying to quickly read the text on a slide.
Keep up the good work and keep sharing!
We enjoy the opportunity to provide feedback to enrollees, and can’t thank Beatriz enough for letting us share her work in this case study. We’ll be posting a few more similar case studies in the weeks to come.
By enrolling in our course, you can learn more about all the concepts that appear in bold face throughout this post.
If you’ve taken our course, please feel free to share your work with us. We’d love to see it!