Design Challenge: Poster Session


My classmate Sunshine Baker and I worked on a paper together for our Quantitative Research Methods class.  Earlier this year, our project was accepted for the UCF Graduate Research Forum Poster Session.  We excitedly began working on our poster.  Sunshine typed up all of the relevant information into the PowerPoint template we were required to use.  Here is our “Before” poster:


After adding in the content into the template, Sunshine handed over the first draft to me to focus on design.  We had a list of requirements from both UCF and the Nicholson School of Communication.  I compiled that list of requirements together in a Word document.

Next, I took a look at some sample posters while considering how I would approach our design and layout.  I was not impressed.  To learn more, just do a Google search and a Google image search for “poster session examples.”  YIKES!  Hideous.  I also did a survey of the posters in our graduate lounge and the graduate conference room, but I wasn’t super impressed by anything I saw.

I turned to other places for design inspiration.  UCF has a page on their website called “Brand and Identity Guidelines” explaining our school fonts, colors, and design samples.  I used this as inspiration for the poster to promote a sense of school pride and spirit.  I decided to go with black, white, and gold for our colors based on the brand and identity guidelines, and I selected the fonts used by our school: “Americana” from the UCF logo and “Adobe Caslon” from many marketing materials.

After I decided how I would approach the design for our poster, I realized I just couldn’t work in PowerPoint 2007.  After calling the poster “help” line and hearing that the template only existed in PowerPoint, my genius designer/superteacher BFF Chiara Ojeda suggested that I just open the template in Keynote.  Voilà!  (And also: why didn’t I think of that?)  I began designing the poster using Keynote, a far superior program if you asked me.  After many, many long days of work and the help of Flickr and The Noun Project, I created our finished product.

Here she is, our “After” poster:


If I had one more week to work on the poster, I would be 100% happy with it, but knowing the time limitations, I am definitely satisfied.  The final task in this journey is to prepare for the Graduate Research Forum.  The posters will be judged first, and then the poster session will begin.  Sunshine and I will be talking to people about our research and answering questions about our work.  I can’t wait!  Since this is my first poster session, I am nervous because I don’t know what to expect AND excited because it’s new and fun and challenging.

Have you ever been given a serious design challenge you had to work hard to overcome?  Share with me!

Design Inspiration


When I begin creating a new deck of slides for my class, I first focus on storyboarding my content in the “Presenter’s Notes” section of Keynote.  After I decide how I’m going to organize my information, I begin the presentation design process.

It has been a few months since I’ve created a new deck of slides, so I wanted to ditch the old favorite layout, colors, and font to design something brand new and beautiful.  To do this, I turn to a folder on my computer and a Pinterest board called “Design.”  Using these two mediums, I collect design ideas – colors I like, web design that speaks to me, text on a shape that looks good, for example.  Today, as I’m still thinking about the design for this upcoming slideshow, I want to share some of my favorite design inspiration with you:

First, I am loving the simple packaging of Forever 21′s new makeup line:



Second, I love the new Lilly Pulitzer website.  With its moving elements and interconnected pieces on the home page, Lilly Pulitzer takes the prize as the first website I’ve ever seen that keeps me coming back not only for the clothing but also to see the tiny tweaks and updates in design.  For example, a few months ago, I “Pinned” this shot on my “Design” Pinterest board because of the combination of type and image.

Third, I’ve been really into a two simple, kitchen-inspired color palettes from Design Seeds:


Source (Left and Right)

Last, but not least, I am loving these tips on how to mix and match fonts.

How do you find and then keep track of your design inspiration?

Ethos3′s Your Business Needs Visual Content


Slideshare began supporting infographics in addition to slideshare decks a few months ago, and I love the important and well-designed messages I’ve been seeing.  For a stunning example of the new, scroll-down layout, check out Ethos3′s infographic.  Designed with their signature color scheme, the message is important: visual content dominates.


Since we talked about the importance of visuals in Professional Communication and Presentation on Friday, I especially loved Ethos3′s infographic about mid-way through.  The data visualization explained that from 2008 to 2013, bullets were banished and more images were used.  To all of my fellow presentation designers, thank you for your good work!  We are seeing a significant increase in effective slides.

What is your favorite piece of Ethos3′s “Your Business Needs Visual Content” infographic?  Have you used Slideshare’s new infographic tool yet?

An Argument For Visual Literacy


Gavin McMahon of Make A Powerful Point is one of my favorite bloggers and Slideshare connections.  His most recent deck of slides makes an argument for visual literacy.  Check it out below:


Do you think visual literacy will become increasingly important in 2014 and beyond?  How do you think slideshow presentations will continue to change and develop in the 21st century?

Color Psychology Infographic


The Interior Design Guide to Coloring Your Home certainly has application to the color we use on our slides.  The helpful “emotion” guide on the left shows us how color can best be used to evoke specific emotions.  I especially like the analysis of warm versus cool.  Check out the infographic below:



What important color psychology tips would you give slide designers?

Creating Communication’s New Look!


Creating Communication has undergone a makeover!  This morning, I received an email from Mark Battaglia:

After reading Mark’s constructive criticism, I sprang into action!  I certainly had no idea about these studies he referenced, so I asked my design-obsessed colleague and superteacher BFF, Chiara Ojeda.  She confirmed that, indeed, Mark was correct.  My response: “WHAT?!  How do I not know this?”
If you have links to any articles to help me begin my journey to learn more, please share them in the “Comment” section below!  And, of course, constructive criticism on the new look is welcome.  Please email me at
And thanks again for your feedback, Mark… I hope this new layout and color scheme do you proud :)

Know Your Knives Infographic


When I saw this gorgeous infographic earlier this week, I just knew I had to share it with all of you!  Chunk Five is one of my favorite fonts, but I also loved the color scheme, the beautiful knife icons, and the description of each knife/layout of that description.  This is an all-around beautiful, informative example of a strong data visualization.



Who designs your favorite infographics?  

Design Tip of the Day: 5 Fonts To Stop Using Immediately


After reading “Fonts To Avoid” by Rudolph Musngi last night, and after seeing a few particularly hideous ESL assignment sheets in our office copy room this afternoon, I was inspired to create my own font “no no” list.  You should stop using these fonts immediately.


Comic Sans is a font everybody loves to hate.  There’s even a website called “Comic Sans Criminal” with a mission to cure the world of inappropriate Comic Sans usage.  I must admit, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about when I first heard snobby designers talk bad about it.  Then, I opened my eyes to the reality of Comic Sans and my long history with the font.

My mother has used it since the early 1990s for her classroom lessons, and she is a high school foreign language teacher.  At work, I’ve seen it posted on refrigerator doors asking co-workers not to eat labeled food inside and taped near sinks explaining, “Your mother isn’t here.  Do your own dishes.”  Most recently, this very afternoon, instructors in the ESL department at my university used Comic Sans on their own handouts.  Overused and seen in just about every single setting from college handouts to the sides of ambulances, Comic Sans Criminal explains that the font is juvenile and should be relegated to elementary school or to comic books.  As my colleague Chiara Ojeda says, Comic Sans belongs on a lemonade stand.


Like Comic Sans, Papyrus is overused.  Like Comic Sans, Papyrus has a website.  Called “Papyrus Watch,” the site shows examples of Papyrus all over the place – from a restaurant sign to a CAPTCHA.  The website’s author asks for users to send in sightings of the overused font and explains that Papyrus was great for a 5th grade paper about Egypt.  The truth is, Papyrus is tacky.  Just ask designer Mat Carpenter whose friend Tweeted this quote:

“Kitschy, cheap and vile, Papyrus has no place in your designs.” thanks for the laugh @matcarpenter #wisdom


Curlz was my favorite font when I was 13 years old.  Keep in mind that I was one of the the most feminine, girly children in all of the land.  And that’s where Curlz should stay – on signs for Barbie’s Dream House and on fourth grade princess-themed birthday party invitations.

“Worst Fonts Ever” says of Curlz: “The only time you should ever print something in Curlz is if you’re making invitations for a 6-year-old girl’s birthday party—and even then, you owe it to that little girl to use a more creative font.  Curlz gives decorative fonts a terrible reputation with its overly-whimsical, overly-saccharine curlicues, which are very problematic for imprint methods that can’t handle fine detail. Worst of all, Curlz has an association with immaturity, and it can give off an impression of cheap gaudiness” (Source).


Oh, you are soooooooo clever.  You opened the “Blackboard” template and you had the genius idea to put all of your text in Chalkduster.  No one has EVER thought of that before…



I know, I know.  Garr Reynolds uses Gill Sans.  He is the king of presentation design and, in fact, the person who introduced me to the world of effective slide design.  How can this be a no-no font?

Consider this.  When you open “Keynote” and click to add a new text box, the standard font used is Gill Sans.  I tell my students that this is the most off-limits font of them all because it tells me that you literally put zero thought into your typeface selection.  At least SOME thought, however misguided, had to happen for a person to settle on Papyrus or Curlz… No thoughts occur for Keynote users who add text boxes.  Come on, y’all.  Scroll up or down your font book a notch or two.  Other great “G” fonts await you.

Do you hate a specific font?  What overused, hideous typeface would you add to this list?  Why?