SMART GUIDES RESOURCES
A large part of the reason I attended a multidisciplinary university rather than an art & design one was that I wanted the opportunity to meet and collaborate with people from other disciplines. Over the course of my studies, I was able to do just that, and as a side effect noticed that many research posters that were created for conference presentations were badly designed, unable to communicate their message.
My initial thought was to offer to redesign posters for a fee, but I quickly realized that every penny scientists have goes into their research (as it should), so they wouldn't have the budget for this. So I thought that it would be a great exercise for myself, and more scalable, if I could provide templates and other resources for scientists to create their own posters, except with much less hassle, and much better results, than before. See the blog here.
To gauge interest and to better understand my audience, I asked people in my target audience to fill out a 3-minute survey online. Among other questions, I asked the following:
Additionally, several respondents confirmed the need for such a service:
I also asked respondents which resources they'd use if available, and the most-requested were poster layouts they could copy (89% of respondents). Based on this and the fact that an overwhelming majority use PowerPoint to design their posters, I decided to create PPT templates for scientists to edit (but not without a blog post explaining why that's wrong!).
The next most asked-for resource was a document about design best practices (75%) and links to online resources such as free fonts, photos and color palette generators (66%). I decided to combine the two in a "Ten Top Tips" document, which could even be printed and turned into mini posters or flashcards.
I also made a second version that used less color and would be printer-friendly.
Now that I've established a blog and mailing list to keep followers informed, I plan on releasing a handful of templates a month, as well as other resources that are requested. Eventually, I hope to create video tutorials that show specifically how to lay out a research poster in InDesign; critique submitted posters and establish a forum where scientists can get feedback before printing.