Look around locally and identify a coming event and design two posters to promote it. Make the first poster full of details and descriptions about the event, when and where it’s taking place, what’s going on, how long it lasts, how much it costs and what to expect. For the second poster apply Occam’s Razor to pare back the information to a bare minimum.
Now ask yourself and other people if you can, which of the designs works best. What is the key information you need to include?
I chose to design posters for the Surrey County Show, a large agricultural show that takes place every year near to where I live. I started by reviewing the Surrey County Show website to collect information about the event. There was plenty 🙂
I decided that the poster would feature a striking image of an iconic farm animal. The image would be taken in the summer, showing countryside in the background, to give a sense of a summer, agricultural show. I also wanted the image to be a little humorous as the County Show is very much a family event and I wanted an image that would appeal to children and families.
I decided to use a stock image for the poster. Originally I had planned to use a Highland cow as a very typical animal that you might see at a country fair but I could not find a suitable image which had been taken in the sun (it is always raining in the Highlands, apparently!). Instead I found an image of a sheep that I could use.
My sketched design ideas for the two posters are below.
The Final Posters
My General Thoughts on the Poster Designs
I wanted to try to make the detailed design still work as a poster, so I spent a lot of time experimenting with fonts, font sizes and layout to try to keep all the information of the poster readable. The size and style of the fonts were important in making the different elements of the text stand out, and spacing was also important in separating the different pieces of information on the poster.
In the minimum poster design, my rationale was that, because the show is a big annual event in this area, most people will already know about it and really just need a prompt that it is coming. For people who are interested and need information, they would know to do an internet search to go to the website for the details of the show. The image and font design in this poster are critical as they are also conveying valuable information about the event – the image indicates that the show involves farm animals, it’s fun and it takes place in the summer. The font suggests strong and no-nonsense – words that I would use to describe a farmer. The font is also very easy to read.
Feedback on the Designs
My husband felt that the detailed design worked better. He felt that the layout was more ‘balanced’ and he felt it was important to know the location of the show – information which is included on the detailed poster and not on the minimal design. He didn’t really like the layout of the text on the minimal design poster, particularly the date, which he felt was cumbersome to read.
OCA Thames Valley Group
The group also preferred the detailed poster as they felt it provided more value in the information it gave. Interestingly no one suggested that it needed less information or that it appeared too cluttered! The only feedback was that the ‘exciting’ and ‘unmissable’ words needed to be separated out from the rest of the text a bit more, possibly using speech marks, and that the attractions should come before the prices, as logically you would want to know what was on first before you decided whether to pay for it.
For the minimal design, members of the group felt it needed the location where locals didn’t feel this was so necessary as they knew where the show was held each year.
What was very clear from our discussion is that the intended audience for the poster and its location, paid a large part in dictating its content. If the poster was located by the side of a road, the minimal design would work better. On a notice board, the detail design would be better as people would be more likely to step up to the board to read it. If it is a well established event, locals don’t need as much information on the poster.
Because both posters were deemed to ‘work’ depending on their location, I revised both following feedback:
Some Thoughts on Requesting Feedback
It is not clear to me at the moment, how much I should explain the rational of my designs when requesting feedback. Is there a danger that I might prime or lead the reviewer towards my preferred option? If I don’t provide any context, is there a danger they will ‘miss the point’ of my design? If the reviewer is in my target audience, should they even need any context and if I feel I have to explain my design then does that indicate it’s not really working? Is there a danger that reviewers just jump on the most obvious design without thinking more critically about what they are looking at? If only get a suggestion for a revision from one person in the group rather than the majority, then should I dismiss it? Lots of things to explore further here!