It’s Arachtober so I wanted to share, in case you didn’t already know, that the University of Richmond’s mascot is a spider (named WebstUR, I gather). That’s pretty cool. Not as cool as the Evergreen State Geoduck, but nonetheless pretty notable for a nation that tends to hate spiders. But because Arachtober is about arachnid awareness, I’d like to point out that the logo the school uses is almost certainly a mite, not a spider. Here’s a pic from the campus store:
The main reason it looks like a mite is that it lacks a cephalothorax (head plus thorax), something that all spiders have. Here’s a spider:For fun, I loaded the logo into iNaturalist, a website that uses artificial intelligence to recognize and identify organisms. The AI thought the logo was a mite (or tick):
Given the shape of the idiosoma (body) and size of the pedipalps, I’m wondering whether the artist who drew the logo might have based his or her drawing on a tropical fowl mite (Ornithonyssus bursa) or something related. Below is a drawing of one of those, though the legs don’t look quite long enough to match the logo exactly.
If you have any details on how the University happened to base its logo on a mite, I’d love to hear from you. I wonder whether the hired artist simply Googled, “spider”, and then selected a nice drawing that happened to be a spider mite. This is why it’s good to run these things by your biology faculty members.
When I give lectures on poster design, I show examples of horrific posters I’ve found on the internet. To be honest, almost all posters on the internet are horrific, so all I really have to do is choose a few. But I fear that someday the author of a poster I’m critiquing is going to be in the audience, in the front row, and carrying a concealed weapon, so I thought it was time to construct my own bad poster. The result is, “Pigs in space: effect of zero gravity and ad libitum feeding on weight gain in Cavia porcellus.” I’m especially ashamed of the bad logos, which I designed so as not to anger actual entities like NSF, SpaceX, and the Corn Refiners Association. A partial list of why the poster is awful is below the image.
Why this is a terrible poster:
Too much text (I’ve been on mission to push for 800 words).
Background image is distracting (distracts from illustrations).
Text box backgrounds are dark, which makes text really hard to read.
Text box backgrounds are all different colors, for no reason (distracting).
Text boxes are different widths (distracting, hard to follow flow of poster).
Some text boxes too wide (aim for 45-65 characters per line).
Text boxes not separated from each other by pleasing “white” space.
Text box edges not aligned (distracting).
Text justified, which causes bad inter-word spacing. Also makes reading harder (brain uses jaggedness of left-justified text).
Logos are distracting, useless, crowd title.
Title word art distracting, hard to read, juvenile.
Title is in all caps, which is harder to read and obscures Latin name.
Title is italicized, which also obscures Latin name style conventions.
Author font and color is annoying (comic sans should be reserved for comic books).
Author font color is too loud relative to other text.
Results are presented in sentences instead of visually with charts.
Section headers have too much formatting (big font, bolded, italicized, underlined, and colored — ack!). Choose one. [Note: I forgot to number the sections…that would have been even worse.]
Terrible graphic of Guinea pig on scale. Need one of the actual set up (pigs eating while weightless, for example).
Inclusion of an Abstract consumes space needlessly. Abstract section should be banned from posters. Posters ARE an abstract.
Plus the science is terrible! (Bad science is correlated with bad graphic design, by the way.)
I encourage teachers to print the poster and hang in a hallway a month prior to when students’ posters are due. Here’s the PDF. More details at “Designing conference posters“.
Believe it or not, the poster got published in the journal Nature. And yes, that street number is a horrific gravity reference. Sorry.