Above is the poster I presented at the 2010 Carnegie Mellon School of Design annual poster session. This happens yearly to give 2nd-year master’s students a chance to present their thesis projects at the midway point, and to gain feedback from faculty members and other students. Click here to download a PDF version.
Arriving at this poster design took a lot of reduction and editing, and a great deal of thanks goes to Stacie (my advisor) for her help getting to this point. My first poster draft was text heavy, and used many diagrams, theories, and in-depth results of my participatory research.
Instead of focusing on what I’ve done, Stacie suggested to instead focus on what I will do, and the questions I have going forward, in order to get the best feedback that I can from the faculty attending the poster session. She reminded me that I don’t need to prove that I’ve done a lot of work—everyone assumes that. Rather, what’s most important are the questions I’m hoping to answer next semester, and a little background about how I got there.
My project abstract that I included on my poster is also quite different from what I had written earlier in the semester. I’ve realized that my thesis project is not so much about The One Amazing Thing that I Will Design, as it is about applying psychological principles to an environmental case study, testing out a few different ideas, and sharing the results with the design community. This could be done in dozens of different ways—there is no one right design solution for this particular case study, just as there is no one right way to encourage behavior change on environmental issues.
So here is my new summary of my thesis project, as written on the poster:
For several decades, the field of environmental communication has studied best practices for creating persuasive informational campaigns. Many communication designers are also using design to encourage people to act in environmentally-friendly ways. The problem is that we are often unaware of fundamental research that already exists.
My goal with this project is to bridge the gap between disciplines by applying insights from the field of environmental communication to the creation of informational design pieces. As a case study, I am encouraging people to stop drinking bottled water, because of its adverse environmental effects. I will explore how the delivery and emotional tone of information affects its persuasive quality. In the end, I will share my findings with other designers, along with psychological and persuasive techniques which they can apply in their own practice.