Design eye for the science guy: Drop-in clinic helps scientists communicate data

From NSTA WebNews Digest, by way of the National Science Foundation, comes this interesting idea from the University of Washington.  It honestly sounds like a viable idea for many different professions, not just scientists!

Some of the figures scientists create are stunning. Others are not – mismatched fonts, poorly aligned tables, clashing colors.  Many fall somewhere in between. A deluge of data presents a challenge to amateur designers, often resulting in a cluttered presentation that can crowd out the figure’s main message.

A group of University of Washington researchers has launched a unique experiment matching science students with those in design. The new Design Help Desk, similar to a writing help desk, offers scientists a chance to meet with someone who can help them create more effective figures, tables and graphs. […]

“We are becoming a more visual culture,” says Karen Cheng, a UW associate professor of design (who also completed a bachelor’s in chemical engineering). Still, most science visuals “could use significant improvement from a visual point of view,” she said. “It’s just not a field where design has been part of the training.” […]

“It’s not just about looking pretty. It’s about conveying complex information in a clear way,” Cheng said.

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