From the Design Help Desk

Vassilissa Semouchkina (UW M.Design alum and former Design Help Desk consultant) has published her thesis on “Advancing Visual Design Culture in STEM Laboratory Groups.”

You can download each design guide from her thesis individually (see left menu), or you can download all three booklets at once in this combined print-ready PDF. The PDF is formatted for color printing on 11×17 (tabloid-size) paper. After printing, the pages can be folded into three individual booklets.

Bonus materials include a letter-size visual design checklist and a tabloid-size design critique wall poster.

Learn how the “Visual Design Toolkit for Scientists” was designed and developed.

Data from Vassilissa’s thesis research confirms that scientists can improve their knowledge of visual design by engaging in design critiques. Our group describes this study at our 2021 Information Plus conference presentation “Design Critique in Stem Research Labs.”

We explain how scientists learn about visual design through design critiques.

Recommended Research

“Proving the Value of Visual Design in Scientific Communication” examines the impact of visual design on the Graphical Abstract (GA), an overview figure that attracts potential readers and visually summarizes what a paper is about. We show that well-designed GAs (designed in accordance with classic visual principles) make papers seem more interesting, more clearly written, and more scientifically rigorous. Presented at the 2016 Information Plus conference, and published in the Information Design Journal.

Watch our Information Plus conference presentation “Proving the Value of Visual Design in Scientific Communication.”

“A Brief Guide to Designing Effective Figures for the Scientific Paper” is a short introduction to visual design principles for scientific figures, as published in Advanced Materials.

“The Design Help Desk: A collaborative approach to design education for scientists and engineers” is a study of the effectiveness of a visual design advice/tutoring center at the University of Washington. Published in PLOS, our research shows that scientists experienced disequilibrium that led to agency and a conceptual change in their understanding of visual design. The Design Help Desk was also discussed in our editorial, “Graphic Design for Scientists” in Nature Nanotechnology.

Additional Resources

Engage Science is a graduate seminar and speaker series that helps University of Washington graduate students develop the skills they need to more effectively present their research to the public. Through better communication, the group hopes to promote greater awareness and support of scientific research.