Frequently Asked Questions

The Design Help Desk is a free service for members of the University of Washington community who are looking to improve their visuals and graphics. It is supported by an National Science Foundation grant to improve visual communication in science.

What sort of help can I get at the Help Desk?
The help desk session is an one-on-one session between the client and our designers on staff. Clients can bring in a variety of visual work — from initial sketches to more refined images — for presentations, posters, publications, etc. The designer then works with the client to help improve the visual. Sessions typically last about 30 minutes.
What do I bring? How do I get the most out of my session?
Bring two hard copies of the graphic you would like to improve. Prepare a short (~2 min) What is the story? explanation for a lay audience that describes:
  1. What is involved?
  2. What is the most important aspect of the graphic?
  3. What is the most important takeaway message for your audience?
The designer will advise you on changes you can make to your graphic, but is not there to redo your graphic for you.
I just want to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator/In-Design/Photoshop. Is this the right place?
While our designers are happy to answer incidental software questions that arise during the session, the Help Desk is not intended to teach you how to use software. However, please email us as our research group does organize workshops aimed to help scientists get started, and UW IT offers a number of graphics software related workshops, as well.
Do you have any online resources?
We are putting together a resources page. Check back soon.
I see this is part of an NSF-funded study. What does that mean?
Part of the funding for his Help Desk comes from an NSF-funded grant to improve the visual communication abilities of graduate student scientists. Your participation in the study helps us prepare an effective curriculum for a future design class for scientists and engineers. With your consent, we would like to record the interaction between you and the graphic designer. We will never associate your name with your comments or work without your explicit permission. Similarly, your visuals, data and results will remain confidential within our research group and the designers, unless you give us explicit permission otherwise.

We hope that you will particpiate in our study, but if you choose to opt out, you will still receive the same design help from our designers. Please feel free to ask any additional questions you may have about the study.
I'm not sure I have time to come in during your current hours. What can I do?
If you really cannot make our session times, contact us as we may be able to arrange for special accomodations.

Return to the booking page.

This NSF study is led by PI Marco Rolandi (Materials Science and Engineering) and co-PI Karen Cheng (Visual Communication Design).