Neutron stars: An infographics poster

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
P1 OPINNÄYTTEET D 2018 Erjavec
Degree programme
Visual Communication Design
Neutron stars are a timely and immensely interesting topic to learn about; through reading about them, one can come to understand the basic principles of the universe, grasp the meaning of recent scientific breakthroughs and successfully avoid plentiful misconceptions and hoaxes. However, for an educated adult to read and learn about neutron stars, one has to either go through superficial and often dubious pop-science articles on one end of the spectrum or deep and complex papers and course books intended for astronomy experts at the other end. Both of these extremes offer little graphic support to help the reader form mental models of the introduced concepts and fail to serve the needs of educated novices interested in the topic. There is a gap for material in the middle of the spectrum; where the target audience is thoughtfully approached with structure, language and visualizations, while their feedback being part of the design process. In this thesis I explore what kind of value can an Information design approach bring to adult novices interested in neutron stars. For that purpose, I create an information design poster about neutron stars. I frame the target audience of the poster with the use of personas, and after an extensive study of the phenomena, appropriately structure and produce textual and visual content. I refine the poster through various feedback sessions and conduct a qualitative evaluation session with users who fit the persona characteristics set at the beginning. The results of the evaluation session indicate that using a user centric information design approach to communicate about complex astronomical phenomena brings value to the target group; the users feel the content is sufficiently tailored to their needs and are content that a wider overview of astronomical phenomena is included. The comparisons used help them bridge the barrier of unimaginable numbers, and their interest in neutron stars rises after interaction with the poster. By including the users in the design process, and making an effort to understand their background, content can be produced that meets the needs and expectations of the target audience. This way, losing readers can be avoided by accurately estimating background knowledge if the target audience while supplying sufficient visual cues to help them navigate through complex phenomena.
Vyas, Rupesh
Thesis advisor
Kauppinen, Tomi
infographics, poster, information design, structure, augmented reality, visual communication design
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