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  • Adam Behringer

    Seattle, Washington USA

    Adam is the founder of BEEDOCS, an artisan software company that makes great timeline software for Mac OS X.

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Making Design Concept Displays

Friday, March 30, 2007

Screenshot Board

My friend Tony J, of Ratio Interactive and I were talking a while back about presenting User Interface designs to team members and clients. The de facto standard for presenting designs generated on a computer seems to be PowerPoint but Tony was explaining how his team has begun to use prints mounted on boards, even for draft designs being discussed internally. He feels that having a physical object helps people "respect the design."

I also like the idea of presenting designs in a physical media because it allows me to leave the designs around the office for people to walk by, point at, and discuss. It is also great to make displays of competitor products to compare and contrast. The non-linear browsing just doesn't work as well with PowerPoint.

I asked Tony what steps Ratio takes to prepare a design exhibit. This is what he said:

  1. create designs (of course)
  2. print designs on ink jet printer
  3. obtain black matte board (8-ply is nice and "substantial" feeling)
  4. cut a trim print outs to size (if need be)
  5. cut matte board to size based on print outs to be mounted. Make sure to lightly pencil in your mounting marks (the corners) so you can easily place the printed piece after it's sprayed.
  6. use Super 77 (from 3m) spray mount. (very permanent, no second chances. But the paper becomes 1 with the matte) Home Depot sells it very inexpensively.
  7. In a well ventilated area (stair-well, covered outdoor area, or garage) we place the printed piece face down in a box and spray the back until it's covered like a light morning dew.
  8. after you've sprayed the paper you have a minute or two to place it on the matte. Be careful to not let it touch the matte until you're ready to commit. I recommend starting with the corners on one side and placing that side edge between the corners. Then carefully stretch the paper across the matte taught and bring the opposite corners to their marks on the matte. This will give you the opportunity to slightly stretch and align as you go to make sure you hit the marks on the opposite corners.

This week, I make my own exhibit for a project I am consulting on. I used a slightly different technique. Here is what I did:

  1. Took screenshots of popular web sites as well as my own designs and imported them into iPhoto.
  2. I cropped them into a normal print size and used iPhoto to order the images as prints. I did a second batch at a local Costco using their "matte" finish prints and like the look even better. 5 x 7 size worked nicely for me. The nice thing about photo prints as opposed to doing them on an inkjet is that the quality is high, the is no expensive ink to run out, and there is no cropping required.
  3. I used black foam core for my backing.
  4. Instead of glue, I tried this Handi-Tak Reusable Adhesive stuff that I found. I cut it into small pieces, roll each piece into a ball, and put a little ball on each corner of the print. Then I press it on the board using gloves or a tissue to avoid finger prints. I like that the Handi-Tak makes the print hover off the backing by about an 1/8". It also is easy to remove and reposition, which is nice if I don't get them straight the first time or so that I can reuse the backing board.
Screenshot Board

All in all, it costs a few bucks and about 10-15 minutes to make one of these boards once you have the supplies. I'm a fan of this presentation method so far. Earlier this week I did a Keynote walk through of a mock-up design idea, but had a board with all the screenshots too so that people could compare it against previous slides for discussion.

If you are a presentor or a designer, what is your favorite method for presenting exhibits?

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