Instructional Poster Project

For this project, my classmate Rui Wang and I had to create an instructional poster that illustrates a graphic design principle to follow when designing instructional material. Our instructional poster is titled “Consider How to Organize your Hats.”

Design Process

Our poster illustrates the Five Hats Racks principle. This principle is presented as an analogy to represent the five ways to organize information: category (by similarity), time (by chronological sequence), location (by geographical or spatial reference), alphabet (by alphabetical order), and continuum (by magnitude). The hats represent information whereas the shelving unit represent ways to organize content.

We used Adobe Photoshop to create our design. We found an image of a closet shelving unit and various types of hats. We made labels using the rectangle shape tool, which we superimposed on each shelf to represent each category. We categorized and positioned the hats on each shelf (e.g., for the time category, we positioned the hats based on the year they were invented) as well as made a pile of hats on the floor to portray unorganized content. We made some changes to the original design that we had created in class, and this is the revised version.

Design Challenges

When we designed our poster in class, we expected our audience (classmates) to be able to decode our message based on the way we organized the hats on the coat racks. However, only half of our classmates were able to do so. Therefore, we revised our design and decided to put labels for each category, which better highlights the information we are trying to transmit with the help of text and not only with images.

In terms of software and technical challenges, we faced some difficulties when using Photoshop when trying to cut out the backgrounds in the hat images. As we were unfamiliar with the correct procedure to do so, it was quite time consuming to figure it out. Also, as we are both more comfortable using a Windows computer than a Mac one, we found it challenging to use a Mac due to the differences in keyboard shortcuts and functions. We solved these issues by searching on Google for a solution or watching YouTube videos.

Collaboration Challenges

One challenge during this project was that we had to create the final product on only one computer. This made working on it together a bit difficult in terms of allocating the tasks.

Also, we believe this project was challenging because of the cultural barrier between us. We feel like our communication was not effective as our explanations to one another were not easily understood. Background knowledge and cultural awareness definitely impacted how we perceived the meaning of the design we wanted to represent.

Personal Reflection

This experience made me realize how important it is to get your message across to team members to ensure that you are on the same page. In fact, having a solid communal understanding of the envisioned design is critical as you embark on creating your content, as it will make the development process easier.

This project helped me become more conscious of the importance to organize content in a clear way so that is intuitive and visually appealing for the target audience. In addition, I learned that just because my vision is clear in my head, it does not mean that others will see my vision. In other words, it’s important to consider how your viewers may interpret your design, which might end up being different than your desired interpretation.


Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Universal principles of design. Gloucester, MA: Rockport Publishers, Inc.