Introduction: Water Reminder Poster Project
This is a final project for TDE 331 at North Carolina State University. Our group was assigned a project to discover and formulate a problem for a disability or community problem that could be solved through engineering design. We were to design, build, evaluate, and explain the engineering solution to help people be more aware of the problem. The problem our group chose to focus on was to inform students that they need to drink more water and stay hydrated.
Step 1: Brainstorming
We had to decide on a problem to address. Our project group was inspired to focus on a topic that had to do with health and wellness. After several meetings we managed to narrow down the scope of our problem from general health to hydration; more specifically ways to increase students water intake on our campus. We chose this due to the large amount of readily available research on proper hydration.
Step 2: Collection of Information
With the problem narrowed down to increasing students water intake, we decided to do some research on what barriers people had to drinking water. Was it the taste? Were people afraid of dirty water fountains or tap water pollutants? Or did people just prefer other drinks/not care? So we set up a survey to try and fin out what people here at NCSU thought.
Step 3: Analysis of Survey
After completing the survey we got the following results that stood out as a group.
1) A majority of the people do not like the taste of the water.
2) They have to rely on the tap water out of the water fountains and they do not like the taste of that water.
3) We found that people tend to be drinking over 4 cups of water a day. Here are the numbers for each of the different amounts of water they were able to drink:
- 46% Drink 4-6 glasses of water a day,
- 32% Drink at least 7 or more glasses.
- 22% of respondents drank 0-3 cups.
The recommended amount of water is usually 64 fl oz or roughly 8 cups a day. With the information gathered from the survey it appears that 68% of students do not drink enough water. This can lead to a multitude of health problems which can make college life even tougher. So we decided to reach out to those students.
Step 4: Ideas for Project
After analyzing the data collected from the survey, it was clear that students at NC State needed to drink more water. We just did not know how to get the students to actually drink more water. There were several methods discussed including:
1) A "Hydration Station" which would have info-graphics and free water which would be placed around campus
2) Various cell phone apps
3) Organizing a hydration week on campus to increase awareness at the beginning of a semester
4) Have a small advertising campaign to try and give students a visual reminder to drink water
All of these were interesting ideas and probably worth looking into. But the one that we settled on was a small advertising campaign to try and give students a visual reminder to drink water. We went with this choice mostly due to time constraints and group member expertise. We also did not have a lot of technical experience with our team members to build or program anything. We did have a member who was interested in graphic design however and thought they could make a fantastic poster.
Step 5: Creating the Poster: Problem Formulation & Rough Sketch
We came up with initial ideas for the poster and decided on the design parameters. Namely we looked at size, location, and content. Each of those categories being broken down to address more specific issues.
We wanted these posted above the water fountains, but would need to be able to place them in other places. Namely, we found out we could add them to the slideshow on the TV's in Poe hall and put them on the cork boards. So, the dimensions were decided to fit an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper with a landscape orientation. That would make it easy to print and would fit the TV as well.
We needed to have an attention grabber, that, if they saw nothing else, would remind them to get a drink. To do this we thought a short phrase in bold lettering would stick out, as well as a mascot. Seeing someone drink may be a better reminder than simply telling them they should. The slogan we came up with was initially "Had a drink recently?" but our adviser thought that might be a bit ambiguous on a college campus so we added "of water" to make it abundantly clear. There were several designs sketched but the one above is what the graphic designer on the team went with, more on why in the next step. The last thing needed was a color scheme. That was pretty easy as blue is generally already pretty strongly associated with water.
Then, we also wanted to have more information to help inform and educate passers by. So, we came up with the idea of creating multiple posters each with a different "fun fact" about water consumption and a link to give both credibility and extra information should anyone be curious.
Bottle Water Facts:
- Americans spend over $100 billion on bottled water every year
- global consumption of bottle water increases 10% every year
- tap water costs 0.1 cents per gallon, while bottled water costs 90 cents per gallon, thats a 560 time increase.
- production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil every year -> that enough to fill 1 million cars with free gas for a year
- takes three times more water to make the bottle than to fill it
- tap water is more heavily regulated and tested in the US than bottled water
Water Health Facts:
- water can help to maintain body weight by increasing metabolism, regulating appetite, and flushing unhealthy toxins from system
- leads to increased energy levels - daytime fatigue is an early sign of dehydration
- barrier against formation of wrinkles due to hydrated and healthier skin
- a balanced water and fiber intake will help to stay “regular”
- by substituting water for one 20 oz soda can save about 240 calories
- save money and time by carrying a refillable bottle - no waiting in line to buy and drink whenever needed.
We got these facts courtesy of http://www.businessinsider.com/facts-bottled-water... and http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-dr...
Step 6: Creating the Poster: Graphic Design Breakdown
Step 1: Color Scheme
We wanted simple so it was going to be a light blue for the background and a lighter shade for the foreground. Any other elements would be blank (white/paper color) or black (mainly for text and line art). Normally one should make sure to use RGB colors when doing a design meant for digital use, and CMYK for print. I think we used CMYK, but I don't remember. It was not super important as long as the colors were just shades of blue, but if there were any other colors involved then we would have had to go back and make separate digital and print media copies with the correct color setups.
Step 2: Create Vector Art
Elements had to be created in Adobe Illustrator as vector art. Vector art does not get pixelated when re-sized because it makes formulas to re-draw the image no matter how large or small. There were two things draw in Illustrator and they are the wavy pattern (2) and the figure holding the glass (3). The pattern for the waves was used again later with a change in color for the "fun fact" box.
The figure (3) was drawn to be a simple, cartoon like, line-art figure smiling and holding a glass of water. The thumbs up with the other hand helped to balance out the drawing and give the other hand something to do. It also reinforces the idea that water is awesome. The sparkles were added to enhance the water and make it stand out. Drawing the little sparkles is a good way to do that if one is limited in their color pallet or drawing style.
Step 3: Set up the Layout
For this we used Adobe InDesign. The size we had decided on was put into the dialog box that pops up for a new project and we had a blank 8.5x11 sheet of paper laying sideways. I then took the wavy background image file (2) and inserted that with 1/2" margins. Going outside those margins would mean going out of the printable area for some printers, or some might get cut off when projected.
Step 4: Add the middle layer
We then created a new layer above the background and to it we added the large white circle (4) and the background for the Fun Fact text (5). We tried the poster without the white bubble but because of the way that the figure (3) was drawn it looked weird. There is no fill, so all the inside parts of him are transparent, meaning that he is the color of whatever is in the layer behind him.
Care should be taken to leave margins again and not trap any white space. Notice that there is a strip of the background along the right side of the Fun Fact block and that is fairly close to the amount of space between it and the big bubble, the link text, and the QR code.
Step 5: Add the foreground elements
This final layer is where the figure (3), title text (1), fun fact text (5), and reference elements (6) were added. One font was used through the entire design to keep it visually consistent. We chose American Typewriter because it had a good clean look that also matched the line art fairly well. That added to the overall cohesiveness of the design. We made the slogan large and bold across the top (1). Then we had a large font for the "Fun Fact" title text, then a medium for the short version of the factoid, and a smaller text for the body of information. This was done to help emphasize what was important as well as lead the eye down the text gradient to the QR code and link.
The figure was placed in the large white circle and I decided that the circle was actually a bubble and needed to be stretched in to an ellipse that added to the pointing effect of his hands (the angle of the ellipse and the way the figure was drawn draw your eye across the page toward the Fun Fact section). The ellipse and figure took a while to get re-sized to fit just right but eventually a nice balance of enough white space without being too big was reached.
Finally the link and QR code were added (6). I decided not to put the link in the light blue box, or to give it its own highlighted area. It was large enough that it stood out if you really wanted to see it but I thought that anything else would take attention away from the important parts of the poster. The QR codes were made using a generic QR code builder we googled, saving the image, inserting, and re-sizing. One must be careful though when re-sizing to lock the aspect ratio, or else the code wont work right. Also, as this IS a pixel image, you are very limited in how much you can stretch it before pixelation occurs (this was shrunk though, which is generally fine).
Step 6: Tweaks and creating different versions
I added smaller ellipses to look like bubbles and thought that added more visual queues to associate it with water.
Then I saved the file with a bit in the file name to note which Fun Fact it contained. Then I just copied a new fun fact from our list and updated the text and links. I saved that using "Save As" to create a new file name. Then I did that till I had seven different posters made.
Step 7: Export for printing
Now we just went into each InDesign file and exported it as a PDF and as a JPG so that we could print and share them easily and whoever was accessing them could open the file without needing something like InDesign.
Step 7: The Experiment
In order to test the effectiveness of our localized advertising campaign we collected data before the posters went up, and then more afterwards hoping to see an increase significant enough to attribute that to our posters. To do this, we sat in two locations on either side of Poe Hall by its only two entrances and counted the number of people that walked past that did not drink, the number that stopped to drink at the water fountain, and the number that filled up a bottle at the water fountain. We counted by hand, making tally marks as people walked by. We tried to take all the data during the same time frame each week, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am-10:00am.
To get the best coverage we placed the posters on the first and second floors. We put them up on the digital slideshow TVs, on the inside of the bathroom doors which were right next to the water fountains, above the water fountains, and on the public advertising cork boards.
Once the posters were up, we resumed taking data as before.
Step 8: Results
The posters did not seem to have an effect on the number of people who stopped to have a drink of water. However, this was expected, for a number of reasons.
Roughly a week after the original counts were made, the posters were put up throughout the first and second floor of Poe Hall. The next time we collected data, two days later, we found that only 21 people drank water out of the water fountain and only 7 people filled up water bottles out of the 671 people that walked past the water fountains. That is just over 3 percent of the people walking past the water. The amount of people that filled up their water bottles was just over 1 percent. The data was collected under similar circumstances as the previous data. The time of day was the same and the outside temperature had remained unchanged. There were still large numbers of students who were carrying already full water bottles as well as their purchases from the local coffee shop. Before the posters were put up we had 52 students drink water from the water fountains on the second floor of Poe Hall at North Carolina State University out of the 1046 people that walked past the water fountains, over a 4 hour time span. This means that only 5 percent of the people that walked past the the water fountains actually stopped to have a drink.
Step 9: Analysis
We observed that people had orange juice, coffee, or water bottles with them. With the time of day, and having one of the main entrances open up right next to a coffee shop, it was not unreasonable to assume that people may not be drinking because they just recently had breakfast. In which case, posted reminders are reaching out to a much smaller group of people. If we collected the data during the middle of the afternoon or later in the morning we might have had different results.
In addition to the time of day, the temperature had an effect on the amount of water people are drinking. The weather was cooler than normal and was in the mid 40’s. With temperatures that low, people may not be as thirsty. Some of the variables that might have affected their choice to have a drink included the outside temperature, the time of their last meal, and the time of day the data was taken. Even after receiving permission from the dean allowing us to put our posters on the walls, they were removed before we collected data the second time. Unfortunately it seemed there was a miscommunication on our part and the posters were removed. We believe that if they had been posted for a longer period of time, there would be a more noticeable change in the numbers we saw. In addition to not having the posters up for as long, a survey done by a newspaper Metro Vancouver, shows a trend that people who drink water from the water fountain tend to be older people. Thus, with our data being collected on campus could have had an effect on the outcome. According to the same survey, college age people will drink more water from water bottles than actually from the water fountain. In the survey it states that they will use the water bottle once, throw it away, and then purchase another bottle instead of refilling it.
Step 10: Reflection
As previously stated, we believe there would have been more variation in the final results if our posters had stayed up for a longer period of time and there had been more time to collect data. Through this project, we have learned that while it is difficult to make a healthy change in our own lives, that convincing others to make a healthy life style change is an even more difficult task. We hope that our message reached some. It definitely taught us to be more conscious of how much water we drink and to make changes accordingly to drink more water.