Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Presentation is everything.

So, this weekend I went to the National Museum of Natural History.

Frankly...this has never been a museum I've appreciated. I'm exactly the kind of person who should appreciate it, mind. I'm a life member of National Geographic, I have a strong interest in biology, genetics and both botany and zoology. But I've always liked the Air & Space Museum or the American Indian one better.

Why?

Because, to be frank, the Natural History museum was...unpleasant. It was dark, the color scheme seemed designed to make it seem small (and dusty). Everything was glass cases that seemed not to have been cleaned often enough. In the end? I gave up on going there.

Now?

Night and day. Lighter, more vibrant colors give a better sense of space. The museum has been expanded, but not as much as it seems to have been. Clever visual tricks like video walls increase the sense of space. More tactile displays seek to engage the visitor. (My only quibble is that it's still hard to find your way around...and now they charge two bucks for maps).

The content has changed, but only a little. The presentation, though...

Presentation sells books. The right cover art, the right font...these sell books.

And in the quest for publication, make sure your own presentation is clear and seeks to engage the reader.