Research & Evaluation

Illustration Zoom into a Butterfly 2008 Formative Evaluation

Report date: August, 2008



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General Description: 

This formative evaluation looks at the second version of a poster created to help visitors visualize the nanoscale structures in a butterfly wing. This version includes annotations to call out the different structures of the butterfly wing and reflects changes made to better align the illustration with scientific content.

Major Findings: 

• Most (71%) of the visitors thought that the poster showed that the illustration was ‘zooming in’ to a butterfly’s wing.
• About half (9/19) of the visitors we interviewed found something confusing about the poster. Five people thought the annotations were difficult to understand. Some others felt that the illustration was disorienting, complicated or overly abstract, but were unable to articulate specifically what was confusing them.
• Every visitor associated the ball-and-stick representation with atoms and / or molecules.
• Most (about 75%) visitors were able to identify the size relationship between different objects included in the illustration. Furthermore, when asked if the poster helped them imagine how small these structures were, 58% said that it did. They gave various reasons, including finding a familiar object such as the butterfly or the atom, reading the text, and looking at the graphic elements used.
• About 60% of the visitors interviewed said that having a zoom of the human bloodstream, juxtaposed, helped them make sense of the butterfly zoom. Others, however, found it superfluous or, worse, confusing.

Type of product(s) studied: 

  • Media

Method(s) of data collection: 

  • interviews


Joyce Ma

Associated product(s): 



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