It’s a Poster. But for the Web.

A design philosophy for moving people

The poster needs to be arresting. Within a split second of you passing it on the street, it needs to stop you in your tracks. And stick with you. That’s how it serves its purpose. While it tinkers with your brain, pulling strings and activating signals, it allows magic to happen in how you think about things. It changes, or reinforces, your worldview. It’s that powerful, when done correctly.

There’s a certain kind of challenge faced when creating a poster. Can it take a message and simplify, clarify and inspire? As one of the purest forms of communication, one that cries out for the viewer to shift his or her behavior, it is tough to do, but it’s one of the most effective at moving people to action.

The poster has always been my preferred design medium. The poster was THE thing I’d put extra hours of exploring and thinking into. It was my favorite category in the annuals no matter the type; for a gig or an action. Beautifully assembled with such artistic craft or strikingly simple in its visual wit. It was the thing to do pro-bono if needed and the thing to do just for fun. At its core it felt so groundbreakingly effective in its persuasion. And it is a perfect blending of design and activism.

With the poster, the viewer looks at a problem differently. The poster makes the mind realize something is about to happen. The viewer is about to be moved in some way. To act, to support, to believe. Traditionally this has been done in a 2x3 space, flat and contained in the physical environment.

In the digital realm, amidst sharing and social networks, the poster, once reserved for street postings on telephone polls and community boards, now has a new forum—on your “wall.”

As a “share graphic,” the digital poster is alive and well in your feeds, both the lousy crap that makes you cringe and the emotionally moving pieces that compel you to feel something.

The principles of poster design have been making their way to the Web in a grander form for some time now. Not just as a graphic, but as a website. The single-pager, the elevator site, the long scroll, the one-page. Whatever you call it, it’s a refreshing and effective method for moving people through content. Its wonderful to see how stories can be beautifully told by cutting out the clutter and focusing on the message.

When the idea of the poster is applied to the responsive nature of the modern Web, movements can be made. When the poster for your cause is missed on the street because the viewer is head down, eyes glued to a mobile, what’s the best way to present your story if you’re able to land on that screen? 

With opportunities in interaction and user experience, the Web can be an even more effective space for your “poster” than the physical walls of the pre-smartphone world. Fluid, smooth, and quickly engaged with, on whatever screen happens to be spurring interaction.

With clear design supported with video, animation, and thoughtful user experience, the story unfolds with opportunities to create, delight, and move to action. And the story spurs people to share far and wide. The focused notion of design and message draws you in and compels you to act, just like a poster; feature, benefit, call-to-action. On the street, you see a powerful poster from far away and are pulled into it for a closer look. On the web, you land at the top and, if you connect with the message, scroll through to the bottom.

Movements are built by inspiring people. Movements are built by connecting people. And movements are built by compelling people to share ideas for action with everyone they know. 

We design with focus. We cut out the clutter. We eliminate the unnecessary for the sake of the story. We know this is the best way to move people when they land on an action-focused site. That’s what we mean by “poster sites to build a movement.” 

The poster, that purest form of active communication, now a great opportunity for designing experiences on the modern web—fast, focused, and beautiful.


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