Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thoughts on Visual Design, Part 1: Goals

[This is the first in the three-part series on using visual design theory in documents and slide decks.] 

Using visual design theory in business and technical writing is important because busy readers lose interest easily, so they need to capture information quickly. For these reasons, we employ illustrations such as tables, charts, photos, drawings, and screenshots to focus our reader.

But a lot goes into visual design. Start with the premise that document and slide deck design depends on the principles that define powerful writing: Establish your purpose, identify the most important points, and determine your audience’s level of understanding.

The graphic designer seeks a layout that achieves five goals:
  • stimulate interestThe illustration must capture the reader’s attention.
  • clarify complexitiesThe illustration must simplify the text.
  • promote retention – The illustration must capture the key content for quick scanning.
  • induce action – The illustration must invoke participants to achieve the intended results.
  • impose enduring impressions – The illustration must have a memorable impact.