Sunday, May 04, 2014

Thoughts on Visual Design, Part 2: Principles

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

Visual design achieves the five goals of stimulating interest, clarifying complexities, promoting retention, inducing action, and imposing enduring impressions by adhering to the following six principles:

  • Openness – Keep as much white space as possible. Take the attitude that space is money, so you won’t want to lose too much of it. As for text, less is more.
  • Emphasis – Capture the meaning of what you want to say in a focused theme—then work from that theme. This practice will help the visuals drive the idea you need to get across.
  • Relevance Include only visuals that contribute to understanding and remembering the central idea. Make the image purposeful before you make it beautiful.
  • Uniformity Keep the theme consistent throughout the page. A minimalist and repetitive approach to color, spacing, margins, and font helps establish and reinforce the theme.
  • Clarity Create a design that enhances the text and does not get between the text and the reader. An eye for contrasting—not clashing—elements is essential.
  • Balance Cultivate a total picture to be symmetrical when evoking an image of order and to be asymmetrical when reflecting randomness or chaos.