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Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand Hardcover – June 1, 2009

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Connie Malamed has a background in art and cognitive psychology, with a B.S. in Art Education and an M.A. in Instructional Design and Technology. She is a consultant based in the Washington, D.C. area in the fields of e-learning, visual communication, media design, and information design.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Rockport Publishers (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592535151
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592535156
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Connie Malamed consults, speaks and writes in the fields of online learning, visual communication and information design. She has a Masters Degree in Instructional Technology and a background in Visual Arts. Her company, Connie Malamed Consulting, helps organizations produce a wide range of content, from eLearning courses to websites to information graphics. You can find out more at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By I Teach Typing on January 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books around on applying (perceptual/cognitive/research) psychological principals to graphics and visualizations. This book really stands out for three reasons, it's concise (but not overly brief) discussion of relevant psychology (memory/cognition/perception) plus the incredible examples for graphic designers and the set of references. The closest competitors are books by Few Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis (which covers similar psych issues but is horribly wordy) or Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data (which reads well but focuses more on clean scientific graphs) or the famous books by Tufte . Relative to other books, this one has a great deal more information on how to integrate art with information. After the book you will see graphics and think about how a designer could have done a better job in guiding the reader's eye to the intended information in a poster or how to design a better handout showing a process like how part of the body works or how to put together a complicated device. The graphics in the book REALLY stand out and support the authors writing. As a researcher I hate to see people state "facts" or "hypotheses" about how people think without providing supporting evidence. This book has a very respectable set of references. So, rather than pontificating about the "right" way to do graphics there are references to relevant (experimental psych) articles.

Basically, this book is the complete package. It could be a great coffee table book or on a shelf in a scientific library.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm on July 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book provides a wide-ranging and practical understanding of how humans interpret visual information, then describes principles for applying that knowledge to the creation of compelling, memorable and informative graphics. So often, graphic designers are trained to think in terms of visual elegance, but not in terms of how people perceive graphical information. This book fills in the knowledge gap for graphic designers as well as instructional designers and other professionals wondering how to best transmit complex information in a graphical format.

The collection of hundreds of contemporary graphic and information designs from around the world is stunning, and could have made a coffee table book or inspiration book on their own. The substantive text leads the reader on a journey to better understand the human mind and learn how to create more profound and valuable graphics. Expect this book to become a classic in design circles.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By K. Gude on May 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully designed and printed how-to book contains hundreds of images that are organized into chapters that explain a variety of key principles of visualization, from how to manipulate a viewer's eye to simplifying data and images. Most of the graphics in the book are spectacular while others aren't as effective at visualizing their content, but each one teaches a lesson and was chosen for that purpose. As the former director of information graphics at Newsweek and now a university instructor who teaches students how to visualize information, this book is as useful for professionals as it is for people who are new to the field of visualization, even though they may not have the skills to create many of the graphics shown. The fundamental principals of visualization outlined here apply to all ranges of imagery, from the fancy 3D model to an a simple idea scribbled on a napkin.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Opus22 on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After getting this book I was initially surprised and pleased in its presentation starting with it's cover and size, but it went downhill from there - well written but, for some reason after paging/reading through the book I only found a few of the graphic images to be above average, nothing outstanding. I cannot put my finger on it but I found that the images while somewhat supporting the text were not inspiring in them selves and in fact quite boring.

Using others work to support the ideas in the text is a good idea, but only after an original presentation by the author is made. I suspect that maybe they 'talked' and appealed to the author or why use them so they maybe reflect her sense of artistic appeal, and obviously connection to the points she is making. I'm thinking of returning it as it is not compelling. I gave it 3 stars for it's written content and attempt to provide supporting graphics associations but, for a graphics book, it is just not inspiring - I was looking for more.

That said, the cover design, book layout and presentation of the material is excellent.

After doing this review I re-read some of the other reviews as they played an important role in my purchase. I find some now suspicious IMHO.

Update - After working with the book I have lowered my rating - the graphics are outdated and not really connected to the point. I was/am looking for more original implementation of taking ideas and then by example filling in the graphical canvas - seeing how the author walks his talk so to speak. I was looking for more 'hands on help', and not hand waving on visual communication pointing to others creations. This book may be of more use to someone who is already well along (with talent too) in graphics design and implementation sense and not a beginner like me. I did purchase other books at the same time in this category and a couple of them have been outstanding.
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