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Visual Thinking: for Design (Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies) 1st Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0123708960
ISBN-10: 0123708966
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Editorial Reviews


“Through a detailed analysis of the mechanics of visual cognition, this book teaches us how to see as designers, by anticipating how others will see our designs. Ware summarizes the thread of inquiry that leads through Goethe, Klee, Arnheim, Gibson and Tufte, sifting it for relevance to the artful science of visualization, and condensing it into one eminently readable volume.” - Fritz Drury, Professor of Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design

“All the clanking gears are here: variable resolution image detection, eye movements, environmental information statistics, bottom-up/top-down control structures, working memory, the nexus of meaning, and specialized brain areas and pathways. By the time he’s done, Ware has reconstructed cognitive psychology, perception, information visualization, and design into an integrated modern form. This book is scary good.” - Stuart Card, Senior Research Fellow, and manager of the User Interface Research group at the Palo Alto Research Center

"In this fascinating new book, seasoned professionals, educators and students alike will find that Colin Ware has written an incredibly accessible text that translates years of scientific research into concrete design applications. In a clear and effective manner, Ware provides a comprehensive introduction to the interrelationships among the physiological and cognitive components through which humans process and understand the visual world. This scientific perspective for graphic design provides an additional dimension for discussing the reasoning behind design choices while remaining adaptable to the shifting contexts in which these choices occur." -Paul Catanese. Assistant Professor of New Media, San Francisco State University

About the Author

The author takes the "visual" in visualization very seriously. Colin Ware has advanced degrees in both computer science (MMath, Waterloo) and the psychology of perception (Ph.D., Toronto). He has published over a hundred articles in scientific and technical journals and at leading conferences, many of which relate to the use of color, texture, motion, and 3D in information visualization. In addition to his research, Professor Ware also builds useful visualization software systems. He has been involved in developing 3D interactive visualization systems for ocean mapping for over twelve years, and he directed the development of the NestedVision3D system for visualizing very large networks of information. Both of these projects led to commercial spin-offs. Professor. Ware recently moved from the University of New Brunswick in Canada to direct the Data Visualization Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.

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Product Details

  • Series: Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 1 edition (April 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0123708966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0123708960
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Aneesh Karve on May 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
interaction designers, visual designers, researchers, people working in visualization, and the curious will find value in this book. careful readers will gain a deep understanding of how, why, and what we see. this understanding will inform the use of color, edges, contours, textures, layout, text, images, order and motion. designers will gain a new vista for critique and empathy: "which visual queries does this design imply? how well does it support those queries? how costly are they?" (a "visual query"--there's a more elegant definition in the book--is a question that is asked and answered with the eyes. for example, "which of these two items is larger?")

readers may come to appreciate just how mental, rather than mechanical, the act of vision is. they may also come to appreciate the preponderance of information that resides in the world, rather than the brain; and, on the other hand, the preponderance of information that the brain adds, via processing, to the incoming signal. vision and cognition interpenetrate to form a beautiful "strange loop" wherein what we seek influences what we see, and vice versa.

if i were asked to compose a canon of interaction design, this book would be in it, alongside About Face 3, Sketching User Experiences, and Envisioning Information.

one criticism: in my personal opinion, some of the designs and diagrams in the book are less than beautiful. this engenders a mild disconnect between the purpose and execution of the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BOVERIO ANTONELLO on March 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a former biologist, venturing into software about 30 years ago, I found reading this book an enlighting experience. This is a must-read for anyone who never clearly knew why some visual designs are better than others but suspected there had to be a physiological reason. It is becoming a reference for my team of developers in the domain of numerical controls for industrial machine tools.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book provocative at multiple levels.

At the strategic level, although I have known about and followed Elsevier for decades, I am beginning to perceive a more coherent publishing strategy, and was pleased to see notice of their collaboration with BookAid and the Sabre Foundation to create libraries in developing countries.

At the operational level, I found this book to be a fascinating easy to read and understand integration of cognitive science (what is the brain doing to "see" different forms of visual cues (colors, shapes, groups, etcetera), psychology, art, design, and ultimately engineering of both larger than human structures, and computer graphics.

At the tactical level, the book is clearly a superior collection of critical information and easily a required text for those who would design for the human eye. At this level I would have liked to see more depictions of both buildings and environments, and more depictions of computer screens.

The absence of Library of Congress cataloging data was also a disappointment. The Library of Congress is becoming archaic, I believe publishers are amply competent to provide their own cataloging data, and this is especially important when a book crosses disciplines, e.g. cognitive science, visual intelligence, art, design, computer graphics, etcetera. Indeed, in the process of assigning cataloguing data, the publisher might discover areas where the book is weaker than intended, and send it back for enhancement.

I recommend this book be expanded to add a chapter on "decision support" and an appendix on great practitioners of the visualization of information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ken B. Pierce Jr. on June 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is one of my most borrowed books. The color chapters and information on visual cues and category distinguishability were awesome. Probably stuff covered other places and this was my first intoduction, but I really benefited from reading this book.
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Colin Ware's Visual Thinking for Design is a good book, especially for visual designers who are curious to know the explanations of human perceptions in visual design. It is fascinating how he uses science and his experiences in visual design to teach and guide the designers in improving their design. Although I learned a lot from Colin Ware's book, there are number of improvements that I think would benefit the readers of the book:
*Adding a section addressing the issues concerned with intellectual property, copyright, fair use and open source or Creative Commons designs. I think that this is an important section, one that needs to be mentioned in any book of visual design. Designers can be pre-occupied with scoping, designing, testing, and other things, and it is easy to forget about protecting their work and themselves from legal actions.
*Colin Ware may have discussed other designers in his other books, but it would have been a good addition to see a designer's name he identifies with. There has got to be at least one designer that influence most of his design work. If there are multiple influences or if everything is original - that would have been good to see from the book too.
*Adding a section discussing a web style most beneficial to the users and that designers should adopt. Although he discussed some elements to help improve design in general, I did not see enough application with the web.
*It would be good to emphasize that there could be a setback on relying on colors alone. Samples showing this scenario could intensify the value of color coding and using it appropriately with texts and/or other elements.
*Adding some discussion on how people with certain handicaps vary in their visual thinking.
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