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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2010
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 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2009
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 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2010
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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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2010
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
First, this book is gorgeous. Your eyes will feast on the many, full-color, high-quality images from designers all over the world. But more important, the examples are organized into principles that will help you create graphics that help people understand what you are saying and remember your message as well. I go back to this book regularly and always learn something new.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2011
I read a lot of books of design and visual communication. Often, they prove either overly academic and textual without enough actual visual examples or they end up being just a yearbook of pretty designs.

Connie Malamed's Visual Language for Designers is a remarkable and well-researched book that not only lays out the principles and techniques of how designers communicate with graphics, but includes hundreds of excellent examples from a wide variety of international designers. And refreshingly, there is not a single negative example: Bucking the current trend of writers pontificating about what NOT to do (and often showing BADLY designed examples), all of the included graphics are successful examples of the specific design principles discussed.

The book functions on many levels--from beautiful coffee table book to scientific study to design textbook. As such, it should appeal to numerous audiences. The only caution I would give is to those looking for a step by step "how to be a graphic designer" reference. This isn't it. Connie does address basic (and advanced) design principles, but does so through scientific and cognitive lenses. Therefore, when discussing "eye gaze," she doesn't stop at simply saying that one should generally have the eyes of a photo subject look inward on a page. She goes further, referencing "neuropsychological" and "neurophysiological" theories, and then through multiple visual examples shows how to employ this principle to very different ends. Though very accessible and readable, it is still a sophisticated book for a sophisticated audience.

Just as with any form of art, it can often be a mystery as to just why a graphic design succeeds or fails. Connie breaks down much of the mystery to show that there is actually a visual language and there are concrete techniques used by designers to communicate effectively--even though I am sure she would agree that designers are not always conscious of their use of this language.
After an introduction of how we process visual information, Connie divides the book into 6 principles:

* Organize for Perception
* Direct the Eyes
* Reduce Realism
* Make the Abstract Concrete
* Clarify Complexity
* Charge it Up

Each section examines the science of the principle, then discusses how to apply it in practice through various techniques. And on every page the reader is given multiple relevant examples--each one getting its own straightforward description.

If you're a graphic designer or the kind of person interested in visual communications or one of those people with the suite of Edward Tufte books on their desk, you need to add Visual Language for Designers to your collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2010
This is the best book on meaningful design that I have ever encountered. It's well-written, clear, and packed with a wide variety of examples of thoughtful and powerful design.

Graphic designers have the power to make sense of information in ways that transcends language, and Malamed shows them how to do it right.

Malamed's approach to the subject is uniquely holistic. She successfully guides readers through fundamental design principles, deep research into cognition, and further research into human emotion. I've never encountered a book that even attempts to juggle all of these important concepts.

What's particularly new and useful is the attention given to emotional design. Many information designers scoff at design flourishes as being distracting or unnecessary "fluff" or "junk." Malamed teaches designers to recognize the power of artistry in making designs more eye-catching, more memorable, and more emotionally resonant. There's no need to eschew beauty when it can be a powerful teaching tool.

As we continue to be inundated by data and information, I can only hope that more designers pick up and read this excellent book. At the very least, it's full of beautiful pictures!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2011
Educational and entertaining are the two words that come to mind when considering this book. As an educator, those are two of the highest compliments I can grant a book. The graphics illustrate the author's points beautifully and are informative themselves which adds to the value. Malamed is an exceptional writer with wonderful word choices and phrasing that enhances the reading experience. I feel more competent in my ability to really look at graphic design and now consider the various aspects behind the visual representation. Employing this as a "coffee table" book will provide interest to anyone who browses through it so I suggest not hiding it on a bookshelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2011
This book is very well written and easy to follow. It contains a great introduction to the principles of graphic design. It clearly outlines various principles through the use of examples and then provides practical advice for applying those principles to your work. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in creating more understandable and engaging infographics!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2012
Comprehensive review of the power of graphics, logos, charts, in order to make the complex world more understandable. Also cover how the human brain perceives the visual world.
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