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Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand Paperback – October 1, 2011
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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. http://www.malamedconsulting.com
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Top customer reviews
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.
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!
Basically, this book is the complete package. It could be a great coffee table book or on a shelf in a scientific library.