• Does the source have a reputation for honesty and reliability?
  • Is the source potentially biased?
  • What is the purpose of the material?
  •  Is the author credible?
  •  Where did the source get its information?
  • Can you verify the material independently?
  • Is the material current?
  • Is the material complete?
  • Are all claims supported with evidence?
  • Do the source’s claims stand up to logical scrutiny?

    Find a communication example that you believe could be improved by applying the visual design principles you read about this week. It can be from any medium – a webpage, a magazine ad, a promotional email, an illustration from a report, etc., as long as you can display it in the forum. Identify the visual weaknesses and describe ways to fix them. Explain why you believe the message isn't as effective as it could be and how your suggestions would make it more effective.
    Here is the reading material:

    Just as creating effective sentences and paragraphs requires working knowledge of the principles of good writing, creating effective visuals requires some knowledge of the principles of good design. Even though few businesspeople have the opportunity to formally study the “language” of line, mass, space, size, color, pattern, and texture, anyone can learn enough of the basic concepts to craft effective basic visuals.

    When you encounter visuals that you find appealing or unappealing, or effective or ineffective, stop and ask yourself what caused your response. Did a particular design grab you and practically force you to pay attention, or did you pass right by with hardly a notice? Did one chart reveal its information quickly and easily, while another made you spend time decoding its confusing message? Did one photo appeal to you at an emotional level and therefore draw you into a document, whereas another was offputting and caused you to lose interest in the document? By thinking about your own reactions to visual designs, you can become a more effective designer yourself.

    As you consider your reactions to various designs and create designs of your own, you’ll begin to see how six fundamental principles help distinguish ineffective and effective designs.

    Nearly every aspect of visual design is governed by conventions that set audience expectations.

    _ Consistency. Audiences view a series of visuals as a whole and assume that design elements will be consistent from one page to the next. Think of consistency as visual parallelism, in the same way that textual parallelism helps audiences understand and compare a series of ideas.7 You can achieve visual parallelism in a variety of ways, including through consistent use of color, shape, size, texture, position, scale, or typeface.

    Creating effective visuals requires basic knowledge of the principles of good design.

    _ Contrast. To emphasize differences, depict items in contrasting colors, shapes, or sizes. For example, to highlight the difference between two quantities in a pie chart, don’t use two shades of blue; instead, use blue for one and yellow or some other dramatically contrasting color for the other.

    _ Balance. Balance can be either formal, in which the elements in the images are arranged symmetrically around a central point or axis, or informal, in which elements are not distributed evenly, but stronger and weaker elements are arranged in a way that achieves an overall effect of balance. A common approach to informal balance is weighing one visually dominant element against several smaller or weaker elements.8 Generally speaking, formal balance is more calming and serious, whereas informal balance tends to feel more dynamic and engaging.

    _ Emphasis. Audiences usually assume that the dominant element in a design is the most important, so make sure that the visually dominant element really does represent the most important information. You can do so through color, position, size, or placement, for example. Conversely, be sure to visually downplay less important items. For instance, avoid using strong colors for minor support points, and deemphasize background features such as the grid lines on a chart.

    _ Convention. Visual communication is guided by a variety of generally accepted rules or conventions, just as written communication is guided by an array of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and usage conventions. These conventions dictate virtually every aspect of design.9 Moreover, many conventions are so ingrained that people don’t even realize they are following these rules. For example, if English is your native language, you assume that ideas progress across the page from left to right because that’s the direction in which English text is written. However, if you are a native Arabic or Hebrew speaker, you might automatically assume that flow on a page or screen is from right to left because that is the direction in which those languages are written. Similarly, Japanese audiences are used to reading publications from back to front, right to left. Flouting conventions often causes breakdowns in communication, but in some cases, it can be done to great effect.10 For instance, flipping an organization chart upside down to put the customers at the top, with frontline employees directly beneath them and on down to the chief executive at the bottom, can be an effective way to emphasize that customers come first and that the managers are responsible for supporting employees in their efforts to satisfy customers.








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