More than just making it pretty...
August 27, 2001
Unfortunately, too many people in the information architecture, user interface and usability professions seem to regard visual design as simply being about aesethetics—making things pretty in other words. But visual design is also about "form," that's to say, using the "functional" aspects of appearance to help communicate and to help aid usability.

The Poynter Institute—an American thinktank for journalists—has put together an interactive Flash presentation about color, contrast and dimension applied to news design. The presentation starts off with examples of general principles, with some interactive exercises, then moves onto numerous specific examples from newspapers and magazines. While it doesn't contain examples of form applied to user interface design—how you might use color coding to differentiate sections, or shading to help make clear that something is a button—it does show how visual design can add to communication.

The one major flaw is it's a pretty linear presentation, making it hard to get back to specific examples. It's also a bit large, but worth waiting for the download. ::

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