Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Avoid Visual Clutter

“For the designer (or artist), focus, calm, gentleness, and vision are more important qualities
than raw enthusiasm. Slow down your busy mind.”

Ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement, “sees space not as something to fill in or use, but rather as an element to be created, preserved, and respected.” It is “the void or pause that gives shape to the whole. . . . An ikebana artist learns to leave room between the branches to allow a figurative breeze to pass through and rustle the branches, just as would occur in the natural world.”

In Presentation Zen Design, Garr Reynolds outlines a number of different ways to avoid visual clutter and to use empty space to shape our presentations:

• Asymmetry provides movement and balance;

• Full-screen images and images or text on an angle are dynamic;

• Create implied space by bleeding images off the edge of the slide (our imagination will fill in what is happening just off stage); and

• Add depth through layering and shadows.

Reynolds also introduces the Gestalt theories of visual perception, which emphasize that it is the relationship between the individual elements, rather than the elements themselves, that creates harmony and meaning.

The most important elements should stand out clearly against the background. However, we may be able to create a dynamic tension as the viewer’s gaze shifts from one part of the slide to another.

Note: The slides represent my attempts to incorporate some of Garr Reynolds' suggestions into a presentation on business writing.

See Also:
     Type Zen
     Signal vs. Noise

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