13 September 2015
Let’s pick up where we left off—with proximity. We’ll start there and then add in the remaining three principles (alignment, contrast, repetition) from Robin Williams, the designer.
Williams’ books have great examples and I highly recommend them. However, you can get the gist from a simple powerpoint slide, starting with Redmond’s defaults and then improving in each of the four dimensions. Here we go!
First, apologies that I didn’t snag these with a border around them. Second, apologies that they’re a little on the small side… I’m not seeing how I used to resize photos in WordPress anymore. I’m sure there’s a way beyond the “small,” “medium,” large” default choices. This comes under the category of good enough for now.
Okay, moving back to the point.
Example #1. Basic slide with powerpoint defaults. This slide violates all Williams’ principles except alignment.
But since I said proximity was the principle people get so wrong so often and getting it right makes such a big difference, let’s fix that first. Same slide but with a proximity improvement:
Note how it’s easier to see that the second bullet belongs with the dashes below it, not the dash above it.
But it could be better.
Let’s add a little contrast, and make the bullet text larger and the dash text smaller. Note: if the level of contrast is such that it’s hard to tell them apart, then you haven’t used enough contrast.
The slide above also uses repetition, sort of. The slide is already consistently repeating bullets and dashes, and using the same font. But the little circles don’t relate well graphically to dashes, so I changed the circle to squares.
However, it’s still a booooring slide and when you have a booooring slide you know you’re not pushing the edges. So let’s push the edges a little bit, and use just a little bit more contrast:
Not an earthshaking slide by any stretch. But much better than what we started with.
And the voice that is ringing in my ears is that of Professor Cagliotti, my drawing teacher in college who had his own rant, in his booming voice: “MAKE NO RANDOM MARKS!” His point was that everything that goes on the paper–a line, a squiggle, a dot–should be intentional. You could say the same applies to slide formats. Make no random bullets or font size or spacing decisions. Be intentional.
I do not expect to make any more forays into the world of graphic design. Instead, I’m moving on to my next writing project.
As you know I was dragging my skull along the sidewalk, trying to pick up ideas for a novel because I thought if I wrote a novel then I would be a Real Writer. But alas, no novel ideas were forthcoming. But. Then. I got agitated about something and it’s a something many people probably think is a small something but it has a big impact and my head started spinning so I said to myself, “If you were going to write about this, what would be your topics?”
Putting one idea per post-it note and writing as quickly as I could, ten minutes later I wound up with this:
So, not what I planned and not at all good cocktail conversation because it would sound like this,
Them: “I hear you’re working on a book.”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
Them: “What’s it about?”
Me: “It’s a book for women on how to dress to be taken seriously in conservative workplaces.”
Me: “It may seem like it doesn’t matter, but it does. The female role models for women who aspire to executive positions are disappearing. Male newscasters haven’t changed their uniform since TV screens were black & white, but women newscasters, it’s all about the biceps these days. Men have these suits of armor and women have twin sets and–”
Them: “That sounds, uh, really interesting. Hey, I think I need to get a refill.”
Me: “Okay. Bye….”
But whatchagonna do? In the absence of other plans, I”m going where the spirit moves me.
Like the last one, it will all post here first. Unlike the last one, there will be no compelling plot line. Consider yourself forewarned.