Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand by Connie Malamed

Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand

byConnie Malamed

Paperback | October 1, 2011

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Within every picture is a hidden language that conveys a message, whether it is intended or not. This language is based on the ways people perceive and process visual information. By understanding visual language as the interface between a graphic and a viewer, designers and illustrators can learn to inform with accuracy and power.

In a time of unprecedented competition for audience attention and with an increasing demand for complex graphics, Visual Language for Designers explains how to achieve quick and effective communications. New in paperback, this book presents ways to design for the strengths of our innate mental capacities and to compensate for our cognitive limitations.

Visual Language for Designers includes:

—How to organize graphics for quick perception

—How to direct the eyes to essential information

—How to use visual shorthand for efficient communication

—How to make abstract ideas concrete

—How to best express visual complexity

—How to charge a graphic with energy and emotion

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.

Details & Specs

Title:Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People UnderstandFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 11 × 8.5 × 0.75 inPublished:October 1, 2011Publisher:Rockport PublishersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1592537413

ISBN - 13:9781592537419

Customer Reviews of Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand


Extra Content

Table of Contents



An explanation of how we process visual information


Organize for Perception

Features that Pop Out

Texture Segregation


Direct the Eyes




Eye Gaze

Visual Cues

Reduce Realism

Visual Noise


Iconic Forms

Line Art


Make the Abstract Concrete

Big-Picture Views

Data Displays

Visualization of Information

More than Geography

Snapshots of Time

Clarify Complexity

Segments and Sequences

Specialized Views

Inherent Structure

Charge It Up

Emotional Salience


Visual Metaphors

Novelty and Humor


Glossary of Terms

Sources Cited

Directory of Contributors

Editorial Reviews

Malamed, Connie. Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics That People Understand. Rockport: Quayside. 2009. 240p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 978-1-59253-515-6. $40. GRAPHIC ARTS E-learning, visual communication, and design consultant Malamed sums up the crux of her book: “poor design is a major reason why information is misinterpreted,” and all of the graphic imagery and text she includes are committed to trying to distinguish between good and poor design. The dozens of images contributed by designers all over the world are absorbing, but a large percentage is reproduced at a scale that makes reading their text difficult or impossible. Their visual success may be evident, but whether they function well as conveyors of information is sometimes difficult to judge. In the accompanying text, Malamed explores cognitive psychology with jargon like “texture segregation,” “preattentive processing,” and “primitive features,” none of which are defined in the 11-item glossary. If the reader sticks with the text, everything eventually is explained, but this volume is not effortless. Verdict This is much less a how-to than a solid intellectual underpinning of perceptual psychology; although the perceptual psychology is discussed in detail, the actual ideas involved in the graphic imagery are never analyzed. For design students and professionals. -- Library Journal, July 2009