MarkDWest – ScribbleLive http://www.scribblelive.com ScribbleLive is the leading end-to-end platform for content marketing engagement. Tue, 26 Jul 2016 19:49:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://s3.amazonaws.com/scribblelive-com-prod/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/favicon-91x80.png MarkDWest – ScribbleLive http://www.scribblelive.com 32 32 Looking at the Pieces: Using Symbols & Icons in Your Visual Story http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/01/03/looking-at-the-pieces-using-symbols-icons-in-your-visual-story/ Thu, 03 Jan 2013 19:00:37 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/01/03/looking-at-the-pieces-using-symbols-icons-in-your-visual-story/ Last month, Visually teamed up with Wiley & Sons Publishing to give away three free copies of Stories That Move Mountains. We have selected the winners through a random drawing and have notified them by replying to their comments on the original article. Congrats to the winners! As one of Read more...

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Last month, Visually teamed up with Wiley & Sons Publishing to give away three free copies of Stories That Move Mountains. We have selected the winners through a random drawing and have notified them by replying to their comments on the original article. Congrats to the winners! As one of the co-authors of Stories That Move Mountains, one of my biggest goals is to bring useful design tips to people that may not design every day. Stories That Move Mountains describes the CAST process, which involves developing strong content, identifying your audience and knowing everything about them, determining the best story to communicate, and putting it all together in a successful presentation that can bring forth the desired change. Here, we focus on how to put together some of the pieces of a cohesive final presentation — specifically, symbols and icons. Now, we’re not talking about Marilyn Monroe or other cultural icons, we’re talking about graphic representations of ideas, concepts or things. “Things” that could be a role within an organization, it could be part of a process, or it could be a deliverable of that process, but it all comes down to how you want to code the content. These are elements that may be needed to show the problem you are trying to solve, and we’re assuming you have already determined use of an icon is the best method, as opposed to a photo, text, etc. In most cases, symbols and icons help to represent parts of a more complex process of some kind. Now that we’ve nailed down the context… This is a four-part study. 1. So here you are, unsure how to proceed with developing some relevant visuals. Go to the whiteboard and mindmap, based on a key-word surrounding the icon you need to represent. Chances are you have multiple elements you need to represent, so create a mindmap for each one to determine key words, elements or items that relate to them, so you can determine what the icon might have for a “subject.” Put aside your mindmaps momentarily now and proceed to step two. 2. Icons, symbols or signs have actually been studied. The study, called “Semiotics,” determined that there are several icon creation methods—meaning the icon may not always need to be a “thing.” In the book for instance, I reference fire. If you are depicting fire, it could be an actual graphic icon/symbol of fire, it could be the word fire, or it could be something that hints to fire—like smoke or a firefighter’s hat. Often times, the straight-forward graphic of fire will work just fine: then it’s just a matter of determining style, which we’ll get into shortly. Just remember that when it comes to coding your page, icons can be as simple as a shape that acts as an identifier, or as complex as an illustration. In most cases, though, they are simple enough to work small on a page that contains other elements. 3. LOOK OUT, it might get messy! Now take some of the more significant words and findings from your mindmap and use them to search for icons online (for reference and inspiration only). What do you like? Why? Now let’s stretch a bit. You have determined your approach, and assuming you have an icon set—meaning more than one—you need to make sure they work together. They should have a similar style and feel—and since they are probably meant to be part of a bigger picture, they should be fairly simple and effective at smaller sizes. What does “style and feel” mean? Is it “loose” or refined, does it break the boundaries or stay neatly within? Is it daring, loose and reckless or mild-mannered and understated? How does that line feel? In classes, I have always challenged students with that last question. Pay attention to the very nature and details of the shapes and lines, for both consistency and how they feel—or the impression they give you or your audience (test them out on some trusted colleagues). Truth and perception is in the details… because taken as a whole, all these little things make a difference to your audience. You should use similar treatments to lines and line weights, shapes, and colors. Beyond that, it’s about seeing them together, and making sure that any one of them doesn’t stick out or draw unwanted attention. Mind you, like I’m implying here, you may WANT one of them to draw attention, so just make sure it’s justified. Sometimes simply changing the icon color to warm colors will attract (cool colors recede), and the line weight stays the same. 4. Lastly, implement them on your page. Whether part of a layout or an infographic, make sure they work with the other elements on the page, and fine-tune as needed. Icons rarely will sit alone in your presentation. They are made to visually code the content when text or other imagery is not the right choice. Not only do they provide variety, but we all know reading a presentation is not the best way to affect change—especially if you’re speaking at the same time. You may even want to get your first drafts onto your visual story sooner, because seeing them together as a whole could change everything. Make all attempts to reference the elements directly on the page is coding or defining is needed—meaning tell us once wit a direct reference and let the audience do the rest. You set it up, and the audience engages in their own way. That’s what we call creating a visual bombshell instead of bullets—PowerPoint pun intended. Good luck! Mark D. West is one of the authors on Stories That Move Mountains, a book about using stories and visuals to make top notch presentations.

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Seeing is Believing: A Designerly “how-to” for “non-designers” http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/12/13/seeing-is-believing-a-designerly-how-to-for-non-designers/ Thu, 13 Dec 2012 19:00:46 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/12/13/seeing-is-believing-a-designerly-how-to-for-non-designers/ Mark D. West is one of the authors on Stories That Move Mountains, a book about using stories and visuals to make top notch presentations. We’re teaming up with Wiley & Sons Publishing to give away three free copies of the book, just leave a comment with a tip for Read more...

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Mark D. West is one of the authors on Stories That Move Mountains, a book about using stories and visuals to make top notch presentations. We’re teaming up with Wiley & Sons Publishing to give away three free copies of the book, just leave a comment with a tip for making great visual presentations to enter into the random drawing! Publication Date: December 17, 2012 ISBN-10: 1118423992 ISBN-13: 978-1118423998 Edition: 1   So you’ve got some killer content, you’ve identified your audience and you know them well, and you even know the story you want to tell. Now it’s just you and your computer, notebook, pencils, markers… and a dry-erase board—if you’re feeling adventurous. You would LOVE to go hire a graphic designer—and heck, you might even still do that, but the budget for your new initiative it TIGHT. You need to at least TRY doing this yourself. Should you risk it? WHY NOT! The first rule is to pay attention to how often you use CAPS—sorry I couldn’t resist. But seriously… I am one of the co-authors of a new book called Stories that Move Mountains, and in this book we cover a process that takes you from content, through audience analysis, and story structure, to creating great designs and telling an engaging story—it’s called “CAST.” In this post I’m going to just focus on what you can do with the design stage (“tell”) once you have all the content worked out.  
  1. The real first rule: be patient. Creating a compelling presentation is going to involve trying some things—and this whole design thing may (or may not) be new to you—you’ve got to go easy on yourself. Realize that you will only get better over time.
  2. Yes, design involves a “visual eye,” but it also involves the ability to compare and contrast elements as you try things. Oh, remember I mentioned trying things? Time to jump in!
  3. By example, let’s focus on three primary design principles: scale (the sizing of elements), color and font choices. With each one of these things, we’ll ask similar questions. It’s assumed you are familiar with graphics or presentation software of your choice. You should be able to ask these same questions for just about all design principles, as discussed in the book, but at the end of the day, it tends to come down to these items when focused on your final visual delivery:
    • “What do I want to see first?” (This is hierarchy, to make sure your message is clear).
    • “How does the arrangement of elements feel?” (This is the squint test/Gestalt, and how the pieces are perceived as a whole).
    • And then: compare and contrast as you change things. It takes little discipline at first, but over time, it will come more naturally.
  4. Consider the form your content will take on the page. Should it be a shape? An illustration? Should it be read as text? A combination of these items? What’s color(s) will you use, and how will colors and other elements be taken together as a whole? (That’s the “how does it feel” part).
  5. You have decided on some content that needs to be in font form, as well as other shapes that need a color scheme.
  6. Scale: This concept seems simple, and it probably IS the simplest of our three example principles. Lead with the question, “how large should this grouping of elements or single element be in relation to what’s around it?” Scale it up and down (be careful to scale proportionately)—and then compare, asking: “how does it feel when I do that?” Compare and contrast.
  7. Color: Color involves many choices, including how it’s interpreted across cultures. That said, it’s also important to see how it looks, and develop some kind of color palette or combination that not only is interpreted correctly in your coding system, but also feels right together. Invest in a color wheel, a book on color, or for the most dynamic reference, a book on color combinations—a great example being the Color Index, by Jim Krause. Color your shapes, elements, type, etc. and then compare and contrast. Okay, is there a pattern starting to emerge here? Try combinations that involve warm and cool colors, remembering that warm colors attract and cool recede.  You’ll definitely know you have a problem when you stare a little too long, and a certain color combination leaves an “afterimage” on your retinas! When using a palette of colors, they all need to “harmonize” together, and an easy way to do that is by using similar color saturations (pastels being an example). If using a palette with one or two colors that are more saturated than the others, realize that those will “pop out” a little more than others.
  8. Type choices: Type is one of the most underrated and overlooked aspects of design—and it is meant to be seen AND read. Jim’s also got a Type Idea Index too. Start by determining a headline and put it side-by-side with the same text set in another font—also try adjusting the size. Do this for anywhere from 2-5 fonts (same text): and compare and contrast. Realize that even your smaller copy will affect the feel of your design. Try different fonts with any smaller copy, remembering that too much text in a presentation will end up leaving your audience conflicted… as they will want to read the text and listen to you at the same time. Regardless, all text should be taken as a whole, and you should ask how it feels when taken in its entirety, which is a great segue to…
  9. Start putting the whole lot together. How do all of the elements feel when taken as a whole? Try a few revisions—especially in scale and precise placement and then—yes—you guessed it: compare and contrast.

And if all of that seems a bit too complex for your tastes, you can always head on over to the Visually Marketplace!

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