Book Review: Visual Design Solutions by Connie Malamed
I had the pleasure this week of reading Connie Malamed‘s new book “Visual Design Solutions“. It’s a wonderfully laid out book that gives those new to the field of Learning an extensive and solid understanding of visual design principals. Yet, I found for those professionals that have been in the learning industry for some time the content is affirming and inspiring.
The title may say “…for Learning Professionals” and much of the wording throughout the book is about elearning, however I believe that anyone that is presenting information for the purpose of conveying a message can truly benefit from Connie’s new work. Covering everything from colour to typeface, white space to graphic backgrounds, and principles to practice, this book is filled with something for everyone that needs to enhance their visual design skillset and improve their methods of visual communication.
It’s a practical book that can be read all at once or picked up as a reference for learning more about a particular topic. Connie has wonderfully written the content in such a way that it is filled with all the language and terms of “the industry” but in such a way that it’s easily read, understood, and more importantly something that you’ll remember and be able to apply. The reader does not need to be an expert designer to understand the language, terminology or references, but by the end of it you’ll begin to feel as if you are an expert.
There were many things throughout the book for me that I was aware of already, so for these sections I felt the instruction helped me to affirm that I’m applying the skills in the proper method within my own design projects. There were also several sections of information that before reading this book I had not yet considered. I do know now that if it ever comes up at a cocktail party that I can explain where the bracket and bowl of a font lies.
Throughout the pages are, as you would imagine, diagrams and visuals to help explain some of the more visual design concepts. I found these images to be interesting as they represented the often forgotten or mishandled use of graphics, pictures, and fonts. (This below is to show how the use of ‘rules’ or lines can emphases specific text. Simple – maybe – but how often have you remembered or tried this technique?)
Other areas gave me ideas and solid foundational skills to work and improve upon to to enhance my own design planning and techniques. Specifically, after reading “Visual Design Solutions”, I want to work more on implementing and utilizing visual style guides. I knew after reading Connie’s chapter on ‘Work Like a Designer’ that I have been consciously choosing and using the visual elements that she lists. I have not however, been capturing them from project to project in a proper visual style guide. This is a new tool that I’m going to immediately add to my visual design toolbox. I know that by the end of the year I’ll have a comprehensive set of guides that can then be reference for future projects. In the short term, one can certainly see how creating these guides will make working on a project that much more streamline. It’s not as easy as it once was to remember if I used a 16pt font for the first 5 headings of my work or was it an 18pt font.
No matter your design experience level, Connie writes for any learning professional and hidden within the chapters is the odd little magical gem of a chuckle, at least for me (but I often only dress in black).
It was a great read for me as I came away with so many points of inspiration, ideas, and solutions for how I can and will approach the visual design of my future projects.