“Good design is a lot like clear thinking made visual”

-Edward Tufte

Have a Vision – Have a Mission


Self Similarity
A property in which a form is made up of parts similar to the whole or to one another.

I’ve seen this one before; the image of the Mona Lisa recreated using a variety of specially selected images to match the correct color hues in the painting – incredible.  There is another one our saw recently of Martin Luther King image recreated by rearranging colors of the Rubiks Cube.  This recreation includes a process called recursion (naturally occurring self-similarity)

I would be great if I can find and opportunity to use this design principle when incorporating story telling in my E-Lessons!!

Self Similarity

Mnemonic Device

Mnemonic Device
Great for designing company logo’s, or coming up with a brand identity to make it memorable but in a way that is out of the ordinary, exaggerated.  In creating my e-lesson, I sometime look for a visual identity to a module or a topic I teach, this Mnemonic Device method has inspired me to look at designing a signature image for e-lessons rather than using stock photo – be more creative!  Things I will keep in mind when designing:

  • First Letter – Create Catchy Phrases or Acronyms to assist in remembering important words i.e. to remember the arithmetic order of operations: Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction can be remember by this catchy phrase “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”
  • Key Word- for example the AFLAC Commercial that uses the word and makes it sound like a duck (Duck in the advertising is the bridging image)
  • Rhyme – Use rhymes to remember i.e. I will never forget my elementary school grammar teacher taught me “I before e, except after c”  I still use it to remember.  Or that clever song to remember the provinces of Canada are “fun to remember” LOL
  • Feature Name –A word that is related to the image/ object i.e. Volkswagon Beetle names after a Beetle again serving as a bridging image when you take its biological name sake and combine it with the care itself.

Horror Vacui

Horror Vacui
Had to read about this one, it implied shopping and window displays of clothing shops!  I love to shop so my curiosity was peaked not to mention the interesting name, LOL.

Horror Vacui refers to the fear of emptiness (opposite of minimalist) and the value perception; that is as Horror Vacui increases Value decreases or increases.  Depending on who is viewing this; the person who is accustomed to having more – Less is more, for the person who is accustomed to having less, more is more.  This is why bulk shops try to fill stores and displays as much as possible and sell for less while boutique shops take a minimalist approach and sell for more.

In designing my e-lesson, I will apply the “Less is More” approach to reduce clutter, create clarity and better understanding of content through less images of higher quality.

Face-ism Ratio

Face-ism Ratio
This image appealed to me as most of my lessons involve people and interactions. I use many images of people interacting with one another as well as video’s using our team members.  Image perception is important in the visual design of my E-Lessons  especially as it related to certain topics.  In this section I learned that the higher the Face-ism ratio (close to the face itself) more focus and attention is on the person’s intellectual and personality attributes, where as the lower the Face-ism ratio, more focus and attention is on the physical and sensual attributes of the individual.

To calculate the Face-ism ration:

  1. take the head height (top of head to bottom of chin) and divide by
  2. the total visible height (the top of head to lowest visible part of body)
  • Image without face = 0 Fascism Ratio (lowest) Used for Ornamental interpretations/ association
  • Image with only a face = 1 Face-ism Ration (highest) Used for thoughtful interpretations/ associations

The closer the score is to 1, the more likely the perception will be that the image represents a more dominant, intelligent and ambitious individual and vise versa.

Classic Conditioning

Classical Conditioning
This image was one of the very first images that jumped out at me when going through the VDDI book.  It sends a powerful and emotional message about the severity and consequences of drunk driving.  It depicts a young  victim, who survived a horrible accident caused by impaired driving and now has to live with the consequence of an severely altered appearance for the rest of her life. This poster compares the before and after image associates the strong negative emotional reaction evoked by the injuries and the behavior that caused it.

Classical Conditioning is a technique used to associate reactions resulting from an unconscious physical or emotional response. This technique is commonly used in dog training.  Having a dog myself, it’s very clear to me that my dog performs tricks knowing that a reward (a doggy treat) will be given in return.  The sound of a key in the door, creates excitement knowing that his mommy and daddy have arrived home.

Classical conditioning will be used in my E-lesson design to evoke positive emotional feelings as being elicited by our guests as a result of our reactions or thoughtful behaviors.


VDDI Hierarchy of Needs

The same way a human survives by fulfilling their most basic need to survive Food, Water, Shelter ect. through the “Physiological Needs”, a strong visual design must meet the most basic need of “Functionality” before it can even consider satisfying the higher level needs. Here’s the chronological breakdown of the VDDI Hierarchy of needs starting with the “low level” needs:

Functionality – Does it work?

Reliability – Does it work consistently and of acceptable quality?

Usability – Is it easy for all users (regardless of physical abilities/ accessibility including perceptibility, operability, simplicity and forgiveness W3C guidelines)?

Proficiency – Does it achieve the outcome of doing things better than they could previously?

Creativity – Does user interact with design in innovative ways?

I feel this comparison visually displays the correlation of human needs and visual design needs but in VDDI terms; as if it were translated into a different language.

Nature or Nurture?

Nature or Nurture? – The Biophilia Effect and Savanna Preference
It’s no wonder why these two principles of design are apparent in our existing era; although we have evolved as a species, our desire to be surrounded in environments that are rich in nature views and open spaces are deeply rooted in our brains since the beginning of time.

The Biophilia Effect is most effective when used to design in environments of learning, healing and concentration using imagery that resembles natural environments like greenery or outdoor nature views.

The Savanna Preference focuses on design that uses lots of lush open spaces like scattered tress, water, uniform grassiness as opposed to desserts, dense jungles or complex mountains with obstructed views.  Going back to our ancestors and the need for survival, the preference was open spaces with more visibility and less obstruction especially when keeping an eye out for predators.  One other distinct difference with the Savanna preference is that its strongest with children and then eventually grows weaker with age as influences change.

Color me happy

Color can have a significant impact on the overall design used not just for aesthetic purposes but also to attract attention, group elements and indicate meaning.

Symbolism – After visiting several sites depicting ancient pictographs, it became more evident that colors can have several meanings depending on cultures.

Number of colors– To simplify images, best to stay within a 5 color maximum.  When picking color combinations stick to the color wheel combinations such as:

  • Analogous – combination of adjacent opposing colors
  • Complimentary – combination of opposing colors
  • Quadratic or Triadic  – combination of symmetric colors indicated by a square or triangle

Saturation  – +/- Gray where Darker colors are more serious or professional and lighter colors get more exciting and dynamic

The Red Effect – For women, wearing the color red is perceived as more attractive and for men, red signifies dominance.  Although sensitive to context, and usually used in advertising and product design the Red Effect general is related to female sexuality (clothes accentuating red lips or cheeks ) and male dominance (sports car or wearing a red tie)

Infographics and Typography

The effective uses of infographics and typography

Focus on patterns, colors and shapes, our sense of sight is very sensitive to these factors.  Visualizing information through infographics happens so quickly and it can make or break the success of the transfer of knowledge and understanding.

This will be beneficial in cases where the e-lessons I will be creating target a broad audience with varying degrees of technical knowledge, different learning styles and in situations where English is a second language. It will assist learners to“see what others think”.

The idea of knowledge compression through infographics excites me in a way that I can keep my e-lessons interesting and reduce the length of the lesson itself without sacrificing content

Design is about solving problems and creating elegant solutions

Even though the information may not be beautiful, the visual design of it can be when following the design principles

Making information beautiful can assist in the ease of understanding and makes learning fun

After viewing this video, it inspired me to learn more about how I can create visually appealing infographics and typography.  After navigating through the web, these two video’s helped me get started and have been included in my Design Blog:

How to create infografics :


That sounds delicious

That sounds (aka tone) delicious (flavor) are all useful techniques in getting the message across and making information memorable.

TONE – is my content

  • Technical
  • Formal
  • Personal
  • Promotional

FLAVOR – is my creative license

  • Humor
  • Metaphors
  • Anecdotes
  • Case Study

Adult learn by adopting the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) approach!  Remember that the website has a good balance of meaning, content and design.

Set a rhythm and be consistent when creating headings.  It can be a question, sentence, phrase, call for action or imperative.

Linguistic patterns also add interest to content for example:
Play on words: using puns, similes and metaphors
Dictionary Definitions
Word Connotations (writing/ scribbling)
Word Associations (laugh/Joke)

Add meaning with descriptions/ adjectives.  Use cliches i.e. “think outside the box”

Proper use of links

When creating sites or learning activities, links should not be the source of the content.  Allow the reader to get the gist of this information by the information chunk that was provided in the content.  The misuse of links can be distracting as they are usually identified by a different color or underlined. Another pitfall to added too many links is that it can cause a tangent, spinning users out of control forgetting how they got there in the first place and what was their original intent!  Links half way through can also break readers train of concentration.

Think and divide


OMIT – if you don’t need it
EDIT – if you can say it in fewer words
CUT- if it doesn’t fit



CIRCLE – group related items
NUMBER- hierarchy of information
STRIKE IT OUT – serparate important info

I’m on my way!

Wayfinding refers to the process of  using space and environment to navigating towards a destination.  Just like visual maps help us navigate through a particular space or environment, websites and e-lessons are no different.

There are four distinct stages to wayfinind:

  • Orientation – uses landmarks or object near by to identify current location.  As indicated by the “You are here” sign on many maps
  • Route Decision – refers to the decisions made in order to get to destination.  Research shows that people are more likely to find and take the shortest route
  • Rout Monitoring – the way of gauging progress.  Breadcrumbs are visual cues that highlight the path taken
  • Destination Recognition – clearly identified to communicate you have arrived!

Once upon a time, long long ago…

Yes, today’s blog is about Storytelling
As an expansion to the sixth variable indicated in the Stickiness principle, the Storytelling principle is one that resonated strongly with me as I am part of an organization that promotes a strong storytelling culture.  Working in the hospitality industry, you know that it is about making those emotional connections with our guests’, it’s about being less transactional more interactional.  We are a team that celebrates successes and share stories about how we create positive memories for our guests and when we do this, we motivate and inspire each other to empower ourselves to initiate hospitality and put our own spin on creating memorable experiences for our guests.  Part of my goal this year is putting together e-lessons for a broad range of colleagues from Front Desk to Housekeeping to Kitchen – it is my mission to ensure I deliver elements of storytelling in E-lessons with the intent of sparking an emotional response in a colleague to live and breathe our strong experience culture. I intend to incorporate understanding through Audio (oral) Visual (video) Text (on screen info) and Digital (by incorporating elements of FLASH design wherever appropriate and current/ relevant forms of social media or youtube clips.  Here’s my interpretation of the six fundamental elements to effective storytelling:

  • Setting – Time and Place through video clips
  • Characters – Will be our own colleagues acting out scenes
  • Plot – Company Standards linking back to our Vision, Mission and Core Values
  • Invisibility – MY FAVORITE!! I want learners to be so engrossed in the e-lesson that they forget the medium (the computer) which for some learners may be a challenge or have initial fear/ anxiety/ reluctance.
  • Mood – Will use background music on title screen and create an overall mood of being Welcoming, Engaging and Empowered through interactive games, quizzes and videos.
  • Movement – Will have a consistent flow designed for learners to go at their own pace and not exceed and average completion time of 25 minutes.

Keep at it till it “sticks”

Refers to the ability to recall ideas or expressions that “stick” in our memories like catchy slogans or ads. This applies to anything that can be seen, heard or touched and has six variables:

1)      Simplicity – I like to describe as something that is “short and sweet”

2)      Surprise – attention grabber, a shocking fact, image or sound that resonates with you

3)      Concreteness – a specific ideas/ concept described in “lemans terms”

4)      Credibility – coming from a trusted source

5)      Emotion – concept or idea makes resonates with you and elicits a feeling

6)      Story – expressed in a context of a story

Next time, when I think back to Millers Rule of “The magical number seven, plus or minus two” I will be sure to incorporate the Stickiness in the design of my e-lessons.