Tag Archives: design

What’s really wrong with Comic Sans?

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Photo Credit: eanur0 via Compfight cc

 

The short answer is nothing and everything.

The long answer is still nothing and everything, but let’s explore why. Comic Sans, which was created by Vincent Connare was never meant to be used in the regular system of fonts available on a Windows PC (Source). It was created to solve an incongruity Connare noticed while he was working on Microsoft Bob, the interface designed to make the computer-using experience more palatable to novice computer users (Source). Connare noticed that while the interface was a cartoon, the characters’ text boxes uses Times New Roman. This didn’t make sense to Connare, so he created Comic Sans based on the style of Marvel and DC comics. So, the purpose of Comic Sans was to fit a very specific interface and experience–the comic, cartoon, animated experience. It was not meant to be used for business letters, websites, products, signage, CERN presentations, or tributes to retiring Popes. Christine Erickson of Mashable.com explains the source of Comic Sans’ bad rep: “While Comic Sans is perfectly adequate in designs for children or designs related to comic books or cartoons, designers believe it has no place in business or professional work usage. It’s also ill-suited in content body text, which means it’s best used as a headline/heading or short quote — in other words, a comic book” (Source).

In essence, the problem with comic sans goes back to the user (it’s the same reason we have “death by PowerPoint”). The problem with the typeface is not inherent to the typeface itself; the problem is that we use it incorrectly. Every typeface and individual font has a personality and mood. Research has even shown that typefaces evoke specific emotional responses in us. Eric Jaffe of Fast Company writes that “the latest evidence suggests that typefaces convey their own meanings and elicit their own emotions independent of the words they spell out” (Source).

So, not only does a font have a particular tone, but that tone is independent of the words written in that font–this means that text’s impact and meaning can be affected by the typeface used. Jaffe cites a 2004 study in which researchers noted that students described fonts like Times New Roman as professional but common; Helvetica was blah and least artistic; Comic Sans was childish (Source). An even more surprising study included in Jaffe’s article emphasized that while most fonts illicit one emotional response, “Comic Sans produced spikes across the emotional spectrum–from agitation to calm. It’s basically a rollercoaster of emotions wrapped in a few playful curves. People either love it or hate it” (Source). So, consistently incorrect use of an emotionally charged font has led to Comic Sans becoming the most hated, ridiculed, and ostracized font (it’s pretty much as bad as using Word Art).

Do we, as presentation designers ignore the public outcry to ban Comic Sans? Do we ignore the many criminally inappropriate uses of Comic Sans we see every day? How do we explain to novice designers, students, and those who use Comic Sans when a more appropriate font exists that it is up to them to turn the Comic Sans tide, to ensure it is used only when appropriate–in cartoons? Designers out there have their own solutions. Comic Sans Criminal asks users to take a pledge to think twice before choosing a font, and to consider its purpose. The folks who created Ban Comic Sans.com have turned their focus to positivity and using words for good, not evil. Dave and Holly Combs founded the Department of Public Words, an organization whose mission is use the power of positive words to better our community. By emphasizing the positive use of words and typography, we can emphasize that type must be used appropriately; it must be used for good.

Finally, designer Craig Rozynski has created a sleeker, more designer-friendly version of Comic Sans called Comic Neue. It is available to download free here. I tell students and teachers that bullets, Comic Sans, and frenetic animations “kill” their audiences and their presentation’s impact. Sometimes, this is perceived as me hating on the very foundations of the Keynote/PowerPoint presentation. And, they are right. But reducing this idea to “hating” is missing the point, which is that we must do better as presenters. The only way we can work to create better presentations is to let go of the bad habits of the past. Once we outgrow those habits, we may learn to use them the right way.

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Data Display of the Day: How to Sell Without Selling

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In my class, Professional Communication and Presentation, my students and I devote a significant portion of time to persuasion and selling. From my perspective, every presentation is persuasive. Even when the on paper purpose is to inform–quarterly report, update, process, lesson–there is an underlying current of persuasion that cannot be ignored. Even if a presenter is informing an audience on how to complete a process or how to engage in a process, he or she is really persuading the audience that his or her approach to completing that process is viable, worthy, or preferable to another method. In addition, every presenter must persuade the audience that he or she is credible and worth listening to. So, it naturally follows that learning more about persuading and about one of its most prevalent types, selling, can help each presenter grow his or her skills. Selling today (just like persuading) involves more finesse, innovation, and a knack for visualization than in the past. Most consumers today see right through infomercials and are much more drawn to subtler forms of persuasion–advertisers know this and continue to adapt. Presenters too must adapt to our new world of communication and content interaction. Today’s infographic, brought to you by Daily Infographic, discusses the subject of passive persuasion, or selling without selling. There are a few key ideas in this infographic we can apply to persuasive presenting:

1. People buy into ideas that appeal to their needs

According to today’s infographic, people buy products for a variety of reasons. Each of these coordinates with one of Maslow’s needs (physiological-basic needs, safety-replacement or value, belonging-urgency/scarcity, esteem-name recognition, self-actualization-a good cause), which is a good starting point for tailoring a message to a particular audience. What is interesting about the reasons people buy products is how readily we are driven by higher-level needs like name recognition. By purchasing an Apple product for instance, a consumer becomes part of one of Seth Godin’s “tribes,” a group of others whose values align around a brand. Harnessing Maslow’s needs when crafting a persuasive message taps into the very reasons audiences make the choices they do–WIIFM or “What’s In It For Me”.

2. People buy into well-designed products

A well-designed product is appealing–from color and form to function, usability, and novelty, user-focused design can truly make the difference between a product that thrives and one that fails. The same goes for slide decks. If 85% of consumers say that color is the main reason why they choose a product, and 93% of consumers are concerned with visual appearance, then it’s clear that design is king. David McCandless, of Information is Beautiful, provides a bit of insight into why visualizations are so useful in disseminating information. Our vision is our primary sense, and we are bombarded by an incredible amount of information each day, most of it visual (Source). By harnessing the power of design, we can speak to audiences in two languages–the language of the eye (visuals) and the language of the mind (text, numbers).

3. People buy into products that use surprise and unexpectedness

The final lesson we can draw from today’s infographic is that surprise and unexpectedness draws audience’s in and sets the conditions for persuasion. Chip and Dan Heath codified the formula for ideas that stick in Made to Stick. One of their primary modes of crafting sticky ideas is unexpectedness. When the brain encounters something incongruous, something that does not adhere to the schemas or cognitive patterns already in place, it cannot help but want to find a solution. This is why mysteries and thrillers are so popular–they break a schema and then through careful construction, create a new way of thinking.


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Slideshare of the Day: 29 Design Resources That Work Miracles

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Today marks the end of my two month break from classroom teaching. I’ve been busy writing up lesson plans for the Professional Communication and Presentation course reboot, revising assignment for the coming month, and tweaking my core slidedecks. As I am always working on minor or major adjustments to my deliverables, I am always looking for new sources of design inspiration and know how. A Tweak Your Slides reader, Richard Garber, who writes Joyful Public Speaking, shared the Assertion-Evidence format created by Michael Alley with me yesterday, and today, while browsing the latest Slideshare offerings on design and presenting, I ran across today’s Slideshare, “29 Design Resources That Work Miracles” by SEO.com:

The deck begins with a brief rationale–visual content today is one of the most powerful marketing tools for individuals and companies alike. But, like any good tool, it must be used in the right way, and this means placing the focus on good design and using good design resources. I was surprised at how many of the resources listed were new to me. Several are sources I wish I’d had in creating particularly difficult decks in the past and several others are sources I cannot wait to try this coming month. Here are a few of my favorites:

For Design Inspiration:

Creattica: though I already use Pinterest to curate designs I am inspired by, the added value of Creattica is that the site’s offerings are voted on and only displays examples of a designer’s greatest work–it’s a great way to filter inspiration down to great design for someone who is not a formally-trained designer.

For Image Editing:

Pixlr: I am lucky enough to have the entire Adobe Illustrator suite on my employer-provided laptop, but on my personal mac, I am limited to photo editing tools inside of Keynote and PowerPoint. Thankfully, user-friendly photo editing services like Pixlr are here to help. Available as a full online editor, express editor, and mobile app Pixlr is an easy to use tool for the novice designer

For Patterns:

Subtle Patterns: this is my absolute favorite new source. Again, as I am now teaching myself to use the Adobe Creative suite with the help of Lynda.com, my skills in creating depth through texture and patterns are limited to what I can find on image sites like compfight.com, ColourLovers, or what I can create myself using slide design software. As soon as I opened Subtle Patterns, I fell in love. The site contains hundreds of patterns available for download as .pngs and also features a Photoshop plugin similar to Kuler‘s that allows you to access the patterns without visiting the site.

Check out these and the other 26 awesome resources by scrolling through today’s Slideshare of the Day!

 

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Design Smarter: Find the best blend for text and image

The picture superiority effect occurs when you combine visuals and text together to increase audience retention of your message. The picture superiority effect is what allows you to create one of Nancy Duarte’s STAR Moments, evocative visuals. Not every visual needs to utilize text; Lisa Kristine in her amazing TED talk uses no text on her images; using text over her haunting and beautiful images of human slaves would have diminished their impact. However, text, especially in stand-alone presentations can help enhance a slide, communicate a more impacting message, and add to that cohesive look we want from original slide decks.

There are a few ways to blend text and image together on a slide. What you do depends on what you want to accomplish, the nature of your image and the amount of text on your slide. Your choice depends on what your main focus is in displaying the word with the image. Are they equally important? Is one more important than another? Here are a few variations to get you started.Below, I’ll cover a few of the more common combinations I see from designers and students. There are several ways to combine a bit of text with an image. Here are a few variations to get you started.

One idea, one image with empty space

One way to combine an image with an idea is to look for an image that has empty space. Often, images that employ the rule of thirds  include enough space for text. You know there’s enough space when there is little to no overlap between image and text. In this example, the original image by Flickr user Photoco. was licensed for commercial use with adaptations or remixes allowed. I was able to fill the slide with the image (which was large enough to display without pixelation) and use the empty space to the left of the figure to add my idea.

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One idea, one image without empty space

In other situations, you might have a fairly busy image you’d like to use on your slide; there is no one specific detail in the image that is more important than another that must be visible as in the example above. So, you can use a few strategies to blend image and text. The first is to adjust the brightness and exposure of the original image and place one large word over the picture (fig. a); note that this works well with a typeface like Intro, but might not work well with a typeface that has a thinner weight. In the first two examples (fig. a, fig. b), I adjusted the brightness and exposure of the image. In the next, I added a shadow to differentiate the text from the background (fig. c). In the final example, I adjusted the opacity of the text (this sometimes improves readability) (fig. d). Notice that the color changes depending on the option.

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After tweaking colors, shadows, and image settings, I chose this variation:

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Now, let’s assume you want to use a font with a thinner weight, like District Pro. Notice that without a bit of help, the text here is difficult to read. This is where a supporting shape comes in. Placing a shape behind the text (as long as it doesn’t make an important element on the image impossible to see) can be an option when blending text and image. In the example below, I’ve used several shapes to emphasize the text.

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One quote, one image with empty space

So, what if you want to place a quote or a lengthier idea (keep words to a minimum on a slide; 5-8 words is enough) on a slide with an image? Your first and best bet is to seek out an image with empty space, like the one above. Using an image with empty space and a readable typeface will help you maximize the impact of the quote by providing simple, clean visual support.

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One quote, one image without empty space a quote

At times, it’s possible to place a quote on a slide that has is busier–again, as long as the quote does not interfere with important parts of the image. However, this is the option I would advise the least. Placing a quote on a slide with a busy image will increase your chances of creating noise and it could minimize signal. In the case below, the quote on the slide combined with the image creates noise.

 

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The solution here is to rearrange the image to fit the frame (fig. e), find an image that allows the blend to happen naturally (fig. f), or allow the quote to stand alone.

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These are only a few of the many ways to blend text and image together.Whatever your choice, it’s important to consider these three best practices when pairing text and image:

1. The picture superiority effect is maximized when text and image are blended.

2. Create the most seamless blend possible.

3. Keep signal high and noise low.

What are your go to strategies for maximizing the picture superiority effect?

 

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Course Reboot: Visual introduction to the Professional Persona Project

The Professional Communication team has entered the design phase of the course reboot. We’ve developed our structure, written instruction sheets, and designed a course calendar. Currently, we are working on designing our instruction sheets, planning lessons, and creating visuals. I tasked my superstar lab specialist/teaching assistant, Justin Hardy, with designing the instruction sheets for the reboot. I gave him a very loose mock up of a layout, color scheme, and headings. Below is a draft of the instruction sheet Justin created. I love his overall approach, use of supporting shapes, cohesive color scheme, and attention to readability. Something I’d like to work on is streamlining the information and applying some of those ideas I’ve been learning about in Duarte Design’s Slidedocs. Trying to find the balance between a readable, visual document that is also brief enough that students are encouraged to read the content is our challenge. Keeping text large when the instruction sheets are being written by the most verbose woman on the planet (me) is a challenge Justin is taking on head first. One solution we are implementing is creating “splash pages” for our instructions that provide an at a glance view of the activity. The way our learning platform works, student see a basic instruction/description page before they download the actual instructions for an activity. I am confident he will find that balance between readability, succinctness, and visual attractiveness.

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Click on the image to access the full instruction sheet

What are your ideas for shortening a document while maintaining readability? 

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Design Smarter: Three Views on Storyboarding

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Yesterday, I talked about creating a design decisions slide to serve as a guide for designing a presentation. Today, I’d like to share with you another strategy for designing and organizing a presentation. In Ideate, we learn that the first step of design is to storyboard ideas. But, what does it mean to storyboard a presentation? Storyboarding is a strategy we use in Professional Communication and Presentation as an alternative to an linear outline. While outlining works well for presentations that are content-only, it is difficult to think like a designer and visualize design using a word processor or text-based organizational tool like a formal outline. Storyboarding, a term borrowed from film, television, and animation, essentially means creating a structure that allows one to not only determine the order and organization of content but also begin visualizing the design that goes along with that content. How does one create and execute a storyboard? Here are three professional presenters on the subject:

Scott Schwertly, Ethos3

Schwertly and his firm Ethos3 are leading the presentation revolution (be sure to scroll to the end of their blog to download a copy of the Presentation Manifesto) by following their core values–my favorite of which is “Embrace and Drive Change.” In their latest addition to their comprehensive and beautifully designed blog, “Ethos3 Secrets: Crafting a Storyboard,” Schwertly shares his team’s process for creating and using a storyboard. The starting point is the big picture, the big takeaway, or the big idea. Having this in place before even beginning a storyboard can help a project stay on track. Then, using presentation software, paper, or a word processing program, create the template for your storyboard. In class, we use the layout below for storyboarding along with sticky notes.

This student drew in ideas for slides ,and in the lines provided, explained what he would cover on each slide.

This student drew in ideas for slides ,and in the lines provided, explained what he would cover on each slide.

Once you begin filling in your storyboard, remember a few important things: 1. Imagine your visual support as you craft your content and 2. Revision is part of the process and is key to generating a strong structure.

Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen

I was first introduced to the concept of storyboarding via the Zen master, Garr Reynolds. I had always known about presenter’s notes and the ability to use them as a way to combine content and visuals, but as I was still creating “slideuments,” my use of these notes was minimal. Reading the article “Lessons from the art of storyboarding” helped me move into the realm of cinematic presentations. Reynolds’ article is less a how to and more an inspirational tool illustrating what we can learn about visualization from the folks who’ve done it best since 1923, The Walt Disney Company. According to Reynolds, storyboarding helps presenters visualize the story behind their presentation. To be a good storyboarder, one must be not only a good communicator who can create a clear, engaging, and cohesive story, but also be a great storyteller, using visuals to communicate “the meaning and the feelings behind the idea” (Source). Reynolds suggests going analog for this process–a whiteboard with sticky notes and markers, a strategy used by other leading professionals in the field (and which works very well for team projects).

Nancy Duarte, Duarte Design

Duarte Design uses whiteboards and sticky notes, a practice Nancy Duarte, Fairy Godmother of Presentations, discusses in her books Slide:ology, Resonate, and the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. In the final article I’ll share with you, Duarte explains her unique approach to storyboarding in developing a presentation on visual thinking. For this particular presentation, the traditional storyboard and stickynote format left the presentation disconnected and disjointed. So, Duarte used receipt tape (just as Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road on one continuous roll of paper as opposed to separate sheets) to storyboard the presentation. The result was a cohesive and connected presentation. Check out the result on Duarte’s blog. The lesson here is be creative! The strength of your drawings doesn’t matter, neither does any one way of storyboarding. The point is to use the best tool for you in a specific presentation development situation.

To learn more about storyboarding, check out the following articles from Tweak Your Slides:

Storyboarding a PechaKucha

Storyboarding: Four Patterns of Organization

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Want to create an original design? Create a “design decisions” slide.

Slide-full presentations have become a ubiquitous standard in most major fields–scientists, educators, CEOs, and military personnel are expected to have a PowerPoint to accompany their verbal presentations. For most people, that means opening slide software, choosing a template, and in 30 minutes, creating what I call the bullet-riddled death machine. After countless meetings, workshops, and student presentations full of generic, forgettable, confusing, or pointless slides, I’ve begun tuning out most presentations with slides. The presentations with slides that I do pay attention to are those that are so subtly, cleanly, and minimally designed that they simply serve as visual support and enhancement for a presenter’s beautifully structured content and engaging delivery.

Note what I am saying here–your content and delivery matter more than your visual design, but if you do use visuals, your first concern must be design. As Nancy Duarte says, having great slides with poor content is like putting lipstick on a pig–it’s still a pig (Source)! A colleague walked by my desk while I was working on Ideate and loved the design, but said “but, how long did that take you?” It definitely took longer than choosing the craft template and transferring hundreds of pages worth of content onto slides, but like anything else, the time one puts into something reflects how others will perceive the finished product.

So, what do we do? We have to have slides (another colleague is in danger of losing his job because he doesn’t use PowerPoint, Prezi, or other slide software in the classroom), but more importantly, we have to begin creating slides that serve as visual support, are worth displaying, and that are uniquely aligned with our topics. The answer is of course design, but design doesn’t necessarily have to take hundreds of hours of work. Great design is simple, and simplicity starts by creating your “design box” for a project via a design decisions slide. This slide, which one would hide before presenting, serves as a guide for the rest of the deck. Using a design decisions slide restricts the presenter to the elements needed to create a unified look while also being unrestricted enough to allow for variations.

How to Create a Design Decisions Slide

Before tackling a new project, begin with design. First, choose a black or white slideshow to start with a blank canvas. This will help you keep the focus on design.

Core Colors

The first step is to choose two to three core colors (any more than this can create discord or disconnect for beginning designers). With these two to three colors, a presenter can create a diverse yet connected palette. One can adapt the brightness, lightness, and saturation of these three colors to vary the color palette. Align the color palette with a discipline, mood, or industry. A great place to go for complimentary and mood-based palettes is Design-Seeds.com. Creating a new color palette is easy in both Keynote and PowerPoint due to the “color grabber” tool (pictured below).

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Typeface

Next, choose your typeface. One or two fonts working together can help you further emphasize unified design. It’s important though, that if you choose two fonts, you work to use them together consistently. If choosing one font (which is in my opinion even better), choose a font with multiple weights. Choosing a font like Josefinsans is an excellent beginner design strategy. Fonts like these come with multiple versions (light, italic, bold, semi-bold, etc.) or weights that can be used in different ways (to show emphasis, for instance). Using one font with multiple weights further emphasizes unified design.

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Supporting Shape/Imagery

Presentation design can take on many forms. Sometimes an image alone can communicate volumes; sometimes an image or well-aligned series of images paired with text can work better. According to the Picture Superiority Effect, words paired with images help us retain information far longer than text or image alone. Sometimes, though, an image is great, but helping that text gel with the image (especially when one is trying to use a full-bleed image) can be difficult. Using a shape on a visual can help that text more visible as well as reinforcing your design’s overall unity. You can also begin making decisions about the type of imagery you will use. Will you use pictures, icons, or a combination of these?

Here is my design decisions slide for Ideate:

Design elements; Network designed by Brennan Novak from The Noun Project, Brain designed by Linda Yuki Nakanishi from The Noun Project, Earth by  NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Design elements; Network designed by Brennan Novak from The Noun Project, Brain designed by Linda Yuki Nakanishi from The Noun Project, Earth by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

These are the rules for creating a design slide for a presentation. What about for a slidedoc, the new brand of design introduced by Nancy Duarte’s firm a few weeks ago? Well, according to Duarte, a slidedoc needs the same kind of visual support that a presentation does–consistently treated imagery, colors, and a typeface set. However, a slidedoc, because it is meant to be read can be more diverse. Instead of one typeface, a slidedoc can feature multiple typefaces for heads, content, and highlighted text; a slidedoc can also include five colors with two additional neutral colors (grey, black). Finally, a slidedoc needs a system of images, icons, and shapes.

Here is my design decisions slide for my first slidedoc, “An Introduction to the New PCP.” I chose five colors plus two neutrals (as I tell my students, I’ve done this enough to move beyond basic visual design and they can too with time!), two fonts, Josefinsans and Josefinslab, and as this is a slidedoc, I’ll be using a combination of shapes, icons, and imagery to create emphasis.

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Current Reads to Grow My BoW

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The month of March continues to be one of the busiest for most in my circle (including my amazing sister who just came back from a trip to London and was recently accepted to my alma mater, the University of Florida). This week’s posts have been short and sweet, but I am happy to say next week will be packed with articles on course development (designing the instruction sheets for the PCP reboot), the first installment in the Ideate content development series, and a post on the design process for my first slidedoc. I think part of what has made 2014 so fruitful has been the drive and commitment by my colleagues, family, and friends to grow their body of work. That kind of commitment is contagious! I am working to expand my BoW by taking on three new books (in addition to inhaling the second book in the Sword of Truth series). This month, I am reading Words that Work by Dr. Frank Luntz, Creative Workshop by David Sherwin, and Cook This, Not That! by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding. Four very different books, four ways to tap into areas of potential growth in this the year of the Body of Work.

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind

I’ve always been a big fan of science fiction (I’ve devoured most sci-fi shows and am on my second viewing of the Dr. Who reboot), but good fantasy from my perspective was hard to come by outside of LOTR. I picked up the first installment of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series after realizing it was the basis for a fantasy series I’d sampled a few years before, Legend of the Seeker, a mostly forgettable but entertaining show featuring several folks from the film adaptations of LOTR. I have enjoyed immersing myself into Goodkind’s world. I cannot help but see Joseph Campbell’s Hero Cycle in Richard Cypher’s journey from simple forest guide to Seeker, wizard, and lord. Reading and becoming invested in this story is teaching me more about crafting stories and integrating them into presentations, as well as bringing to life Duarte’s idea that conflict is a constant in a great story.

Words that Work by Frank Luntz

The name Dr. Frank Luntz is familiar to me from reading Alex’s blog, in particular her review of Win, so when I ran across Words that Work while perusing the bargain books at Barnes and Noble (yes, I love a bargain!), I of course bought it immediately. I am looking forward to learning more about the impact words have on decision making. I teach my students that language and the ability to use it well can have immediate and lasting impact. Learning the right words to create resonance can help me not only teach others but also achieve my own professional goals. I am particularly intrigued by the use of real case studies of working words in action.

Creative Workshop by David Sherwin

Another area I’d like to grow is my design skills. While I have found a way to design pretty much anything and everything I need in Keynote (so intimidated by Photoshop, even after completing a Lynda course on the subject), I have reached the point where I know I need to learn to use the tools of the design trade, and I’d like to learn by designing new types of deliverables. Creative Workshop is an application-based, skill building book. It contains 80 exercises broken up into seven categories. The purpose of the book is to help designers push and challenge their creative skills, to tackle the spectrum of design (from branding to video) in order to grow creativity through practice. I’ve owned the book for a few years, but felt intimidated by the projects. After completing Ideate, for which I created several icons and visualizations, I realized that innovation and growth as a designer will only come from challenge, so it’s time to tackle Sherwin’s challenges!

Cook This, Not That! Easy and Awesome 350-Calorie Meals by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding

As I mentioned previously, I have been perfecting a few of my own homemade recipes, in particular my mojo marinade. If you know me well enough, you know I love to cook. In my home, we create a menu for each week’s dinners. Trying out new recipes and cooking for and with my significant other is the highlight of my day. I don’t usually buy cookbooks anymore because, let’s face it, I can Pinterest pretty much anything, but I loved the first book from this duo, Eat This, Not That!, so I picked this book up on my B & N bargain book trip. As soon as I opened the book, I was hooked. Not only were the recipes easy and yummy, the book is so well-designed! My favorite sections are the preambles to each category. For instance, the salad section contains a “salad matrix,” a visual breakdown of salad bases, vegetables, toppings, and dressings one can create hundreds of combinations with. Each section is color coded, includes call outs, variations, and visual representations. I can’t wait to plan this week’s menu using Cook This, Not That!

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New Commercial Image Source, Oh Joy!

Each week in Professional Communication and Presentation, I hold a live class session for my online student using GoTo Training. I look forward to these trainings; it’s one of my only chances to collaborate and communicate synchronously with the 50-75 students I teach each month. Another wonderful result of these weekly trainings is how much I learn from my students, particularly in terms of examples and resources. Last night, a student shared an alternative to my favorite Flickr search engine, Compfight.com. Photo Pin is similar to Compfight in that it uses Flickr’s API and creative commons selections to search for commercial content. The algorithms used by these sites are different: Compfight searches based on license, image tags, and originals; Photo Pin searches based on license, relevance to the search terms, interestingness (how is this determined?), and currentness. Both sites yield different results based on the same search term, which is refreshing as what might not work in one site may work in another. Photo Pin, like Compfight, offers a preview and popup downloading option. Compfight’s popup allows one to check the license directly, whereas Photo Pin redirects the user to the image’s flickr location (not necessarily a bad thing as often, one can find more images from a user this way).

One of the upsides to Compfight is that it lists the number of images available. Knowing this helps me determine whether or not my current search term is going to yield potentially fruitful results.

One of the upsides to Compfight is that it lists the number of images available. Knowing this helps me determine whether or not my current search term is going to yield potentially fruitful results.

 

Photo Pin's adjectival search (recent, relevance, interestingness) yields completely different results for the same search term, expanding the number of options significantly.

Photo Pin’s adjectival search (recent, relevance, interestingness) yields completely different results for the same search term, expanding the number of options significantly.

 

I will be using Photo Pin for my next project to test out it’s usefulness, but on first glance, it’s an excellent addition to the blogger/designer repertoire.

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40 Days of Dating: Design and Life Intersect

I ran across the project, 40 Days of Dating after perusing the site of one of my followers. I ran across his interview with one of the creators and participants of this project, Jessica Walsh. Walsh is a talented designer whose work has earned her critical acclaim and big client (she redesigned the Adobe MAX logo with partner Stefan Sagmeister), but she’s also a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic who jumped into relationships head first, often to her own detriment. Her partner in crime for the project was Timothy Goodman, fellow designer and polar opposite in dating terms. Together, they engaged in a social and aesthetic experiment: what happens when two designers and relationship opposites date for 40 days? The couple was tasked with documenting each date on their blog. From day one, the blend of aesthetics/design and storytelling grabbed me. I read through all 40 days in an hour. I love the rawness of the story, the complete familiarity I felt as reading each post and studying each piece of artwork designed to accompany the post. Some have criticized the duo, claiming the experiment was a gimmick to land a movie deal (which just happened), but for me, the blend of visual and verbal storytelling was compelling and engaging. It’s something I’d like to implement in my own presentations for a few reasons:

1. Handmade design that aligns with and tells part of a story is immersive

Part of what drew me into the project was the visuals. Each image, photograph, video, or illustration perfectly aligned with the stories Jessica and Timothy told.

2. Storytelling transcends all media and forums

It doesn’t matter if you are an award-winning designer or a cat lady from Orlando,Fl, the experience of finding love for another and yourself is universal, and it’s universally interesting!

3. Perspective is everything!

What fascinated me most was how differently Jessica and Timothy viewed their daily experiences. It has made me even more mindful of just how much of our daily interactions are guided by our internal perspective engines.

Check out this intro video below and the rest of the blog 40 Days of Dating by following the link!

What do you think of the project? Gimmick? Design genius?

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