visual communication strategy

January 28, 2022

Beginners guide to visual communication - Experts Zone #12


Olga Krzak

UI/UX Designer
Beginners guide to visual communication - Experts Zone #12
product design(8)
ux/ui design(12)

Watch the episode by UI/UX Designer Olga Krzak about the power of visual communication.

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Hello. Welcome to the Expert Zone. In today's video, I'm going to violate the pronunciation of the English language, so if you don't want to develop PTSD, you will never recover from it's. Time for you to leave. Seriously. Okay, just kidding. Let's start again.

Let's talk a little bit about pictures. A picture is in fact the most promoted way of preserving information and had been used as such as long as 64k years ago in form of cave paintings. It has then developed into the first Proton writing picture systems. And even though with the emergence of writing, we stopped using pictures as the primary mean of communication, it didn't exactly disappear. Do not forget that for a long time, writing was a skill not everyone possessed. Before our rulers considered us as worthy of getting at least an elementary education, it was playing a key role in communication.

A good example of that might be frescos decorating the walls of the European churches, which were actually a form of biblia pauperum, which was a form of Bible for the poor and uneducated. But even though in the modern time the literacy rate in the world is relatively low, we still use visual language to communicate just for different reasons. So what actually is visual communication today?

Essentially, visual communication is the art of creating a concise and clear message using only visual components such as color, shape, typography, white, space, and composition. But what exactly a visual communicator can be?

The answer is it can be anything. For example, we use visual communicators in form of role signs. Why do we do that? We do that because a picture can convey a message a lot quicker than it could be possible using only text. This is also a way of avoiding language barriers when it comes to written messages. As a result, we have an effective and consistent system everyone in Europe understands. Visual communication is being used everywhere on a daily basis. We use, for example, to support our presentations using maps, diagrams, graphs, and so on to show laugh. We send the visual presentation of heart-heart-shaped emojis.

When we want to communicate the sex of our unborn child. We use either pink or blue balloons.

In some countries, you can even insert somebody using only color. For example, in China, you should never wrap a gift in white paper because white is associated with death and funeral ceremonies. To put it short, we can say that visual communication is the language used to convey ideas in a fast, concise and clear way, using only visual components. Understanding language can be mastered, which is what designers do. Visual communication and data visualizations plays a key role in various design fields, such as graphic design or brand design, or even user interface design.

In these fields, it's crucial to convey messages, ideas, and even emotions and intentions in a clear and concise way that everyone understands. As a graphic designer, you can be asked to, for example, design a campaign that triggers specific associations with the product. Let's say a shampoo targeted at babies. In order to do that, you might have to create visual storytelling that says: “Hi, I'm safe and delicate shampoo for babies. And to do that, you must make the right choices regarding colored palette, typography, composition, and even illustration to create the right user centered design.

After all, you wouldn't use, for example, red gothic-styled letters on a black background to achieve that, would you? Of course not. The thing worth noting, though, is that visual communication is exactly what lets you recognize baby products on shelves without even thinking about it. The same goes for, I don't know, cosmetics for men and women because you only look at it and you know who it is for. In brand design, visual communication is used in the same way, although maybe it's a bit more complex and sophisticated because we're talking about the overall feel of the brand, its vibes, and targeting the right audiences.

Colors in visual communication strategy

Visual communication can be also used in user interface design as a means to create a visual hierarchy in the information architecture. So let's talk about colors and what visual communication helps with. I'm sure you have heard things like red is the color of love. This starts true in visual communication. The choice, of course, in design is very accidental, and the decisions behind it are usually based on what your goal is.

If you want to create something happy, date, and decade, you should go for light palettes and avoid intense contrasts. If you want to create a visual communication program with something bold and energetic, contrast and intense colors are what we need to do it. And if you want to create something dark and depressing, you should probably go for lower saturation and darker colors. We also have colors widely associated with some abstract ideas, such as red for love or blue for trust and professionalism. But watch out: colors do not work the same everywhere in the world, and their meaning might actually depend on the cultural context and visual culture. As I already mentioned before, a lot of successful Western products actually fail in the Asian market because of the tragic emotional response. The cause might be the lack of understanding of the local culture. Shapes also play a huge role in visual communication. In fact, it's common for aspiring graphic designers to create inconsistent messages due to the wrong choices regarding colors and shapes.

For example, when you create something for the kids' shampoo mentioned before, you should probably avoid shapes with sharp corners, because sharp visual elements do not appear as safe and soft, as the round ones. Shape applies also to typography round self-enjoyment with the imperfect fonts might be suitable for products made for kids, but if you want to appear professional, you should probably avoid using comic sans to write your name in your email footer. Let's go a little bit deeper and discuss composition and whitespace.

Composition and visual forms

White space is basically the empty space between graphical elements, and you use that to create a precise message. For example, if you want two graphical elements to appear unlimited or distant or different, you usually increase the white space between them because otherwise, those shapes will start to influence one another. Another example of using composition might be when you place something small next to something very big, a big element obviously draws all the attention and you might actually miss the small things next to it. And that's exactly what composition is. It's all about how various elements influence each other. Let's have a quick look at one of the most famous paintings in art history, Michelangelo's, the Creation of Adam.

So in this painting, the area that really draws your attention is this empty space between the fingers of Adam and God which in terms of composition creates tension, those are data visualization techniques that make this particular painting stand out. All of these things: composition, typography, color, shape, visual form can be used to create very complex and very sophisticated messages for visualizing data but it's also relatively easy to mess things up. That's why when it comes to branding, it's good to trust professionals to take care of your visual communication strategy and visual communication design. So I hope you understand now what exactly visual communications are. And in the next video, we can talk a little bit. Thank you very much, bye.

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Olga Krzak

UI/UX Designer

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