We live in a business culture where a document’s visual elements are as important as the text itself for conveying a writer’s (or presenter’s) message, whether the message is an email, a report, a brochure, a PowerPoint presentation, or a Web page.
As a business writing instructor, I find myself increasingly devoting time in my courses to document design and visual communication. What started several years ago as a brief review of some basic design and layout principles has evolved to a four-week unit on document design and visual communication incorporating discussion of both print and Web documents. Specifically, we examine information mapping/text placement, fonts, color theory, visual elements (e.g., photos, charts, illustrations), navigation, and usability. Students also learn to create a basic Web page and to use a photo editor.
Student projects vary each semester, depending on our client. This semester’s client is putting its printed catalog and planner online and needs advice on how to do so.
As I prep this spring’s unit, I thought I’d share a few of my best (or at least most interesting) sources. Some I use to create content for lectures, while I use others to add interest to the class discussion. If you have sources to share, please do!
Information Mapping/Text Placement
- Purdue OWL Visual Rhetoric Overview (Purdue University Online Writing Lab)
- Letting Go of the Words (Ginny Redish)
- Lesikar’s Business Communication: Communicating in a Digital World (13e) (Kathy Rentz, Paula Lentz)
- M: Business Communication (3e) (Kathy Rentz, Paula Lentz)
- 20 Free eBooks for Web Designers (Doublemesh)
- Editing Tips for Business Web Content (Smashing Magazine)
- Nielsen Norman Group (Jakob Nielsen, Don Norman, Bruce Tognazzini)
- Debunking the Myths of Web Typography (Web Designer Depot, Benjie Moss)
- The Incredible Histories of Your Favorite Fonts (Huffington Post)
- The Student’s Guide to Using Fonts in Education (Edudemic)
- Font Designer Could Sue over “Go Home” vans (BBC)
- Design 101 for Educators: 5 Simple Typography Tips (Edutopia)
- The Science behind Fonts (and How They Make You Feel) (The Next Web, Mikael Cho)
- The Dos and Don’ts of Typography (Web Designer Depot, Sam Jones)
- Serif vs. Sans Serif Infographic (Enfuzed)
- What to Know about Using Colors in the Classroom (Edudemic)
- Basic Color Theory (Color Matters)
- Color Theory (New York University)
- Color Symbolism and Culture (Incredible @rt Department)
- Why Is Facebook Blue? The Science behind Colors in Marketing (Fast Company, Leo Widrich)
- 250 Free Universal Icons Pack (Crazy Leaf)
- Best Places to Find Free Images Online (Dustin W. Stout)
- Visualising Data Best of the Visualization Web (January 2014) (Visualising Data)
- 10 Charts from 2013 That Changed the Way We Think (Harvard Business Review, Gretchen Gavett)
- 11 Hidden Messages in Company Logos (Mental Floss, Jason English)
- Creating Classroom Infographics Using these 2 Awesome Google Docs Templates (Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, Med Kharbach)
- Infographic Free Flat Icons (Webby Arts)
- A Must-Have Rubric for Infographic Use in the Classroom (Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, Med Kharbach)