Use clear, elegant, and easy-to-understand graphs, tables, and slide sets that engage and inform your audience

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Do your visual displays communicate your message effectively?

The creation of well-designed visual displays of information requires more than knowing how to how to use software programs that generate graphs, tables, or slides.

Using the default settings of software programs to create graphs, tables, and slides often results in visuals that cause the reader to struggle to find the message.

As a result, your audience must expend significant time and mental energy trying to perform time consuming or difficult visual tasks in order to understand the information presented. If the visual tasks are too time consuming or too hard, the end user will simply move on and never discover the information. Or, they may come away with an imperfect understanding of the information.

Applying visual science to design makes a big difference in creating effective and efficient visual displays.

Graphs are the visual representation of numbers and their relationships.

Information design expert Stephen Kosslyn believes, “A graph is successful if the pattern, trend, or comparison it presents can be immediately apprehended.” *

Visual information is initially processed and organized in a universal way, independent of our unique perspectives and individual efforts. This initial processing occurs without conscious thought and determines how we decode graphs, see patterns, and interpret colors.

Information we acquire at this initial level influences how we subsequently consciously attend to the visual and leads us to interpret it in a certain way.

Thus, the most effective visual displays are created using principles based on scientific evidence of visual science. The result is a product with easy-to-perform visual tasks and a visual message that’s congruent with the intended message.

Users don’t move on out of frustration. They have more time and mental energy to invest in acquiring a deeper understanding of the information, integrating it into their fund of knowledge, and thinking about how they can apply this new information.

Important data findings deserve effective data visualization.

I’m Mary Beth Hasselquist, an independent information designer and a physician. As an information designer, I specialize in creating presentation-ready graphs that transform sets of numbers into honest, meaningful patterns easily grasped by the reader.

When I sit down to design visual displays, I use design principles based on visual science combined with best practices of graphical methods to create visuals that eliminate visual distractions and help the reader process the information.

If you’d like effective and clear visuals for your research or academic data, please send an email and we can discuss your project. I look forward to talking with you.

Mary Beth Hasselquist, MD
Physician and Independent Information Designer

 

* Stephen M. Kosslyn (1994) Elements of Graph Design. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, page 2.