FUNDAMENTALS
OF
DESIGN
For non-designers
(e.g. GIS people)
(i.e. you)
Hi!
This is a re-edited, annotated version of a
pres...
DESIGN
IS
COMMUNICATION
“Good design
is clear thinking
made visible”
Edward Tufte
I’m going to teach you a new language.
B...
telegeography.com
Christopher Ingraham
wapo.st/wonkblog
David Imus - imusgeographics.com
Humans are visual creatures, and ...
telegeography.com
Nate Wessel – cincymap.org
John Nelson – UX.Blog
But as non-designers, it can be hard for us
to articula...
Contrast
Colour
Hierarchy
Motion
Composition
Generalisation
Framing
Scale
Subtraction
Balance
Pattern
Modularity
Size
Shap...
Contrast
Colour
Hierarchy
Motion
Composition
Generalisation
Framing
Subtraction
Balance
Pattern
Modularity
Size
Shape
Spac...
Contrast
Colour
Hierarchy
Motion
Composition
Generalisation
Framing
Subtraction
Balance
Pattern
Modularity
Size
Shape
Spac...
Contrast
Colour
Hierarchy
Motion
Generalisation
Framing
Subtraction
Balance
PatternModularity
Size
Shape
Space
Texture
Tra...
????????
??????
????????
??????
???????????
??????????????
???????
?????
???????????
???????
???????
?????????
????
?????
...
HIERARCHY
Relative visual weight
The overarching principle of cartographic
design (and actually of most fields of design),...
If the data you’re displaying on your map is
unweighted (in a visual sense), it can be almost
impossible to decipher what ...
…or through the use
of patterns…
…or by adjusting the visual
contrast of the elements.
But to take this to the next level,...
Sub-Dominant
DOMINANT
Subordinate
When considering the visual hierarchy of your
map elements, you should try to boil them ...
So on this example…
…the dominant element
could be these points…
…the sub-dominant
theme might be transport
(roads and rai...
…and the rest of the data on the
map can be subordinate in the
visual hierarchy.
Once a visual hierarchy has been
defined,...
We could increase the boldness
of the roads and rail lines (but
only a little.)
And we could really push the rest
of the c...
COLOUR
Contrast without conflict
Next, colour.
The effective use of colour on a map is all about
making sure that the elem...
Different colours actually have different visual weights.
If people are shown an image like this one, and are asked
to mov...
Given enough iterations of this
experiment with enough
different colour combinations…
…it becomes possible to build up
a p...
That sounds easy enough in
principle, so what if we try to
apply that hierarchy of colour
weights to the visual hierarchy
...
The apparent weight of a colour
is also strongly affected by its
saturation and value.
Saturation (or chroma) referes to t...
So if we take the saturation and value part of the equation
into consideration, we can come up with a much nicer
colour sc...
A nice example of this is the Esri
Ocean Basemap.
It uses a very carefully chosen
selection of blues.
The way that these b...
So try to break away from the default
palette as much as possible, and really think
about your colour choices.
There are s...
GENERALISATION
Clarify reality
Maps are representations of reality, but reality is
infinitely detailed.
So generalisation ...
Raw SRTM Data Manual Shaded Relief
A good example of this is using shaded relief
techniques to illustrate the terrain of a...
These manual shaded relief maps by Tom
Patterson are a really nice example of
scale-appropriate design.
They use generalis...
naturalearthdata.com
Tom Patterson is also behind the Natural Earth Project, which is a set
of spatial data – borders, roa...
So how might we apply
generalisation to this
simple example?
There’s a lot of unnecessary detail
in the rail network, such...
And we can generalise the main data (the points)
on the map as well, perhaps by abstracting their
spatial locations and di...
…or even by highlighting concentrations of points
by creating an interpolated density surface.
Obviously there are tons of...
COMPOSITION
Drive your point home
If the previous design principles were about
taking a high-level view of your data, and
...
I realise this might be hard for GIS people to
relate to, since the arrangement and styling of
elements like legends, titl...
But by applying the design principles I’ve already
shown you to your map surrounds rather than
your map data, you’ll find ...
HIERARCHY
COLOUR
GENERALISATION
COMPOSITION
So these are the fundamentals of
visual design that are most relevant
to mapma...
David Imus - imusgeographics.com
For example, on this map, the saturated
yellow of the urban areas (with a higher
visual w...
telegeography.com
On this map, obviously the spatial
locations of the cables themselves have
been heavily abstracted.
And ...
telegeography.com
To emphasise the importance of
composition, here’s another cable map,
also by TeleGeography, and showing...
Christopher Ingraham
wapo.st/wonkblog
This one is just a nice example of how
less can be more in map design.
The solar rad...
Nate Wessel – cincymap.org
The data shown on this map is only that
which is relevant to cyclists.
The map as a whole has a...
NO TEMPLATES
TRAIN YOUR EYE
The other thing you should do, besides
training your eye for visual design as
much as possible...
COLLABORATE!
Finally, I think the most important thing
you can do to improve your design skills
is to work with other mapm...
THANKS!
And I’m looking forward to seeing some
of the beautiful maps you’ll go on to
create!
Get in touch if you have any ...
MAPS USED IN THIS PRESENTATION
The Essential Geography of the
United States of America
This map is the result of nearly 6,...
RESOURCES
Esri Map Book
BOOKS
Past volumes of the Esri Map Book are
available to browse online, highlighting
some of the b...
Why city flags may be the worst-
designed thing you've never noticed
VIDEOS
Roman Mars on flag designs; specifically, why
...
MORE ONLINE TOOLS
AND RESOURCES
These are both examples of online map styling
tools. These are a good way to get a quick f...
MORE BLOGS AND
ONLINE ARTICLES
UX.Blog (John Nelson)
Insightful posts on data visualisation, with a strong
cartographic be...
of 48

Fundamentals of Design for Non-Designers

This is a compressed, annotated version of a presentation I gave at Esri Australia's Ozri conference in September 2015. It's intended to be a high-level overview of a few visual design principles that are relevant to mapmaking. Being mindful of these principles while you're making and viewing maps will help you improve your visual communication skills. Check out the resources section at the end of the presentation (from slide 44) for a bunch of links to useful blog posts, websites and online tools.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Design      
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - Fundamentals of Design for Non-Designers

  • 1. FUNDAMENTALS OF DESIGN For non-designers (e.g. GIS people) (i.e. you) Hi! This is a re-edited, annotated version of a presentation I gave at Ozri 2015, in Melbourne. Get in touch if you have any questions or comments! Nathaniel.Jeffrey@gmail.com njeffrey@Urbis.com.au https://au.linkedin.com/in/nathanieljeffrey
  • 2. DESIGN IS COMMUNICATION “Good design is clear thinking made visible” Edward Tufte I’m going to teach you a new language. Because visual design, just like a spoken language, is just another way of communicating. The power of a great map is in its ability to clearly communicate information, and open up new insights into the data it presents. But the problem is that very few GIS professionals have any formal visual design training. For those of us who live and work in the world of data and analysis, design seems hard.
  • 3. telegeography.com Christopher Ingraham wapo.st/wonkblog David Imus - imusgeographics.com Humans are visual creatures, and we can intuitively recognise good design when we see it – and not just when it comes to maps.
  • 4. telegeography.com Nate Wessel – cincymap.org John Nelson – UX.Blog But as non-designers, it can be hard for us to articulate exactly why these things are well-designed. Visual design can seem almost like a foreign language. Actually, the fundamentals of design are a lot like the fundamentals of a spoken language…
  • 5. Contrast Colour Hierarchy Motion Composition Generalisation Framing Scale Subtraction Balance Pattern Modularity Size Shape Space Texture Transparency There’s an artistic vocabulary, and these elements make up the content of our communication… …and there’s a visual grammar, the principles of which make up the building blocks of visual composition; they give context to the content of our designs.
  • 6. Contrast Colour Hierarchy Motion Composition Generalisation Framing Subtraction Balance Pattern Modularity Size Shape Space Texture Transparency The relative importance of each of these elements and principles changes, depending on what exactly it is that you’re designing. If you’re making a flag or a logo, you’re primarily concerned with generalisation and colour.
  • 7. Contrast Colour Hierarchy Motion Composition Generalisation Framing Subtraction Balance Pattern Modularity Size Shape Space Texture Transparency If you’re an architect, you’re going to be very mindful of space in your designs.
  • 8. Contrast Colour Hierarchy Motion Generalisation Framing Subtraction Balance PatternModularity Size Shape Space Texture Transparency And if you’re designing a quilt, you will be paying the most attention to things like pattern, contrast and colour.
  • 9. ???????? ?????? ???????? ?????? ??????????? ?????????????? ??????? ????? ??????????? ??????? ??????? ????????? ???? ????? ????? ?????? ???????????? But what about maps? When we’re making maps, we’re usually dealing with complex spatial data, and we’re often trying to communicate very specific messages to the map reader. So, given that our work as mapmakers tends to be data- driven, what are the fundamental elements of cartographic design?
  • 10. HIERARCHY Relative visual weight The overarching principle of cartographic design (and actually of most fields of design), is that of hierarchy. Hierarchy is all about defining the relative visual weights of the elements on your map.
  • 11. If the data you’re displaying on your map is unweighted (in a visual sense), it can be almost impossible to decipher what the map is about. Of course, I think most of us have an innate understanding of the importance of visual weighting, and even our most basic maps tend to look a little better than this. We naturally tend to establish a visual hierarchy by manipulating the size of elements… …or their shape…
  • 12. …or through the use of patterns… …or by adjusting the visual contrast of the elements. But to take this to the next level, you need to ask yourself: what is the point of this map? What message am I trying to communicate to the viewer?
  • 13. Sub-Dominant DOMINANT Subordinate When considering the visual hierarchy of your map elements, you should try to boil them down into one dominant theme, one sub-dominant theme (if required), and have all of the other elements on the map being subordinate, from a design point of view.
  • 14. So on this example… …the dominant element could be these points… …the sub-dominant theme might be transport (roads and rail)…
  • 15. …and the rest of the data on the map can be subordinate in the visual hierarchy. Once a visual hierarchy has been defined, the next step is to make that hierarchy explicit with appropriate symbology. So we could take the points on this map and make them even bigger, and give them shadows to make them even more visually dominant.
  • 16. We could increase the boldness of the roads and rail lines (but only a little.) And we could really push the rest of the content on the map into the background. So when you’re considering hierarchy, the key thing is to really examine your data from the outset, and decide what the key message of your map is going to be. Then, group each element of the map into the dominant, sub-dominant and subordinate categories, and symbolise them accordingly.
  • 17. COLOUR Contrast without conflict Next, colour. The effective use of colour on a map is all about making sure that the elements on your map are coloured in a way that they’re distinct where necessary, while still ensuring that your map as a whole is visually harmonious.
  • 18. Different colours actually have different visual weights. If people are shown an image like this one, and are asked to move the fulcrum so that the two colours appear balanced… …they will (on average) tend to move it towards the red square, indicating that red is perceived as having a heavier visual weight than blue.
  • 19. Given enough iterations of this experiment with enough different colour combinations… …it becomes possible to build up a picture of the relative visual weights of different colours. HEAVY light
  • 20. That sounds easy enough in principle, so what if we try to apply that hierarchy of colour weights to the visual hierarchy we’ve already established? Turns out, it looks pretty gross. So there’s clearly more to colour than just the weight of the hue alone.
  • 21. The apparent weight of a colour is also strongly affected by its saturation and value. Saturation (or chroma) referes to the quantity of a given hue. A more saturated, purer colour has a heavier visual weight than a less saturated, grey colour. And value (or brightness) describes the extent to which a hue is tinted towards white, or shaded towards black. A colour with a darker, lower value has a heavier visual weight than a brighter, whiter version of that colour.
  • 22. So if we take the saturation and value part of the equation into consideration, we can come up with a much nicer colour scheme for our map. But this brings up the issue of colour schemes in general, and how we as mapmakers tend to select and use them. Even on this improved map, all of the colours come from the default palette. This palette does the best it can with just 120 colours. But there are millions of colours available to us; understanding how to use them can really enhance our cartography.
  • 23. A nice example of this is the Esri Ocean Basemap. It uses a very carefully chosen selection of blues. The way that these blues communicate depth and shadow is much more effective than would be the case if they had just used the blues in the default palette.
  • 24. So try to break away from the default palette as much as possible, and really think about your colour choices. There are some great online resources that can help you select colour schemes and palettes; go to the end of this presentation for some links! If we don’t limit ourselves to the default palette, a much subtler colour scheme is possible for our map.
  • 25. GENERALISATION Clarify reality Maps are representations of reality, but reality is infinitely detailed. So generalisation in cartographic design is all about creating clarity and insight by abstracting data. You need to simplify your data where necessary, and direct visual emphasis to the most important elements of your map.
  • 26. Raw SRTM Data Manual Shaded Relief A good example of this is using shaded relief techniques to illustrate the terrain of a region. You could take raw elevation data and apply a simple hillshade to it, but at smaller scales this doesn’t really describe the true nature of the landscape. Instead, use the raw data as a starting point, and then generalise the data by removing unnecessary detail. This draws attention to the overall shapes of the mountain ranges and valleys.
  • 27. These manual shaded relief maps by Tom Patterson are a really nice example of scale-appropriate design. They use generalisation techniques such as subtraction, combination, smoothing and selective enhancement to make a much more effective map.
  • 28. naturalearthdata.com Tom Patterson is also behind the Natural Earth Project, which is a set of spatial data – borders, roads, urban areas, terrain etc. – that have all been manually generalised to look their best at fairly small scales. The key message with generalisation is that it’s totally ok to alter the geometry of your data, in order to make your map more effective. This might feel a bit wrong to those of us who are data-oriented, and who generally think that more spatial accuracy automatically makes a better map. But all maps are generalised, to some degree.
  • 29. So how might we apply generalisation to this simple example? There’s a lot of unnecessary detail in the rail network, such as rail yards and duplicate lines. It’s just visual clutter, so let’s get clean that up No one’s going to use this map for navigation either, so we can do the same thing to the roads.
  • 30. And we can generalise the main data (the points) on the map as well, perhaps by abstracting their spatial locations and dispersing them… …or by summing them up at generalised locations… …or by binning them into an areal unit and displaying the results as a choropleth map…
  • 31. …or even by highlighting concentrations of points by creating an interpolated density surface. Obviously there are tons of options when it comes to generalisation, and which techniques you select will depend on the specific nature of your data. Remember, though, that “good design must be honest” (Dieter Rams). Don’t generalise your data to the point where (intentionally or not), it starts to tell lies! The best maps out there tend to have a simplicity to them which is the result of a lot of deliberate, thoughtful decisions by the mapmaker about what can be safely abstracted for the sake of overall clarity.
  • 32. COMPOSITION Drive your point home If the previous design principles were about taking a high-level view of your data, and identifying its key points to display it in the most effective way possible… …then composition is all about taking a high- level view of your map as a whole, and making design decisions that tie everything together.
  • 33. I realise this might be hard for GIS people to relate to, since the arrangement and styling of elements like legends, titles, charts and scale bars is pretty far removed from the underlying spatial data. And defaults and templates are both a blessing and a curse here. It’s so quick and easy to create these elements in ArcMap, but this in turn makes their appearance sometimes seem generic, and their arrangement can seem almost pre-determined.
  • 34. But by applying the design principles I’ve already shown you to your map surrounds rather than your map data, you’ll find it’s actually pretty straightforward to create more effective map compositions. Here you can see the principles of hierarchy and colour at work, giving consideration to the relative visual weight of each layout element. And if another form of data visualisation, such as a chart or a graph, can help you get your point across, then it should absolutely be incorporated into the map layout itself, rather than have it sit on a separate page or in an appendix. When it comes to map composition, it’s worth going the extra mile for the boost it can give to the overall accessibility of the map as a whole.
  • 35. HIERARCHY COLOUR GENERALISATION COMPOSITION So these are the fundamentals of visual design that are most relevant to mapmakers. Pretty simple to understand, aren’t they? Now that you’re a budding cartographic designer, where do you go from here? Well, now that you have the knowledge required to break a map design down into its individual components, you should try to do exactly that, as often as possible. Look at your own maps, look at maps made by others, and even look at non-map examples of visual design. Use your newly-trained eye and deconstruct everything you see into these component design elements; try to describe how each one has been used.
  • 36. David Imus - imusgeographics.com For example, on this map, the saturated yellow of the urban areas (with a higher visual weight) stand out as the dominant element. The sub-dominant roads are darker in value and less saturated. And the rest of the topographic data is visually subordinate, fading into the background with lighter hues and even less saturation. There is a clear grouping of labels into dominant, sub-dominant and subordinate hierarchical levels, based on size and weight. And in terms of the roads and natural landscape, a lot of thought has gone into removing unnecessary features for the sake of overall clarity.
  • 37. telegeography.com On this map, obviously the spatial locations of the cables themselves have been heavily abstracted. And that’s because the point of this map is not to show the exact path that the cables take across the seafloor, but rather it’s about the magnitude and type of linkages between continents. The unified design theme in the composition of this map is also pretty remarkable; the theme has heavily influenced the colours and fonts chosen, as well as the overall layout. The vignettes in the corners show cable capacity; and the apparent scale bars actually provide data on signal latency. So the composition of this map actively encourages the reader to engage with the data it presents.
  • 38. telegeography.com To emphasise the importance of composition, here’s another cable map, also by TeleGeography, and showing much the same data as the previous example. But the design decisions made in the composition of this map mean that it has a completely different, more modern feel. Notice in particular how the orange and blue colour scheme, chosen to compliment the underlying satellite imagery, flows through to all of the hierarchical levels of design on the map - and these colours can even be seen in the charts in the map layout.
  • 39. Christopher Ingraham wapo.st/wonkblog This one is just a nice example of how less can be more in map design. The solar radiation data has been generalised into just eleven categories. And there’s no other spatial data on the maps besides light state borders. But the unambiguous colour scheme and the use of small multiples in the composition makes the temporal nature of the overall story crystal clear.
  • 40. Nate Wessel – cincymap.org The data shown on this map is only that which is relevant to cyclists. The map as a whole has a very harmonious pastel colour scheme; but the subtle differences in hue, saturation and value are enough to differentiate between features. By making the bike lanes and paths thick, black, visually dominant lines, a clear visual hierarchy is established in the data. A lot of thought has gone into the design of this legend. It’s informationally dense, but still aesthetically pleasing, and it invites the reader to explore the data.
  • 41. NO TEMPLATES TRAIN YOUR EYE The other thing you should do, besides training your eye for visual design as much as possible… …is to lay off the templates (and pre- symbolised layer files, and default symbology), for a while at least. Making a great map requires conscious and intentional design decisions, and templates tend to get in the way of that. Build up your maps element by element, being mindful of each of the key design principles as you go.
  • 42. COLLABORATE! Finally, I think the most important thing you can do to improve your design skills is to work with other mapmakers. Share your maps as much as possible, and collaborate on design challenges you’re facing. To return to my language analogy, collaboration is so important because, just like learning a spoken language, you will only really improve by having conversations with other people. So I hope I’ve been able to at least give you a phrasebook that you can use to start speaking the language of visual design.
  • 43. THANKS! And I’m looking forward to seeing some of the beautiful maps you’ll go on to create! Get in touch if you have any questions or comments! Nathaniel.Jeffrey@gmail.com njeffrey@Urbis.com.au https://au.linkedin.com/in/nathanieljeffrey Now check out the collection of links and resources at the end of this presentation, and get inspired!
  • 44. MAPS USED IN THIS PRESENTATION The Essential Geography of the United States of America This map is the result of nearly 6,000 hours of thoughtful design and attention to detail. Middle East Telecommunications Map 2015 All of the maps in the TeleGeography map gallery are great examples of how a well-designed map facilitates curiosity and understanding. Big thanks to all of these cartographersfor lettingme use their work to illustratemy points. Check out their websites for more inspiration! David Imus Submarine Cable Map 2015 TeleGeography The Dispersion of Life and Gender in New York Simple, almost minimalist design can sometimes be the best way to illustrate a story told by complex data. John Nelson Cincinnati Bike Map For a map that communicates so much information, good design choices make this one impressively clear and readable. Great legend, too! Nate Wessel Where America's sunniest and least-sunny places are Unambiguous colours and effective composition give this simple design a high degree of clarity. Christopher Ingraham/ Washington Post
  • 45. RESOURCES Esri Map Book BOOKS Past volumes of the Esri Map Book are available to browse online, highlighting some of the best examples of map design using the ArcGIS suite. Atlas of Design Two volumes of diverse and very well designed maps. The blog on the website also has some good detailed discussion on the design of individual maps. Semiology of Graphics Esri has reprinted one of the foundational books about cartographic design, Jaques Bertin’s Semiology of Graphics from 1967. Non-Designer's Design Book Robin Williams An accessible, in-depth introduction to the key principles of visual design. Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills David Sherwin While not specifically related to map design, most of the exercises in this book can be modified slightly for cartographers. Giving yourself constraints can be one of the best ways to unleash creativity. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative Austin Kleon A short, humorous overview of the professional challenges faced by visual designers. I found that almost everything in this book applies equally to map makers. A collection of visual design-related resources that I’ve found to be useful and engaging
  • 46. Why city flags may be the worst- designed thing you've never noticed VIDEOS Roman Mars on flag designs; specifically, why municipal flags are often so terrible. An engaging perspective on the perils of “design by committee.” The Fundamental Elements of Design A quick overview of the basic building blocks of visual design. John Maeda on the simple life Designer John Maeda talks about the merits and importance of simplicity. Paletton ONLINE TOOLS AND RESOURCES These are all online palette creation apps; very useful for creating colour schemes that work. colorvis This is a simple but very effective tool for creating colour gradients. Playing with this will give you a clearer understanding of how colour spaces, hue and saturation all work together. The New Defaults These sites are both attempts by designers to create basic palettes that are much nicer than the default Windows palette. Grab the RGB values and use them as a base for your own ArcMap colour styles. Adobe Color CC iWantHue Color Calculator ColRD A nice selection of user-create palettes and gradients. Better default color palette
  • 47. MORE ONLINE TOOLS AND RESOURCES These are both examples of online map styling tools. These are a good way to get a quick feel for how different colour schemes work on a map, even if you’re not creating an online map. Designspiration A good site for general design inspiration, but the real value is in the ability to search by colour. Font Squirrel An excellent repository of fonts and symbols, free for commercial use. Mapsense CSS Machine Vector Tiles Styler Project Linework Daniel Huffman’s Project Linework - A set of generalised administrative boundaries for small- scale mapping. BLOGS AND ONLINE ARTICLES Maps We Love Esri’s “Maps We Love” blog. A good showcase of what’s possible using the ArcGIS platform. MapCarte Kenneth Field blogs about a different map each day for a whole year, highlighting what makes each one great (or not so great). A really diverse selection of maps here, great for honing your visual design critiquing skills. CartoNerd Another blog by Kenneth Field, which largely focuses on poorly-designed maps, and what could be done to fix them. Make maps people want to look at An introductory article from Esri on the basic elements of good map design. Map Design (wiki.gis.com) This is the root page for Map Design on Esri’s GIS wiki. Check out some of the linked articles and see if you can contribute some improvements or additions.
  • 48. MORE BLOGS AND ONLINE ARTICLES UX.Blog (John Nelson) Insightful posts on data visualisation, with a strong cartographic bent, and a good eye for design. The Cartographic Aesthetic The rest of the blog is worth a look, but this post in particular could make you reflect on why your maps look the way they do. Labeling and text hierarchy in cartography A good, detailed article about labelling maps, covering the importance of hierarchy in label placement, as well as font selection. CartoTalk NACIS’ CartoTalk forum - a great place to get feedback on the design of your maps. Material Design Specification This is Google’s design specification for their “Material Design” standards. It’s worth having a look at, not necessarily for the specific details, but just to get an idea of what a detailed design guide looks like. Cartographic Design Principles A very good (and recent) series of brief blog posts by the UK Ordnance Survey on cartographic design. MapLift MapLift is an initiative by NACIS to improve the maps that appear on Wikipedia articles. This is a good chance to flex your cartographic muscles in a collaborative environment. Color Theory for Designers Part 1 of a three part series, which covers colour theory, composition, and creating your own colour schemes. How we created color scales An interesting account of the process used to design a colour scheme from scratch. Does red weigh more than blue? A short an interesting article about the relative “weights” of different colours.

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