Monday, August 31, 2009

Design is contextual


That design is contextual, or rather, good design is contextual is a bit of a duh. But still worth reminding ourselves from time to time.

I was reminded reading Garr Reynold’s recent posterous on Japanese elections. What I noticed first was how colorful the screen shots of election results from Japanese TV are and I have to admit my first thought was “wow, you’d never see that on CNN.” But that’s the point. As Garr noted, Japanese TV likes lots of color, it’s part of their visual grammar. So in context, it may be good design (the first chart is clear and makes its point) even though it probably wouldn’t ever appear on any US cable news.

But you don’t have to go overseas to find different contexts that call for different design. For example, creating a great presentation that works well in ballroom speech to 300 like-minded technical colleagues probably won’t translate in explaining (aka selling) the same idea to a small group of non-technical potential customers (buyers).

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