A display system is a means to transfer information. Don Norman (author of “Things That Make Us Smart”) likened creating a display system to telling a story. This is a powerful metaphor that people involved in display design or any type of information transfer should keep in mind. Consider if you were asked to write your life story, of which we will consider you an expert. Hopefully the first thing you would not do is just to start writing, which only super-human skill or luck would result in a good, readable story.
Instead you would organize your thoughts, determine which events were important and need emphasis, what sequence to present the events, and what to exclude. You might even create an outline before actually writing (the equivalent of laying out graphics). The pieces you would use to convey this information are the vocabulary and grammar rules of your native language.
Grammar and vocabulary is analogous to the pictures of pumps and vessels in display design. Good grammar and an extensive vocabulary do not make for an interesting story. In fact, sometimes I can have a good story even if grammar rules are violated or simple language is used. Likewise, while pumps and vessels are important to provide context in graphics, real-life detailed pictures don’t necessarily improve the display.
Finally, even though you are the expert on your life, it doesn’t mean you are the only one who can write the story. If this were true, no biographies would exist, only auto-biographies. Often having a professional writer tell your story is far more effective than if you tell it yourself. Likewise, a company with a strong background in display system design, like Beville, can create an efficient and effective display system. Beville has conducted over 40 graphics and standards development projects.
Copyright 2006 Beville Engineering, Inc.
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This year's Fall meeting for the Center for Operator Performance will be October 24-26 in Corpus Christi. For more information, please contact Lisa Via. Guests are always welcome!
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