More about seeing color differently

My last post Seeing Color Differently inspired by realizing Kevin can’t see my favorite iphone game generated a interesting comment string.

Cathy Moore said “color alone isn’t a reliable way to deliver a message.” That really got me to thinking how often I rely on color to convey a feeling or communicate emotion. Then I realized Kevin, and others with red/green challenges couldn’t see my logo colors. I went back to the Vischeck tool to run some more examples.

And those with blue/yellow challenges see something else entirely.

When I think about my brand, it is the colors I think about. I have a whole wardrobe of clothing in lime green and orange that I wear when I am in ‘business’ mode. I print handout covers on my color. I even have toys in my logo colors to play with during training classes. Lets say I am color identified. I made a comment to Kevin on the last post,

Now I also see my logo colors are out of the range you can see, so you see everything on my sites as yucky yellow brown.

and he comes back with

The thing is, I don’t attach characteristics or feelings to color as you might. The colors are yellow-brownish, but I wouldn’t call them ‘yucky’. I wouldn’t call them anything – just there. I have never really noticed your colors before – again, they were just what they were but I largely ignore color altogether.

Because I am deficient in the color world, I have almost disassociated color with everything. Yes, it is there, but I don’t make decisions by it or attribute anything to it. For example, on a traffic light, I go when the bottom light lights up and stop when either the middle or top light up – but it is according to position, not color. When I approach a flashing intersection light in the country I never know if it is caution or stop.

Wow. This has been a slow seeping in of realization of how totally different my day to day reality is from Kevin’s. I started noticing how driving down the highway at night is not the same for us.

It seems like it would take a lot more effort to discern taillights without the color contrast as a cue. Virgina Yonkers reminds us,

I know from my cross cultural training, that it is difficult to get people to recognize that they may perceive things differently than others, and how others perceive those things.

I would say it even goes deeper than that. Even when we intellectually understand the difference, and even see examples, we may not really fully understand until we can put the information into a context that makes sense to us personally. Not being able to play an iphone game, see my logo colors and realizing taillights are red did that for me. My understanding of seeing color differently deepened considerably.

Thanks Kevin for sharing a piece of your reality that I didn’t really fully understand before.


Seeing color differently

Kevin Jones was stuck in an all day meeting, twittering on his iphone. I tweeted back that he should be playing iphone games. Long story short, I suggested one of my favorites for boring meetings and classes, Trism. He tweeted back, what about something not about color?

I forgot. He doesn’t see color the same as I do. And I realized all the games I like to play are based on color. What does this really mean? I went over to Vischeck, a tool that enables me to see things like he does.

Kevin, as you would say— I cry.


What Makes a Visual Thinker?

VizThink is a community of visual thinkers. What does this really mean? Tom Crawford, the CEO of VizThink recently joined me using the VisualsSpeak ImageSet to explore this in two video podcasts. The first one can be found on the VizThink blog.

In the second one, we talk in more depth about what the visual language can tell us. This podcast is part of the premium VizThink community site. You can join for free, with a 60-day trial of the premium content. There are a number of webinars, and podcasts on a wide variety of visual thinking topics. I have watched all of them, and have learned a lot. I consider this site an important part of my professional development, and encourage you to consider it for yourself.

This is all in preparation for the VizThink North America 09 conference in San Jose, CA on February 22-25. There is nothing like being with a whole conference full of visual thinkers for inspiration and sharpening or developing skills. You can get a $100 discount on the conference with the code DCCM01.

Love to see you in San Jose. Do let me know if you will be there so we can connect.


Using visuals to discover deep metaphors

I’ve recently read, Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal About the Minds of Consumers. Written by Professor Emeritus from Harvard, Gerald Zaltman and his son Lindsay, it is an exploration of what they have identified as the seven deep metaphors that influence what we think, hear, say and do.

What do visuals have to do with it?

The Zaltmans have developed a patented process, Zaltman Methaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET). It involves asking people to find photographs about their feelings toward something specific. Through structured interviews and working with a graphic designer, a collage image is digitally constructed about the topic. You can see some small pieces of the process in this video.

What stands out for me in this video, and as it did in the book is the description how often we are lead astray in our thinking by focusing on surface differences rather than searching for the significant similarities expressed in deep metaphors.

Three Levels of Metaphors

The Zaltmans describe three levels of metaphors, and use this example:

Surface Metaphors

  • Money runs through his fingers
  • I am drowning in debt
  • Don’t pour your money down the drain
  • The bank froze his assets

Metaphor Theme

  • Money is like liquid

Deep Metaphor

  • Resource

It is through understanding the deep metaphors that we understand the roots of our business challenges. Visual exploration identifies the subconscious drivers of behavior by helping us see the deep metaphors.

As I developed the VisualsSpeak ImageSet, we looked a lot at metaphor. In the testing of potential images, we found that the images that depicted surface metaphors did not inspire deep insights as readily as images that were more elemental. We decided to offer participants the opportunity to construct their own metaphors by providing a visual language set to do it with. This is one part of why we consistently hear people get new insights when they work with our tools.

Thinking Deeply

One of the more interesting articles coming from the publicity for the book was published by the Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge Newsletter, Why Don’t Managers Think Deeply?.

In decrying the lack of what they call “deep thinking” among managers and especially those responsible for marketing, they suggest some things that get in its way. Among them are:

  1. reluctance to take risk, especially when short-term performance is at stake,
  2. the fear of disruption resulting from “thinking differently and deeply,”
  3. the potential psychological cost of changing one’s mind resulting from deep thinking,
  4. the lack of information providing deep insights on which to base deep thinking.

The articles inspired 136 comments. Many of comments pointed to the limitations of thinking embedded into the management levels of many organizations. Even more pointed to the perception of a lack of time. Yet, doesn’t it take way more time when an organization is not thinking deeply enough about what it is doing?

Why don’t managers use visuals to help them think?

Even though the ZMET uses visuals and words to uncover the core metaphors that drive customer behavior, a a major portion of this book is describing the seven metaphors. Might part of the problem be managers don’t have the visual thinking skills or access to the tools that allow for deep thinking? Seems there is an almost obsessive focus on finding the ‘answer’, but not so much on making sure the process used to get there can actually accommodate the scale of the issue.

Visual Thinking resources

In the past many of the resources for learning to use visual thinking have been scattered. There are a number of companies who work in the space across a wide range of price points, who take a range of approaches. Luckily, we now have Vizthink, which is helping to form a worldwide community of people who work in this space. The inaugural conference was held in Jan, and I was fortunate to participate as a facilitator and exhibitor. You can see the ways we used VisualsSpeak, graphic facilitation, and mind mapping to explore market position in this series of posts:

The VizThink blog has series of webinars from leaders in the space including Dave Gray, David Sibbet, Nancy Duarte, Jamie Nast, and Chuck Frey. There is also a series of podcasts on a variety of visual topics.

For those who prefer to learn from books, here are some of the books you might start with. (Really I just wanted to put the interesting spinning visual on my blog, but these really are favorite books)

Other posts I have written on visual language include

What can we do to get visuals in the hands of managers to help them think more deeply? What do you need to know in order to be willing to use visuals? What would help?


Visual business cards

I attended a workshop last week sponsored by the Senior Forum of ASTD-Cascadia, Improve New Hire Productivity Using Visual Thinking. It was facilitated by Barrie Levinson, the Director of Consulting at Xplane.

Visual Business Cards

visual Business Card

The first thing we did was to quickly draw our own visual business cards, and share them with someone else. Simple quick sketches drawn on business card size paper with Sharpie markers.

Mine shows I use the computer and photography to work with groups of people. It’s not a great drawing. People don’t look like a circle with a line below it, yet when I tell you that is what it represents, it works. The person I was paired with in the exercise understood something about what I did.

What does my card say I do? Business Card

Image-based Training & Consulting.

I know, no one knows what that means. It is eye-catching with great graphics. I have yet to come up with an effective concise description of what I do.

OK, really I haven’t come up with a paragraph to describe my work. Yet, I can show you in a few minutes. In many ways, the quick rough sketch tells you a lot more than the expensive professionally designed version about what I do.

Now I don’t think I am ready to ditch my cards that actually give you contact information. I do need a new tagline (any ideas???). But I am thinking about ways to use the back of my card to show something more meaningful.

What did other participants think of the visual cards?

When asked to reflect on what it was like to introduce yourself visually, and to hear others’ explanations, this is what participants reported:

  • easier
  • more enjoyable
  • sustainable
  • relaxing
  • evoked more questions
  • learned about the person
  • easier to understand what the job entailed
  • faster to understand
  • gets past the jargon and buzzwords
  • engaged interaction
  • immediately multidimensional
  • focuses on one component
  • works when both are on the same plane, similar expectations
  • requires talent and confidence
  • some jobs are easier to depict than others

I certainly don’t hear those outcomes from exchanging regular business cards. So why don’t we see these methods being used more frequently?

What are we really trying to do with a card?

Guy’s business cardA few weeks ago Guy Kawasaki wrote a post about his new business card . No pictures, but nothing extra. Guy is about his websites, which are all listed there.

They were designed by Justin Ruckman. You can see many examples on his site of simple effective design, and the thing that jumps out at me, is you really get a sense of what people do.

Visuals don’t have to be the answer. Guy’s card is really effective using words. Now I would argue that a large part of the effectiveness of the words are their visual quality. So I don’t think the answer is the same for everyone.

How would you show people what you do?


Suggestions for a visually noisy blog

This is the second post for looking at the visual details that effect how we read a blog. Part 1: What to do with a visually noisy blog focused on the design of the template that was modified for the School of Thought blog.

Part 2: Ideas for visually simplifying a blog

First I want to acknowledge the blog we are talking about in this post is chock full of great information and resources. So the goal here is to make that come front and center in a way that isn’t quite so visually overwhelming.

When I started blogging there were so many cool widgets and things to stick in my sidebar that I wanted to try them all. Even being conscious of the visual impact, I still did it. Then I read Skellie’s 50 Ways to Unclutter Your Blog. It really helped me to think more in terms of the readers perspective and about what I was trying to do. I pulled a lot of stuff off my blog that day.

What are readers looking for when they come to your blog?

I think this may be really different from blog to blog, and perhaps from reader to reader. When I come to a blog, the first thing I look at is the tagline for an overall sense of what it is about. I want to see who the author is and something about them. I look for categories or tags so I get a general overview of the topics the person is writing about. Therefore, when I look at the visuals on a blog, my opinions are influenced by what I want to see. Ultimately what works for a particular blog is a balance between what the owner is trying to convey and their readers’ needs.

Customizing a template

Stardust ThemeThe School of Thought blog uses a customized version of Stardust, which I talked about in part 1. The most obvious difference is that the two column design from the original template has been converted to three columns. In the last post we talked about how people read in an F pattern on the web. When there are three columns, the reading pattern is slightly different. The eye can go on several paths, which may become confusing.

Sue Waters wondered:

Based on how you have explained people read online I now wondering how whether a left and right sidebar change this reading pattern and are they competing for attention with the post?

And Sue Wyatt saw it like this:

I never thought about the way my template might be read – choices of colour, number of columns, left to right in F pattern. I went into Fred’s blog and immediately the black writing got my eye, but further down the page the red on the left drew my eye first. I don’t think I even looked at the right hand side.

The second thing is the decorative flourish that separated the post from the right sidebar, in the original template, has been removed. The flourish provided a visual diverter to keep the eye going back to the posts. Without it, the visual path leads the eye almost off the right side.

School of Thought blog

What else is affecting how the eye moves?

The picture of Fred helps lead the eye into the post. The description below the photo appears as a grey rectangle. There is nothing to break up the block. Therefore, even though the words are situated in a place which normally would get a lot of attention, they melt into the background. I wouldn’t normally read something in a block like this. The content is great; warm, welcoming, engaging. But you have to get people to read it to know that. Sue Waters noticed:

Fred’s image plus information on the left is dominating the blog dragging my eyes to the left. I don’t think that is a bad thing but feel that the wording needs to be shortened and broken up to make it more concise.

How might you do this? Break it up into shorter parts. Use some bold? Maybe a bullet? Use a shorter excerpt and lead people to a longer version on the About page? Lots of choices.

As you scroll down, there are long lists of red links in small type. To my eye, when I try to focus on reading the post, it feels like the red links are trying to pull my eyes in two directions. Since it is a flexible width blog, I can reduce this on my 23″ Cinema Display, but there isn’t enough room on the 17″ monitor on my Windows machine at home. It gets even more dramatic on my 12″ laptop.

red sidebars

Manish Mohan saw it this way:

On Fred’s blog I basically read through the middle column. The text was easy to read in the middle. The side bars (left and right) have very small font text. So even though the color is red, and like you say pulls the eye, I ignored it completely. Perhaps it is because unconsciously I know that the main content on the page is in the middle column, perhaps because the middle column is significantly easier to read with bigger font. Only after I had scanned through the posts content did I review the page again for snippets on the sidebars to see if there was anything interesting.

Prime Blog Real Estate

For any blog, the things that are most important to our readers should be in the most prominent places on the blog. This may vary from blog to blog, but I suspect for a large percentage of people the most crucial elements are:

  • Name of the blog
  • The tagline (what it is about)
  • Something about the author
  • Where to subscribe
  • Categories or most popular posts
  • Ads if you are blogging for income

The prime real estate on a blog are the header, the top of the sidebars and anything that is above the fold (meaning things that show without having to scroll).

Right now on Fred’s blog we have the name, tagline, how to search and a way to subscribe labeled RSS in the header. At the top of the sidebar on the left is a picture of Fred. On the right where the eye is being most strongly lead, there is a link that brings you to another site. Underneath it is the login area for the author.


There are lots of possibilities and a variety of reasons you might go one way or another. If there are statistics available, I would look at what people are clicking on. That would help me see what is important to my readers.

Here is one idea. It’s a sketch I created by taking screenshots and rearranging them, so it’s just to get an idea of how this might look.

rearranged site

I would select the most important links on the site to go in the left column. I usually put my categories here. Fred has a lot of link lists, and it’s not clear to me which ones he thinks are most important for his readers. I would identify what they are and put them here. Right now, categories are in a drop down menu, and there are lot of them. I’d think about shortening the number of categories and listing them out to make them more accessible. I would also place them as high up as possible on the template.

I moved Fred’s picture to the right since that is where this particular template naturally leads the eye. This has the added benefit of deflecting the eye back toward the posts. He could also enhance the visual path back to the post by breaking up the text underneath using bold letters, bullets, and/or paragraphs.

I’d add a Feedburner subscribe link, or some other one that uses natural language. Yes, there is an RSS link above, but I suspect many of Fred’s readers do not know what RSS is. Might also consider a subscribe by email. I have placed the subscribe link where most people expect to find it.

As you scroll down the current blog page, there are multiple link lists. I would move some of them to static pages. This way the offerings you most want readers to see would show up in the horizontal navigation where they can see them when they arrive on your site. There is a lot of great information for readers on this site, but I don’t know how many people are discovering all that is available to them since it requires so much scrolling. There is also the problem with red links on both sides of the page. By removing a lot of the links and placing them on a static Resource page, this would help reduce how much scrolling people have to do in order to get to what they’re after.

I’d move the meta section to the bottom of the blog. Something like this is only for the author, and we know where to find it. It’s just confusing to readers who aren’t WordPress bloggers.

What else might Fred consider?

What do you notice about Fred’s blog? He’s looking for suggestions, so I’m sure he’d appreciate hearing from you. Especially if you are a first time reader, those fresh eyes can often be the most helpful.


What to do with a visually noisy blog

Part 1: Your template as your visual foundation

Fred Deutsch emailed me with a Help, help, help me subject line:

Hi, I really enjoy your site and am learning a lot. I’m wondering if you

might provide me some feedback or suggestions? I started my blog for two purposes — first to communicate with constituents and educational people, and second as a sort of reference area for me to list all my favorite sites (the side bars). But now that I’ve been blogging a few months, the blog page seems congested to me — or at least not as visually inviting as I would like it to be. Do you have any suggestions?

When I started looking at Fred’s site, I noticed a couple of things. But in order to really explain it, I need a couple of posts to do it. So I hope Fred can hang on while I talk about some of the visual basics under what is going on in his blog. When we select a template, we are choosing the foundation visuals of our blogs. I’m going to talk about the template Fred has chosen in this post, and write another post on the choices he has made that affect it.

How do people read on the web?

Eye tracking studies have shown people tend to read in an F shaped pattern online. These are heatmaps, where the areas that are most looked at are red, then yellow, then blue, with the grey areas being places that the eye skips over.

F-shaped eye tracking

Looking at these charts you can see there is a general overall pattern (the F pattern) but you can also see how there are visual elements that also pull the eye. For example, in the middle heatmap, there are arrows that point to a box on the right side.

So when design elements fall into this F pattern, it’s pretty easy for the eye to follow. If you want the eye to go in another pattern, you have to do something to get its attention.

The template underneath Fred’s blog

Fred uses a customized version of Stardust. It’s a black and white template with red accents. Red against the black and white provides a lot of contrast and the red strongly attracts the eye. There is a decorative spray of leaves that also acts to deflect the eye back toward the post.

Stardust Theme

You can see, if you remove the spray (see template below), there is nothing to stop the eye from being pulled off the right side. The links create tracks for our eyes to follow that lead our attention off the blog to the right. Now if you have a short post so there is another red calendar or a strong image inserted on the left, you may be able to pull the eye back. But how often do you write your posts to satisfy the visual need of your blog? (OK, so I might.)

Remove decoration

What can you do to change the way the eye moves?

In this case, you can darken the color of the links on the right. That will help the brighter reds move the eye back to the post.

Darken Links

In order to do this you need to get into the code and change a color number on the stylesheet. It isn’t terribly difficult, but you do have to pay attention and not modify the code in any other ways. There are several steps:

  1. Determine the color number of the current links so you can find it in the code
  2. Determine the color number you want to change them to
  3. Find the place in the CSS on the stylesheet that controls those links
  4. Change the color number

Finding colors

There are many ways to do this depending on the software you have access to. I’m showing the color picker in Photoshop, since that is the image program I use. First I took the screen shot of the template I show above, then open the image in Photoshop. I used the eyedropper tool to find the red used in the template, then selected a darker version of that color. The hexidecimal color number I need for the code is in the box at the bottom of the color picker.

Darker Red Links

Changing the Stylesheet in a WordPress blog

I installed this template on a testblog that has been updated to version 2.5.1. If you are using another version, the admin interface may look different, but the basic process is the same. Open the admin, go to the Design (used to be called Presentation) tab. Select Theme Editor, then Stylesheet. Scroll down until you find the code for the links (click on the image to see it larger and clearer type). Make the change and click update.

Change Link Color

Doing things in unconventional ways

Now, I am certainly one to break rules, especially in design. However, I do think about when it serves me and when it doesn’t. In a blog, we have many elements competing for attention. If we can use some elements that are familiar to the general user, those elements basically stop competing. We see them, recognize them, and move on.

This blog template chooses not to use the orange RSS symbol to subscribe to the feed. Instead it uses a link labeled RSS.

Usability expert Jacob Nielson has this to say:

The first, and strongest, guideline about news feeds is to stop calling them RSS. In our study, 82% of users had no idea what this term meant. Using implementation-oriented terminology is generally a bad idea, because most users don’t understand (or care about) the underlying technology. It’s better to use terms that indicate what the concept does for users. In this case, “news feed” does this far better than “RSS.”

How do you deal with a visually noisy blog?

OK, I’ve given you my perspective, now tell me yours. What do you think about this template and the visual flow? What do you do to increase the readability of your blog from a visual perspective?

Next up: suggestions for Fred’s blog

I’ll be putting up a second post on how to de-noize (I’m going to copyright this word, so don’t steal it) a blog, using Fred’s as an example. Some of the things we’ll be looking at are the unintentional consequences of changing the template and what are people looking for when they come to your blog.

Suggestions for a visually noisy blog


What makes these blog headers effective?

Jabiz Raisdana left a comment on Does my header make my blog look fat?,

I would love a quick run-down on what story you think my images tell.

He has three blogs, and I think all of Jabiz’s headers are effective for a number of reasons.


IntrepidJabiz uses Intrepid in all his titles. From the Visual Thesaurus, we see words related to intrepid on the left. I would expect his headers to evoke these types of feelings.

He has three blogs.

Looking at the the lines in his headers

Here are the headers from his blogs. I have used red to identify what I see as the dominant lines in each image. Notice how these lines direct the eye to the two important areas, the posts and his sidebar. I’ve also made specific comments about the images below each example.
Intrepid Teacher

On Intrepid Teacher, the use of a larger boy and a smaller one walking down an alley evokes fearlessness. You don’t know what is at the end around the corner. The larger boy looks like he is being supportive to the smaller one, much like a teacher would be to a student.

Intrepid Flame

On Intrepid Flame, the challis or bowl evokes a feeling of the unknown.

Intrepid Classroom

On Intrepid Classroom, the figures are going somewhere, but you don’t know where. They are all going together though. Much like we do in a classroom.

Interpretation of images can be very individual. Certainly affected by each of our experiences and cultural lenses. These are some of my impressions. What about you? And Jabiz, what were your intentions?

What makes these headers work?

It’s the combination of the visual and the verbal.

  1. There is something about each of the images that relates to the title. So, something that evokes the quality of intrepid.
  2. The dominant lines in the image guide the eye to the most important parts of the blog, the posts and the sidebar.

What else?

What do you see that you think makes a blog header effective? Any examples of headers you can point us to that are really great?


Does my header make my blog look fat?

Sue Waters has been cleaning up her blog again. She wasn’t happy with her former header image.


I assume this is the skyline of the Australian city she lives in? I don’t know for sure, and many of her other international readers may not know either. Is that a problem? Maybe, maybe not. But let’s look to see what she might be trying to convey for her blog.

What’s the blog about?

The title is Mobile Technology in TAFE. From her About page, we learn TAFE stands for Tertiary and Further Education. She is an aquaculture lecturer. But it doesn’t take reading very far to learn she is passionate about all kinds of technology. Not just a little, she lives and breathes it. And it’s not just using it, it’s about helping people all over the world learn how to use it.

The old image is busy. Lots of buildings, and the image is cropped so there is no space above the buildings. When she first started using this header, the busy visual quality reflected the posting frequency and how the blog was chock full of information.

The blog went on a diet

Now Sue didn’t stop her constant output of information, rather she added other outlets. She found Twitter early on, and it was a perfect medium for her. I still don’t get twitter, but I know everytime I log in, Sue will have posted something interesting to look at.

She also started writing for The Edublogger to help people using the Edublogs system. What I know is when any new thing comes out, if Sue hasn’t already written not only about how it works, but how to actually apply it in educational practice, she will very soon.

So if you follow Sue in various places, you know she has increased her output. If you only look at her personal blog, the quantity of information is lower. Not in quality, just quantity. So, I think her instinct to reduce the clutter in the visuals better reflects the new overall feel of her blog.

A new header image

Sue put up this new image.


And she got this comment from Christy Tucker

Does it seem like the header image leads your image off the right side of the page though? Look at the line of the rocks and the direction the person is facing–it seems to all be pointing off to the right. I wonder if you flipped the image horizontally if it would work better. You’d have to move the text somewhere else, perhaps, but with the image flipped it would draw your eye right down to the content.

Just a thought–you might want to check with Christine Martell or someone else more visually inclined. It’s possible I’m simply imagining things!

Well, Christy, you are not imaging things. The header does lead the eye to the right. But lets’ look at why.

At first glance, you might think it’s just the direction the boy is facing. This certainly contributes, but it’s aggravated by the type which is anchored visually by being right up against the left edge and visually pushes into the back of the boy.


Now, there aren’t any right answers for how to deal with this. Just some options to consider. First, you can move the type over so it leads the eye to circle back around the rocks.


If you have more image software skills, there are some other things you can do. You could shorten the tag line so it fits in the rocks, and flip the boy so he is looking back the other way. This shifts the eye to lead strongly down along the back of the boy. In order to really see if this works, you would need to look at it in the template to see how this lines up with the rest of the template.


You could also remove the boy entirely, and allow the header to lead the eye down the space between the rocks, but in a softer way.


Moving the type to the top balances the image standing along better, but once again, you would want to test it in the actual template to see how it works with the rest of the elements around it.


The same would be true for darker type. You would want to look at it in context, and pay particular attention to how it related to the title of the blog.


What do you want to say with your image?

We’ve made the isolated header work better visually, but does it say what Sue is trying to convey? She said:

the idea was the lonely person staring out into the vastness of the ocean wondering what to do and where to get help.

To make this work, we probably need to bring the boy back. However, when we face him toward the pile of rocks, he isn’t really looking out into the vastness. So, I moved him to the right and adjusted the type to visually relate the the framing of the rocks on the left and the boy on the right.


This leads the eye to circle back and focus on the tagline.


The type feels a bit crowded still, so I also try the shorter tag line and change the type color to relate to the lichen on the rocks below it. The water where I removed the boy also needed a bit more touch-up, and I could spend even more time improving it.


But what’s the right answer?

In design there isn’t a right answer. It’s a balance between what you are wanting to convey and the limitations of what you have to work with combined with the opinions and desires of the person who gets to decide. For a blog header, you are also affected by the template you are using and all of the other elements that surround the header.

Any of these headers can work. Let’s send it back to Sue and see what she thinks. And have her try some of them in her template to see how they work in context.

Design is a process of trial and error for many of us. It might look like we can just pull these things out of the air, but I think for most of us it is iterative. Some people can visualize exactly what they want in their heads then just create it, but I think there are many more of us that try lots of variations to see what will work.


Capturing attention with cute puppies

I’ve written about Beth Kanter’s use of images before, actually made a screencast about it which was selected as screencast of the week over at Techsmith.

This time I attended a webinar where Beth was a presenter. Usually when I am on a webinar, I am doing several other things. Email, reading blogs, perhaps on chat. Seldom does something compel me to give it full attention.

Beth did something very interesting, which kept me focused. Cute puppies. She has noticed that a lot of her audience of non-profit techies post pictures of themselves with their dogs online. So she came up with the idea that pictures of dogs would capture their attention.

Now I don’t even think of myself as a non-profit techie, and I have three cats not dogs. She was talking about the use of technology and social networking. Yet, my focus was captured by wanting to see what creative dog picture she would use next. Even more interesting to me was I had actually already seen the slide deck, and still I wanted to see how she would weave together the social media story with the dogs.