The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Visual Design
I was excited to read that in course 3 in COETAIL, we will be learning about visual literacy and design. I’ve often been drawn to tasks that required thinking in terms of images and design, and, although in the past I had not explicitly thought about what makes something aesthetically pleasing to the eye, I get a warm feeling when something is visually beautiful.
I recently attended a conference session where the presenter showed us how her students were learning about World War II and how they used video, instead of writing an essay, to showcase their learning. She had written a very descriptive rubric to assess the content of the video, but the criteria to assess the production and aesthetics of the actual video were very limited. With the increase in video production and design tools in the market, students have an extensive array of choices; however, very few educators have the knowledge to teach about visual literacy and how to communicate assertively with images, sounds, and text. We must develop a critical eye in the saturated media environment era. The individuals who can master the language of effective communication will have a great advantage over others.
This is what the famous George Lucas film director thought in 2004 in the article about visual literacy in education; nonetheless, after 13 years, we continue to be in need of more explicit instruction on the subject.
Today we work with the written or spoken word as the primary form of communication. But we also need to understand the importance of graphics, music, and cinema, which are just as powerful and in some ways more deeply intertwined with young people’s culture. We live and work in a visually sophisticated world, so we must be sophisticated in using all the forms of communication, not just the written word.
In order to apply what I had learned from the readings about web design, I decided to focus on the header of my blog. I noticed my picture was too small in relation to the whole space. The quote that I used was almost lost, and the calendar widget, placed in the right corner, served no purpose. I came to the conclusion that I had not taken the time to learn the different design features that the site provided, and the task for this week was just what I needed to be motivated to learn.
At first, I started using the pictures that WordPress offered, but I wasn’t pleased with the results. Then, I realized that it was easier to create something using Canva to be able to play with colors and fonts. In addition, I found an infographic embedded in a blog post that summarized a few design principals mentioned in this week’s readings.
Even though I could spend hours and hours changing and tweaking the new header, I am satisfied with the improvement. I used the principle of contrast to play with colors to highlight my name and the words. I am also aware of how proximity can play an important role to separate aspects of the design. I changed the color of the menus to complement the main color, orange.
After I was prepared to download the desired image, I ran into a problem with the size of the file that the WordPress header required, so I had to carefully problem solved to produce a picture with dimensions 1380 px x 280 px. The paid version of Canva allows users to customize the image size, so I signed up for the free paid trial to solve the problem.
I am looking forward to learning more about visual literacy. I am predicting that I will start looking at designs with different eyes now. I think I may become a bit obsessed!