Visual Ergonomics

A HABIT AFTER PRACTICE

The term Visual meaning “a picture or an illustration” and Ergonomics meaning “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment” combines to form the term Visual ergonomics i.e the study which deals with the understanding of human visual sense and its interaction with other elements in the universe.

When I look at the starlit sky, my eyes first capture the black belt constellation. It is because of the flow which is seen in that particular form. Rhythm is one of the most important factors. Considering an A4 sheet of paper as a starlit sky and black belt constellation as one block of information, the aim is to arrange it in such a way so that a visual hierarchy is achieved and visual hierarchy creates rhythm. This was observed on the very first day of Visual Ergonomics module when we practiced visual order using seven elements of a poster namely title, subtitle, venue, date and time, organiser, information and visual. We played with the sequence of this seven elements in five different ways according to the most important and least important information. This learning process of the visual order was really helpful in terms of Layout Design.

On a new moon night, stars seem brighter as compared to other phases of the moon and especially the full moon when the full moon itself is the emphasis and stars seem dull in the night sky. Another important factor of visual ergonomics is Contrast. For example, Black Title looks legible on a white background but it’s not same the other way round especially if the title is a serif. It is because of the thin strokes of serif font that appears to merge with the dark background. Bold San Serif white Title is readable on a black background. Extending from Black and white contrast to colour, there are so many colour schemes and theories with which we can play around using the background and the text. Also, a text is not just a text. For designers, it’s an object, a visual that creates a texture.

One of the most challenging tasks is to design within a grid in such a way that the viewer’s attention is paid to all the elements and none of them is ignored. Just like it is impossible to look at all the stars at once as they are scattered over a larger area, it is quite challenging to draw viewer’s attention to all of the elements at once. Scattering of the information looks very disturbing to the eye. To avoid that we learned the grid system, tinkered with alignments, leading, tracking, kerning and font sizes. Font style plays a vital role in the layout. It was observed that too many font styles made the layout look cluttered. Not more than three font styles should be used in a layout. Other information can be highlighted using a combination of a light, semibold, bold, italic and regular font.

Tinkering with font styles also developed our taste of choosing fonts. After this exercise, it is easy to memorise which font will look better for what text without actually trying each and every font for the particular text. With this kind of learning process, we become more sensitive towards the text. Then using it very carefully becomes our habit. The dot after Please, the exclamation after Thank You and the question mark after what does not increase in number after practicing this. From text replies, what’s app message with text and emoticons to Facebook Status — All are in harmony. Thus, Visual Ergonomics is an art that becomes a habit after practice.

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