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Form Follows Function

Modern architecture and industrial design have often promoted the ideal of form following function; in other words, the design of a structure should be based upon the purpose it’s supposed to serve. And as I read through the second chapter in the WSJ book, it seemed that much of what Wong was emphasizing was the very same.

While creativity and originality are assets to any graphic, the priority has to be set on the best way in which to convey information and to make sure the reader or viewer can clearly understand the visual story you’re trying to tell. And that seems pretty obvious, but I think it’s something that’s easy to lose sight of. Ruisha mentioned her frustration with the roach graphic James showed us in class and that was the perfect case in point. There’s a creative ambition there, but it seems to have no benefit in the context of the graphic as it points out fairly obvious information and makes things look a bit too busy.

I think it can get frustrating sometimes when you feel like you’re not making something noticeably creative, but oftentimes it seems like some stories and information sort of require something straightforward. Wong mentions things like too detailed icons (86), inappropriately trying to spice up simple pie charts with 3D (76), or even simple things like trying to make trends look more dramatic or compelling by fudging with the increment of units (50).

I think it’s important to take advantage of the software and skills we’re learning and be creative and ambitious. But I think we also have to exercise good judgment and pragmatism as well and make sure we’re doing our best to present the information in the most direct and effective way possible.

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About esst2d

Third-year Convergence journalism student at University of Missouri.

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