VIVID (Increase Growth by Visual Design) conference


Yesterday (24 Jan 2013) I attended the VIVID conference at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), in Cambridge.

It was a one day conference with an eclectic programme mixing academic and industry speakers, as well as presentations of several projects under the VIVID initiative.

The conference started with a short introduction by the Dean of ARU, who highlighted Cambridge as one of the UK’s largest technological hotspots, including a strong local games industry. He also stressed the need for local universities to promote technology more.

introduction slide
Introduction slide

Following was an opening speech by the Mayor of the City of Cambridge, Cllr Stuart (who, by the way, was wearing a rather fancy necklace).

Cllr Stuart, Mayor of Cambridhe
Cllr Stuart, Mayor of Cambridhe

CMYK: Creating Masterpieces with Your Kansei

Peter Andic, UX Researcher at Qualcomm talked about the role of visual design in enhancing the user experience.

Key takeaways

  • Use graphical elements to design a visual experience.
  • Visual Design is about brand, consistency, icons, logos, typography, colours, etc.
  • Visual Design enhances the message we’re trying to deliver.
  • Visual Design is used to help the users to get to where they want to go, quickly.
  • Visual Design acts as a mood enhancer, adding value to the user experience with quality concepts and attention to detail (not just making something look pretty.
  • Visual emotion elements: typography + colour + imagery + layout.
  • Typography should be something the users least notice.
    The right typeface is a combination of: typeface style; size; weight; colour; position.
  • Colour should meet branding guidelines, including images, and be accessible.
  • Imagery is used to maximise the visual impact of the content.
    Composition and quality are important; it should not be distracting; ensure overlaid content is readable and clear; make your design feel ‘designed.
  • Layout: keep it simple; use white space considerately, maximising the visual impact of all elements; helps users know where to go.
Peter Andic ending slide
Peter Andic ending slide

A world shifting between the analog and the digital

Alida Brouwer from Studio Roosengaard showed how our experience of social physical environments can be enhanced with technology.

Some of their very interesting projects can be seen here:

Visual design: There is more to it than meets the eye

Dr Catherine Jansson-Boyd, senior lecturer in Psychology at ARU, talked about how visual aesthetics can guide behaviour and how visual elements are not ‘stand-alone’ but influenced by multi-sensory perspectives.

Key takeaways

  • Clutter is a problem for all senses in most types of environment. Our senses become dulled with exposure to continuous stimuli.
  • Attention in perception can be compared to a search light.
  • First thing humans do is to visually search for a target.
  • Perception starts working as soon as we start scanning for elements to focus on.
  • Perception is biased based on out past experiences.
  • Encourage audience participation with simple cognitive work, as in the example below (brain will fill in the gaps automatically, based on past experience)
    J&B ad
    J&B ad
  • Touch as the capacity to alter the way in which consumers view objects. People are not aware of their need to be tactile.

Designing experiences

Janet Bewell, Lead UX Specialist at Akendi has presented how visual design and user experience intersect.

Key takeaways

  • Involve users at every step of the process.
  • The environment will change how people interact with products and services.
  • Design approach: it should start with user research.

Akendi's UX foundationAkendi's design approach

Developments in mobile media

Carlos Santos, lecturer at NHTV University of Applied Sciences in Breda, has presented how the semantic web opens new alleys for commercial communication.

Key takeaways

  • Does your mobile know you? Mobile phones hold a lot of personal data (bank details, calendar, etc), however the user has to proactively look for this information if s/he wishes to use it.
  • Data stored in mobile devices can be used to create personalised context aware experinces, using a combination of recommender filters.


Crossing over: Embracing the creative industry as the catalyst for economic and scientific innovation

Tim Laning, owner of Grendel Games has shown how his company has developed games for medical rehabilitation (CAREN: Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment) and surgeon training (Underground game).

Information Visualisation

Allard Roeterink, Design tutor at Avans CMD Breda and Design Academy Eindhoven, has shown how his students translate complex information into graphical, interactive explanations.

Allard Roeterink
Allard Roeterink

Infographic example
Infographic example

6 steps to Information Design
6 steps to Information Design

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