Creating the display of information may involve activities such as tabling, graphing, mapping, sizing, colouring, formatting, illustrating and photographing. Each type of display will follow certain conventions or methods. Becoming more familiar with these conventions and adding some functional design will help you achieve professional results (see General conventions for visual displays).
It is useful to be aware of how your visual display is seen. Visual perception is selective – we focus on some things and ignore others. Characteristics of a scene that stand out – such as brightness, colour, contrast or orientation – might get our attention, or we might recognise a familiar pattern that keeps our eyes busy. Cognitive factors and memory also play a role in what our eyes are drawn to. For example, designers and advertising executives play on our emotions in visual displays to sell products.
However, designing for information and data is a little different. Rather than focusing on advertising principles of emotional pull and attraction, information-based displays should aim for clarity and accuracy to increase reader understanding.