Friday, September 23, 2005

Do You See What I See?

I’ve been mulling this article at Wired on differences in visual perception between cultures. Incredibly interesting stuff. The study is a macro view of something that happens between people, one-to-one, every day.

The most illustrative example I can think of in working with attorneys, and accountants for that matter, is in the area of creating graphic marketing elements; Like logos, name marks, style templates, etc.

Take a name mark for instance. When I first look at the name of a company/firm that has been stylized for effect (think Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, UPS) I always look for the rhythm and flow of the mark. Do the lines, colors, and white space work together? What feeling comes from the image? I would say that I see these types of “images” not as words and letters, but as pictures. My training, experience, and aptitude lead me in this way.

It would make sense that someone else with different training, experience, and aptitude would see these same things quite differently. Someone else might focus first on the words, names, letters…. And have no feeling for the flow of the shape.

In the legal and accounting world the partners that shape those firms are highly skilled at discerning words and letters. Their quest for excellence revolves around the technical ability to dissect literal meaning from words and numbers. The shape of these things are quite secondary.

This level of understanding the perceptual differences of people based on what they do in their work is important. Creating materials that have appeal to a specific target audience can pass or fail on these differences.

I’ve seen newsletters so poorly designed that I wanted to cry for the author and yet listened to others RAVE about how fantastic the information is that is written on the sheet. I’m busy thinking, “I can fix that”, while someone else might consider it as already perfected.

Lesson for self; if I show something to my attorneys and they don’t “get it” it is not necessarily a miss on my part, but a reflection of perception. And, if what I am showing to my attorneys is ultimately targeted at other attorneys, I will be taking their advise.
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