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Visual Communication Methods


Paris Map: Study the Hierarchy, Color, Shape, and dimension of time.

What Is Wrong With this Map

1. The color in this map vibrates at a higher frequency than the map of Siena, therefore making it difficult to read. The light orange is used for unimportant information and the darker orange is used to highlight information. It would be better if the unimportant information receded and the path was more obviously highlighted. The number dots in the same shade as the walking path are hardly visible. (hierarchy & color)

2. The text on the roads is too loud in all caps and in the san serif font. The street names need to be a little smaller and in a Serif font such as Times New Roman to make the printed map easier to read. (shape)


Font Explanation

Fonts can be subdivided in two general visual categories: "Serif" and "Sans-serif".

Serif fonts have curls, small appendixes at the end of each letter. From the online dictionary of Merriam-Webster's "any of the short lines stemming from and at an angle to the upper and lower ends of the strokes of a letter". These appendixes have the purpose of helping the reader's eye connect all the sequence of letters. (Such as in the naming of the purple buildings above).

This is Serif.

Serif fonts are mostly used in newspapers and books when text is small and tight. Serif fonts include: Times, Palatino, Garamond, Century Schoolbook, Book Antiqua, and all other fonts characterized by tiny appendixes at the end of their forms.

Sans-serif fonts (from the French word "sans" that means without) are all those fonts which have letters with straight lines and no curls or appendixes. Their letterform is neat, defined, clean. They are mostly used for titles, captions, callouts, and in general any time there is not too much text and readability is an issue. Sans-serif fonts are reserved for Screen while Serif is reserved for Print.

This is Sans-serif.

Sans-serif fonts include: Arial, Helvetica, Futura, Tahoma, Avant-Garde, Univers, Century Gothic, Verdana, and all other fonts characterized by clean letterforms.


3. The numbers along the walking path and the buildings they correspond to are not clear because color has not been used to unify the layout. The buildings and number circles should be the same color. (color & balance).

4. Unimportant information is shown on the map, making the map cluttered and potentially confusing.

Below, I have simplified the above map by toning down the background and changing the intensity of the colors using Adobe® Photoshop.


Source: Morris, Elizabeth. Passport's Illustrated Travel Guide to Paris. Chicago: Passport Books, 1997.


This material © UIC Board of Trustees, College of Urban Planning & Public Affairs, GCUDV.