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GRAPHIC DESIGN
IN THE AGE OF
INTERACTIVE MEDIA
Prof. Martin Sperka
Faculty of Informatics and Information Technology,
Slovak University of Technology, Slovakia
martin.sperka@fiit.stuba.sk
Anton Stolar
Matej Bell University,
Faculty of Humanities,
Department of Fine Arts, Slovakia
stolar@fhv.umb.sk
Introduction:
Traditional graphic design forms could (and even
should) be practised by individuals depending on
their relative skill, expertise and inclination. Recent
development of traditional design as well as new
media has expanded to new divisions,
unprecedented collaborations and specializations in
news intermediate fields. Currently a graphic
designer connects various media into one multimedia
form. Design and related disciplines as architecture,
environmental design, programming production and
other technical support staff are moving and
changing their meaning.
The goal of the paper is to explain, compare and
show new design terms within their appropriate
contexts, and to clarify the relationship among them
on the background of the traditional significance. The
paper aims at the analysis of contexts and
consequences, anticipation of the design process,
human computer interface in digital environment, and
understanding a designer´s role in the future.
We suppose that physical interface between users
and artificial systems (computers) will fade and move
to the mental interface according to the advances in
technology. The changes will determine the manner
of sharing information in mouldable advanced New
media environment according to user needs trough
Metadesign /bottom-up/ together with the User
Centred Design /top-down/ to achieve common
goals.
1 Traditional media
The media before computer era /b.c./ are called
traditional media – paper based, film, television,
radio. We will concentrate op paper base dand sceen
type media. The most important and the most
frequented term in this era has been the graphic
design, which was credited to W. A. Dwinggins, a
letterer, calligrapher and type, book and advertising
designer as well as novelist, playwright an marionette
impresa-rio, who in 1922 proposed the term as
definition of his own multifaceted professional activity [1].
The original term was certainly broad enough term to
include layout or board person, type-setter, airbrush
artist, books illustrator. During the 1930s, graphic
designers who were also involved in package and
product design, as well as those who occupied in
industrial design called themselves ’designer for
industry’ [1]. The machine age led them to bring a
new form of cross-disciplinary field, where the visual
style and industrial production had to correspond
(corporate identity). Independent design company
took responsibility for the conception and production
of complete projects rather than specialized aspects
of the whole. In the post war period, as dedicated
design departments and so-called design
laboratories developed within progressive
corporations, cross-disciplinary programs grew in
popularity as well as necessity. The graphic
designers had to know how their work fit into the
larger context. Originally stand alone disciplines were
integrated into overall practices and designers had to
be fluent in much more than their own specialties.
Starting in the 1950s, in an effort to expand graphic
design in the international business world, designers
referred to themselves with more inclusive
designations ‘visual communicator, visual designer,
graphic communicator, communications specialist
etc.’ [1]. Yet even in 1990s, graphic disciplines were
more complex and seem to be identified but a lot of
changes in graphic design and visual communication
(terms that are used interchangeably) again initiated
questions about their meaning.
1.1 Graphic design
The Oxford English dictionary contains 24 definitions
of the word design. The most relevant are the
phrases ‘to form a plan... to purpose or intend (a
thing) to be or do (something)...’[10]. Design is of
course a word with multiple meanings, but some
typical connotations in more established design
disciplines and in design theory include the parallel
emergence of question and answer, the activity of
exploring possible futures, the synthesis of reason
and emotion, the intervention on many simultaneous
levels in a design situation.
Webster defines the graphic design ’…as the art or
profession of using design elements (as typography
and images) to convey information or create an
effect; also a product of this art’ [8]. The primary
definition is simple about communicating to other
human beings through word and images. Generally,
graphic design is the applied art of arranging image
and text to communicate a message.
The design process as a whole begins with the first
ideas about a project and does not end until the print
piece is produced. The designer develops ideas
inside the context of the objectives and user needs.
The design process can be divided into a few relative
self-employed phases illustrated in Figure 1. Each
step in each phase is affected by another and they
must occur before the next step can begin. All of the
steps in the process will occur whether it is by default
or with purpose. Even though we don’t know a full
definition of the term graphic design, we can
understand it trough its function and creation of the
paper media.
The graphic design effect in traditional media can be
divided according to paper media as an interface
between information and user of editorial, book,
typography, advertising, corporate or environment
design, illustrated in Figure 1. Now in age of
expanded media, it is not a sufficient way to define
the widening range of the graphic design opportunity.
Figure 1: Process of creation the paper mediaaccording to key phases.
1.2 Layout
Traditional graphic design directed the viewer’s
attention through the layout. Layout is the
arrangement, or composition, of elements in two-
dimensional space. The OED explains that layout is
the act or process of planning or laying out in detail.
Word lay out as verb is synonyms to such verbs as
design, arrange, map (out), plan, set out [8].
Designers often use a grid system to help with
organization of visual elements. Invisible linear
extensions (subjective lines) are such a strong device
for relating compositional areas that designers also
use them in the form of grid system for the layout and
organization of blocks of type, logos, and graphic
information [16].
Before the layout can begin, design decisions must
be made about what elements will be included. The
final design becomes the model on which layout
decisions are based, and the objectives established
at the beginning of a project become the objectives
form the layout as well as the design. The system can
be applied to one image or made to relate a
completely corporate campaign. The modern layout
has involved from symmetrical page by experimented
and implicated visual perception principles.
Differences between traditional page and modern
page are linearity or the sequential organization of
information from ‘top to bottom’ [1] on the page.
Linearity is based on scroll analogy in which
information is perceived as a continuous, sequential
flow. Modern layout disturbes linearity by the splitting
the text into several part – the introduction is on the
first page (finished by the link to the next part) and the
rest continues on other pages. Introductory parts of
diferent topics had also different visual styles.
Howver this strategy, used in the newspapers is
sometimes disturbing, especially when reading large
newspapers in the bus, train or airplane causes
difficulties in turning the pages of the newspaper forth
and back. Reading similar text layout on the
computer monitor is much easier and requires just
simple pointing and clicking.
Layout is important issue in the urban and
architectural design, where functional and easthetical
criteria are merged together as well as in the design
of microelectronics chips (functional criteria only). In
the layout of Very Large Scale Integrated electronics
circuits exist many formal design theories, which
enable to automate this activity. The same can be
said about architecture (buildings, urban complexes),
Figure 2: Some graphic design disciplines inthe traditional media.
Book design
Typography
Advertising
Corporate design
Environment design
Editoral design
but where functional criteria are blurred by the social
and aesthetic issues and where formal and
mathematically exact methods are not very used.
There exist some attempts to automate layout in the
Web design as for example [17]. In more general
sense, layout of graphic document is a parallel to the
spacial composition of the photography image. Both
are static. Time and space composition is typical for
animated cartoons or film (video). Dominantly time
based composition is typical for the written or spoken
text and music. However written text can be
composed also spacially having additional visually
aesthetic meaning. (Calligraphy). The same is valid
about the music notation, which can be exploited as
a visual artefact. All these media use basic elements
(lexical or syntactic units) which are composed
(according to some exact or intuitive) syntactic rules
(the grammar of written text, design rules in 2D
layout).
2 New media
The media post computer era (p.c.) are called New
media. The term New media has been used since the
1970s by researchers leading social, psychological,
economic, political, and cultural studies of
information and communication technologies [1].
Webster defines New media as ‘…integration of
computers, computer networking, and multimedia.’
Many definitions of New media or new
communication technology are simply lists of
particular technologies or systems or their features.
Many focus on computing technology (or the
convergence of computing and telecommunications)
and the sense of interactivity that New media give
users. New time based media are often contrasted
with the, one-way information flows of traditional
mass media. The term New media on design field
represents Web site and CD/DVD-ROM interface
design. Creating paper and screen based content is
now almost exclusively on digital platforms – online,
offline - both broadband and narrow band, interactive
television, SMS, MMS, DVD, CD Rom, PC based or
console specific such as Sony PlayStation, Nintendo
Game Cube and Microsoft Xbox. Therefore we will
use also alternative term Digital media.
Generally, researchers concerned with technological,
economic or behavioural issues have tended to
define New media in terms of system features and
services, industry structures or the psychology of
media users [2]. The only difference between current
and past practice is the type of work available. When
the internet was first invented, Web design consisted
of a very basic markup language that included some
formatting options, and the unique ability to link
pages together using hyperlinks. The Web in these
days is a global hypermedia system but the
development of increasingly sophisticated
technologies has fostered its use also a remote
software interface [5]. According to Garret ‘this dual
nature has led to much confusion, as user
experience practitioners have attempted to adapt
their terminology to cases outside the range of its
original application’.
Figures 3, 4 show more frequent disciplines that
currently fall under the graphic design or are areas
where graphic designer is currently finding work as a
collaborator in broader design activities. Among them
are Web design and CD/DVD-ROM design, which
has become an entry point for a wide range of artist
and designers illustrated in Figure 3.
2.1 Information architecture
The phrase "information architecture" was used in
the 1960s, by R. S. Wurman, a man trained as an
architect but who has become also a skilled graphic
designer and the author, editor, and/or publisher of
numerous books that employ fine graphics in the
presentation of information in a variety of fields. In his
career as an architect, became interested in matters
concerning the ways in which buildings, transport
utilities, and people worked and interacted with each
other in urban environments [14].
Information architecture in this time refers to the
ways in which information is arranged on a Web site.
A simple method of information architecture is to
draw a site map. A site map is a graphic view of the
Web site how the information in the web site is
structured, and how you get to it. Each box on the site
map will eventually become a page of the site. As
Wands [3] explains: ‘If there are multiple ways to get
a box, there need be multiple navigational tools to get
there’.
The role of the architect is to work with the data
structure of the Web site. Information architects are
responsible for determining how the Web site will
work, what data formats are needed, determine what
content and functionality the site will contain, how the
information is grouped, what expectations of the
users will be satisfied, specifies how users will find
information in the site by defining its organization,
navigation, labelling, and searching systems, what
type of programming and software are appropriate.
2.2 Information Design
Also Known as Communication Design or Graphic
Communication Information design, at its most
rudimentary employs type and graphics to clarify and
concretise mostly no visual information, such as facts
and figures. Disciplines like Scientific illustration and
recently Scientific (computer) visualization have the
same goal to visualize what is invisible.This is not an
entirely new form. Some kinds of images have been
used throughout the century in public documents,
from scientific reports to high-school textbooks. Over
sixty years ago, it was improved by German designer
and social scientist O. Neurath [1]. The images were
in stages transformed to universal graphic symbols
that were used in charts, maps and graphs to
represent specific ideas. These images involved to
‘pictorial sign symbols’ and structured to lexicons of
icons used to clarify all kinds of data what are known
in these days [1].
Pictorial signs and symbols are used in traditional
graphic design disciplines as well as navigational
buttons on computer screens of software products,
Web sites and CD/DVD-ROMs. The sign symbols or
icons are only one small part of information design.
According to Heller [1] information design ‘is
concerned with transforming data into information,
making the complex easier to understand and to
use’. Information design is a rapidly growing
discipline that draws on typography, graphic design,
applied linguistics, applied psychology, applied
ergonomics, computing, and other fields. It emerged
as an answer to people's need to understand and use
such things as forms, legal documents, computer
interfaces and technical information.
Figure 3 shows a process of creation of the New media
according to key phases.
Figure 4 depicts some new graphic disciplines to create
the interactive media.
Information design does not replace graphic design
and other visual disciplines, but is the structure
through which these capabilities are expressed [4].
The role of the information designer is to guide users
away from confusion into understanding of subjects.
Information designers consider the selection,
structuring and presentation of the information
provider's message in relation to the purposes, skills,
experience, preferences and conditions of the
intended users. To do this they need specialist
knowledge and skills in graphic communication and
typography, the psychology of reading and learning,
human-computer interaction, usability research and
clear writing, plus an understanding of the potential
and limitations of different media.
2.3 Navigation and interface design
The relationship between user and digital
environment has been solved by Human Computer
Interaction HCI, in this time traditional discipline yet.
HCI has introduced a new concept to share
information as User Centered Design (UCD)
illustrated in Figure 3.
Garret [5] says interface design by HCI concept is
‘design of interface elements to facilitate user
interaction with functionality and content
requirements’ that supports data transfer to a flat
panel display in digital format. Jeeves [11] defines
HCI as ‘a discipline concerned with the design,
evaluation and implementation of interactive
computing systems for human use and with the study
of major phenomena surrounding them.
Figure 2 illustrates dual nature of the recent New
media. While the task centred design is able to the
interactivity like concept action – data when a user at
first selects action (from menu bar alternatively by
typing ) after that inputs data, in the object orientation
interface is able to use a new concept object – action
when a user at first selects object (often as GUI5)
and afterward chooses action. For the concept object
action has been established term navigation
design. Garret [5] says that navigation design is
‘design of interface elements to facilitate the user's
movement through the information architecture’.
Navigation is a way to pass from one page to another
page into a home site or to other sites trough
hyperlinks.The navigation elements are not only
elements of navigation item of menu bar, controlling
panels or windows, but also each hyper media
reference.
To facilitate the correct interface design and
navigation in the information space, many formal
methods of modeling it appeared in last years.
Information space can be represented as a finite
state machine deterministic automaton. Visual
depiction of how the user will move and navigate
trough this space of interactive application is in form
of navigation flow chart, which is non-linear series of
boxes connected by lines that show the paths of
information flow. There is generally a main screen or
menu, which is usually where the users start. There
are keywords or graphic icons and symbols on the
main page that take the user to other areas of the
application.
2.4 Interaction design
Interaction Design is a field and approach to
designing interactive experiences. Interactive
experiences, necessarily, require time as an
organizing principle and interactive design is
concerned with a user, customer, audience, or
participant's experience flow through time.
Interactivity should not be confused with animation in
which objects may move on a screen. Interactivity is
concerned with being part of the action of a system or
performance and not merely watching the action
passively. Interaction design describes the set of
skills that are needed to design the forms through
which we can effectively use information technology
[13]. According to Gerret [5] the interaction design is
‘…development of application flows to facilitate user
tasks defining how the user interacts with site
functionality…’ and content requirements.
Interaction design is involving term which reflected
technical and technological possibility therefore most
designations on the design field not commonly
agreed with original explication of interaction design
as simple character user interface (DOS, UNIX) or
graphical user interface GUI. The most used GUIs
represent a desktop metaphore (Xerox idea,
commercially introduced by Apple and mass
application by Microsoft Windows). Other
metaphores of user interfaces appeared. These
simulate natural communication in a specific
appllications (for example simulators and games) by
exploiting multimedia, virtual reality and augmented
reality. Scientists, engineers as well as artists and
designers work on the interfaces which could involve
more human senses.
3 Advanced New media
Advanced New media as new kinds of methods and
techniques allow sharing information to advanced
manners. This environment supported by artificial
intelligence requires a new kind of expert of graphic
design. Advanced New media change the structure
and contents of our interests, the nature of our
cognitive and collaborative tools, the social
environment in which thoughts invent and develop,
and mindsets. Fischer [4] reports that advanced New
media increases the potential issues and research
problems for new design methodologies, cognition
and motivation the design of New media and new
technologies. The changed conditions require a new
view to design in future digital environment. Figure 3
illustrates effective solution trough intelligent
interactive environment that include the most
sophisticated methods of treating and structuring
information by top-down way, jointly in conjunction a
new form of self-organization design that Fischer [4]
labelled the ’metadesign’ and we denote as bottom-up
w a y .
3.1 Metadesign
In philosophy or human sciences, meta means, what
goes beyond or what is more comprehensive or
fundamental. In computer science metadata is data
that describes other data (data about data) [8]. One
could describe any computer programming as a
meta-language for interacting with a computer. Meta
in consequence technology delivers not only content
but also through its codes and structures, a specific
meaning. This specific meaning is described by ‘the
meta information defining a relation between
technology, structure, sign and content’ [12].
Extended Markup Language (XML) and other tools
for creating metainformation are examples of simple
online applications (one step towards the semantic
Web) and faciliate data mining and other more
effective searching of information in the complex
structures.
Enforcement of the Metadesign is not simple. It
requires a new way of thinking, active contributors
and not just passive consumers. The bottom-up
relationship between consumer-designer is
supposed to change from passive consumer trough
active consumer, end-user, user, power users, local
developers, domain designer to ‘meta-designer’ [4].
On the other side the develop design top-down will
have to satisfy users needs with sophisticated User
Centred Design.
3.2 User Centred Design
User Centred Design (UCD) is a comprehensive
product development methodology. It starts by
clearly specifying the site objectives, and the user's
needs, limitations and preferences. The HCD
analysis is applied to the design of the product, and
the testing of the product. A UCD approach meets
both user's need and the business objectives. As
Nomesa [15] has shown ‘UCD is circular process and
contains stages like requirements gathering &
analysis, content design & structure ,
implementation, QA testing, deploy-ment,
measurement and analysis’. UCD works with user at
every stage of the process to ensure that the solution
generated has the highest levels of usability and
accessibility. The end result is a solution that has
been adjusted to the requests of the user. The UCD
process is continuous and the only way to ensure
that the experience generated by the product
remains effective requires that it must be measured.
Current trend in intelligent communication system is
characterized by ‘multiple communication modalities,
distribution of information and control, and flexible
adaptation to the user’ [14]. Distributed multimedia
and global information network such as Internet are
the key enabling technologies for such a system.
Intelligent agent technology is a new approach to the
intelligent system development which harmoniously
works with distributed multimedia and Internet
technologies. It also allows the developer to create
intelligent system with greater adaptability to the
user. Wyllys [14] explains that the most successful
examples of intelligent agent understand user's
language, infer user's real goals, derive plans to
satisfy user's goals, and carry out the plans. Such
agents also utilize various ‘multimedia resources and
other agents on the network, in order to communicate
to the user in the most effective way’ [14].
4. The designer in advanced New media
A few years ago, the technology did not allow for
sophisticated design nuances. Today it seems that
graphic design was never easy. The designer in
these days is solely an architect, leaving the
mechanical aspects of Web page CD/DVD-ROM
construction to programming and production experts.
Problems that were serious five years ago have been
easily solved in the repertoire of contemporary
graphic design.
In the try to redefine graphic design in the 1990s, the
Web has involved traditional graphic applications,
such as type and page layout, wed to non-traditional
graphic design such as sound and motion [1]. The
role of designer has involved to two ways. Some New
media designers come directly from traditional
media, while others bypass traditional entirely. While
designer in traditional media should understand
prepress and printing limitations (can actually make
without contact to press room), the Web and
Figure 5 outlined the model of interaction process in advanced new media according to two collaboration bottom-up
and top-down ways.
CD/DVD designer must work directly with the
technology to achieve results. Different designers
use different methods - combining market research,
user testing, prototyping and trend analysis. A
graphically designed object can be expressive or
neutral, hard sell or soft sell, classical or radical.
Graphic design may be utilitarian, but it is not void of
the creative essence too. Some designers may have
personal styles, but none can be islands without
bridges to clients, production personnel or other
designers. Although good instinct is part of the
designer's arsenal, there are more scientific ways to
make appropriate design. The level of complexity or
simplicity is determined either by the nature of the
message or the preference of the designer.
A good graphic designer is able to adapt existing
historical or contemporary models and derive unique
approaches. The future of graphic design rests in its
ability to be absorbed into different sectors of human
activity from art and sciences to entertainment. The
volume of cross-disciplinary activities that affect
designers today is going to grow in the future and
“graphic design” will become a much more massive
discipline that will include the ability to write, to
design, to communicate, and to edit. To develop a
useful theory of decision information processing,
designer needs to further understand the process by
which humans make decisions, how information
affects this process, and how to construct effective
interface technologies to enlarge user performance.
Designer will become less specialized and more
oriented to cognitive science especially cognitive
psychology, philosophy and culture to create an
appropriate structure of sharing information. This
comes by patient study of user’s knowledge
representation and enthusiastic practice.
For a long time, designers have dealt with uncertainly
defined problems, which caused them to develop a
variety of skills and methods necessary to generate
creative solutions. On the other hand, certain thought
in the fields of human-factors have dealt with well-
defined problems that generate specific knowledge.
A broader approach, combining these two ways of
thought, is necessary to deal with the complexity of
interaction in the future.
Conclusion
This paper has provided a brief history and overview
of some terms of the major themes and influences
that have shaped the original field of graphic design.
Current graphic design in advanced New media is
not only defined as visual problem. The field of
graphic design diffuses into experience design,
interaction design and sensorial design near (include
design all sense) to cognitive science. The original
voluntary design has become component part the
sophisticated UCD that facilitated and activated the
individual users to enter into digital environment. This
paper is not intended to provide either a complete
history of the past or a full scale future trends. It is
rather to give a context for the recommendations
which will follow. It examines some of the options that
graphic designers are offered today and analyses the
widening expectations of users in relation to
technological shifts that have allowed the graphic
designer to branch away from traditional toward
advanced New media. Understanding what design is
and how it works in both philosophical and practical
context will be more important than decorating digital
artefacts with the goal to give a form to the content.
Acknowledgement
This project was partially supported by grant
VG1/0161/03 (Information processing in the
distributed environment of intelligent agents).
References
[1] Heller, S. and Fernandes, T., (1999) Becoming
graphics designer, New York: John Wiley and sons,
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[2] New media http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/llievrou/
HNMwhatis.html (2003)
[3] Wands, B., (2002) Digital creativity New York:
John Wiley and sons, Inc.
[4] Fischer, University of Colorado, Meta design
http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~l3d/ (2003)
[5] Garrett, The Elements of User Experience,
http://www.jjg.net/ia/, (2000)
[6] http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/
articles/newmedia/
[8] http://www. Webster.com
[9] http://www.wordiq.com/definition/CD-ROM
[10 Oxford University Press, Oxford English
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[11] Ask Jeeves, Inc. http://www.ask.com (2004)
[12] l'ARCA, http://www.lab-au.com (2003)
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http://www.ischool.utexas.edu (Jan, 2003)
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Conference Paper
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The contemporary communicative policy of exhibitions lays emphasis on the transition of the visitor from a passive receiver of messages to an active vehicle of knowledge and experiences. Multimedia applications afford places invested with synaesthetic and representational potentials that evoke intellectual and emotional involvement. In this way, the content is shown in an environment with narrative structure. The regulation of the flow of the experience provides interactive facilities that surpass the limits of the physical world. The digital interactive creation “Discourse and Space” was initially conceived and developed within the framework of the Postgraduate Program in Cultural Technology and Communication of the University of the Aegean. It concerns a virtual space with temperamental narrative structure and activity; a contemporary attempt aiming at the exchange of visual perceptions among the participants on the occasion of the play “Tongues” by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin.
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