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Storytelling in Design by Anna Dahlström

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Chapter 6 - The visual impact

Intro: A sea of grey boxes and lines

In the early days of personal computing and interface design, everything was varyings shades of grey, black and white. From icons to program interfaces and the text we saw and wrote in these. Don Norman tells the tale of when colour monitors were first introduced in the early 1980s and how despite that the interface community couldn’t find any scientific benefit, companies insisted on buying colour monitors. For research purposes he borrowed one and after using it he was still convinced that "color added no discernible value for everyday work”, but he still didn’t want to give it up. His conclusion was that "Although my reasoning told me that color was unimportant, my emotional reaction told me otherwise."91 Today we know that colour does have an impact on us and various studies in colour theory show that certain colours communicate certain things, but that this also differs based on cultural factors and where we live in the world. 

We’re all familiar with the saying that a picture is worth more than a thousand words. Imagery helps with understanding and putting things into context. It’s why we in the early days used the floppy disc icon to reflect ‘save’, a magnifying glass for ‘search’ and why we still to this day use a trash can as an icon for moving items to trash on our computers and other devices. It’s also what gave rise to skeuomorphic design.

In the beginning, skeuomorphic design worked as a metaphor ...

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