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Visual Language for Designers by Connie Malamed

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PRINCIPLE 5CLARIFY COMPLEXITY

“Complexity isn’t what it used to be. It’s more—and different.”

YVONNE HANSEN, Information Design

Visual complexity is a paradox. On the one hand, complexity is a compelling feature known to capture a viewer’s attention and stimulate interest. Rather than looking at an entire picture, viewers tend to look at the informative portions, particularly those with intricate detail, patterns, and occlusions. On the other hand, complexity only arouses curiosity up to a point. When a visual is extremely complex, viewers may tend to avoid it altogether.1

Although complexity has always surrounded us, the visual depiction of complex objects, systems, and concepts has become increasingly prevalent. Complex subjects are depicted ...

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