Exercise 3; Orientation Sensitivity, Proximity & Layering

January 28, 2011

Group Hearing

Proximity; The principle of proximity is one of several principles referred to as Gestalt principles of perception. Items of similar size, shape and color tend to be grouped together by the brain, and the relationship between the items is formed. Items in close proximity to or aligned with one another tend to be grouped in a similar way. For instance, notice how much easier it is to group and define the shape of the objects in the upper left than the lower right.

Layering; is one method in which designers organize information to make it easier for the reader to use. There are two main types of layering which are 2D Layering and 3D Layering.

2D Layering involves seperating the information so only one layer shows at a time. 2D Layering is sepreated into two varieties; Linear layers which can be used when there is a clear begining middle and end and Non-Linear layers. Non Linear layers include things such as; Paralle (Thesauras), Web (Hypertext) and Heirarchical (Organizing Chart).

3D Layering separates the layers so multiple layers can be viewed at one time. This is divided into Opaque Layers where all content is shown at once (Pop Up Windows) and Transparent Layers where information is overlayed to show different concepts (Roll Over Weather Maps).

Orientation Sensitivity is a visual phenomenon in which people process the orientation (direction) of lines at different speeds according to different factors. There are two major phenomena that contribute to this; oblique effect and pop out effect.

Oblique effect occurs because people can recognize horizontal and vertiacal lines quicker than oblique (random) lines. This is due to there being more stimuli that respond to vertical and horizontal lines than oblique lines.

Pop out effect is when certain elements are so different from the background it requires more stimuli to analyze the picture. As a general rule it is easiest to differentiate between lines when the angle changes by 30 degrees or more. This is most effective when combined with the oblique effect

Exercise Three: Laws of Signal-to-Noise Ratio and Uniform Connectedness

January 28, 2011

By group Smell: Caroline, Alex, Phoebe and Andrew


Signal-to-Noise ratio is basically the ratio of what’s useful versus what’s useless. When you see something, your brain has to deal with what it’s seeing, and is always sorting out what’s important and what isn’t. The more information it gets, the more it has to sift through. In order to give a clear signal, you have to make sure that you don’t cloud up the message with useless or redundant messages or images.

You want to keep your approach to the design as simplified as possible, so that whatever message you’re trying to get across is clearly stated. Apple is known for their exceptionally simple approach to advertising. And by gum it works too.


It’s usually a good idea to group similar things together, and that’s basically what uniform connectedness is. Applying uniform connectedness can be very helpful with making things like complicated cable TV remotes easier to understand. On a keyboard, all the letter keys are in one box, the number keys are in another, the various function keys are all arranged in their own little groups, everything is nice and easy to understand (sort of…) But it doesn’t have to be so simple as drawing a box around all the arrow keys. Grocery stores are laid out with this sort of thing in mind.

If you needed supplies for baking some cookies, it would be an awful chore if you had to trek all over the store to get all the different ingredients. Keeping all the related items together makes it easier to find things, and can make your trip to the supermarket quick and easy if you’re in a hurry. Really, it’s just good organizing sense. Got it? Good.

Image sources:



Excercise three: Law of Pragnanz and Interference Effects

January 27, 2011

by group taste: Marco, Cindy, Brian, Joanna, Cornelia

The law of Pragnanz

The Law of Pragnanz (or Gestalt’s principle of perception) suggests that, when given ambiguous visuals, humans tend to complete and interpret the image beyond what is apparent. It also states that humans simplify visuals in order to remember them; a useful tip for artists, as this means viewers are more likely to recognize less intricate designs.

There are many examples of the Law of Pragnanz, including any food in existence that has Christ’s face miraculously burnt onto it.




Intereference effect

Interference effects occur when the thoughts that are being processed simultaneously conflict with each other. Because our minds interpret and process information independently, when the productions of our interpretations are congruent, the process of interpretation will go smoothly. On the other hand, when the production is contrasting, interferences will occur and more time for processing is needed, therefore leads to a negative impact on performance. Interferences occur when aspects of stimulus contradict within itself, or learning contradicts memories.
To prevent interferences, avoid designs that will create mental conflicts visually and interactively.

This is an example of Stroop interference. The time it takes to say the colour of the words is longer than to say the words themselves.




Figure-Ground Relationship, Good Continuation, and Highlighting

January 27, 2011

By Group Touch: Sharon, Hilda, Kenny, Prisilla, and Amir

Figure-Ground Relationship

The figure-ground relationship is one of several Gestalt principles of perception. Human perception separates stimuli into either figures (objects of focus) or ground (the rest of the perceptual field, an undifferentiated background). This principle is applicable across different media such as photographs and auditory stimuli.

A stable figure-ground relationship, with clear perception of the figure and ground, is more attractive, memorable and reduces perceptual confusion. An unstable relationship with ambiguous figure and ground can result in different interpretations of elements.

The optical illusion relies on unstable figure-ground relationship, causing the viewer to perceive both a man playing the saxophone and a woman’s face.

With the logo, figure-ground relationship changes as the eye perceives the window shade and the silhouette of a face.


Good Continuation

This is another one of Gestalt’s principles of perceptions. Aligned elements (such as in a line or curve) tend to be perceived as a single group and being more related than unaligned elements. When sections of a line or shape are hidden from view, good continuation leads the eye to continue along the visible segments. Elements can still be perceived as a group with minimal disruption of the line or shape.

Another optical illusion: Human perception assumes the two sticks continue in an established direction (i.e. forming an X and intersecting each other), due to the habit of applying the principle continuation on objects we view.



Highlighting is a technique used to bring attention to an area of text or image. It is recommended that no more than 10% of a design is to be highlighted, otherwise reducing the effectiveness of highlighting certain elements. Consider also how much disruption a highlighting technique can add to the overall design. Too much noise can compromise the legibility of the text or graphic. There are many methods of highlighting text, including the use of different font weights/typefaces and colour.

(Click to enlarge)

The use of highlighting in this infographic conveys the most important points to its viewers. Keywords are bolded in the text and a website link is coloured in blue. Graphical elements are visually highlighted with contrasting colours (#5 in particular uses bright colours against grey tones).



Universal Principles of Design, William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler.

Exercise Three: Alignment, Closure, Common Fate

January 21, 2011

Exercise Three: Strategies for Conveying Information

January 21, 2011


Your Project One group has been assigned two or three examples of strategies derived from the Gestalt Laws of Pattern Perception that can be employed to convey information. The strategy assignments are as follows:

  • Group Sight: Alignment, Closure, Common Fate
  • Group Touch: Figure Group Relationship, Good Continuation, Highlighting
  • Group Taste: Interference Effects, Law of Pragnanz
  • Group Hearing: Layering, Orientation Sensitivity, Proximity
  • Group Smell: Signal-to-Noise Ratio, Uniform Connectedness

In your Project One groups, create a blog post that summarizes your assigned strategies for the class. Click here to download the relevant pages from Universal Principles of Design. For each strategy, include at least one illustration that is not found in Universal Principles of Design. Be prepared to briefly present your post next week.

Exercise Three is due at 15:30 on Friday, January 28.