Visualization/Message Design Theory

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words


Visualization/Message Design Theory

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, visualization is:

1. Formation of mental visual images;
2. The act or process of interpreting in visual terms or putting into visual form.

Example of Application(s)

  • Show how to create a product using a diagram
  • Use pictures to illustrated a stated or written description
  • Line drawings to represent concepts

Forms of Visualization

• Graphics • Photos • Animation • Signs
• Line drawings • Paintings • Maps • Symbols
• Charts • Films • Video


• Decorative • Representtionl • Or-gan-i-
Why Use Visualization?

• Significant increases in learning occur when using visual and verbal multimodal learning (Metiri Group, 2008)
• Recall, speed of learning, understanding and retention improve (Biech, 2005)
• Can make the abstract concrete

When not to use visualization

• It will overload learners cognitively
• The visual material is redundant
• Visuals incongruent with other learning modes
• Learners don’t have the prerequisite visual literacy


Biech, E. (2005). Training for Dummies, Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Metiri Group – commissioned by Cisco Systems, Inc. (2008). Multimodal Learning Through Media: What the Research Says.

Created by: Mary Christen Czech