Visual Design for Instructional Multimedia

Some time ago, before Paris Hilton and Flip cameras, Earl Misanchuk, Elizabeth Boling and I wrote a book on visual design. Our idea was to pull together a dynamically illustrated book that was built on solid research or at least solid practice — a response to what we found to be a lot of bad advice on visual design elsewhere.

At the time (2000), we distributed it on CD because it included a lot of video, and the Web just wasn’t all that reliable for that kind of material yet. At least, a lot of people we wanted to reach didn’t have the infrastructure to use it that way. But we were semi-smart; we built it in html, so we could eventually move it online. But the metaphor we wanted to use was a book, not a website, so we deliberately kept the look and feel of a textbook from the very beginning. We moved it to a server at Indiana University in 2002, but not without breaking a bunch of links, most notably to all of the QuickTime video. None of us seemed to have the heart or the time or the money to hire someone to go in and do the repair work. So there it sat, kind of useful, but kind of broken, for a long time.

Well we recently repaired it and mounted it on our Xserve at the University of Saskatchewan, which also seemed to have a healing effect on a lot of the things that were formerly broken.

So, I’m pleased to point you in its direction. The visual design principles are classic, so the content is largely still current. In fact, some of it isn’t readily available anywhere else, and I still don’t know of a great replacement for it. Some of the examples are a little like looking at old prom photos, however, and the references to software are hopelessly outdated (who still has a copy of Adobe Premier 4.0 around?). In addition, it was built for smaller screens, but that had the nice effect of building small chunks of information on pages. At any rate, help yourselves to a heaping helping of visual design principles at


6 thoughts on “Visual Design for Instructional Multimedia

  1. Hah!! Thanks for this post, Rick! I just happen to be using VDIM in my graduate course this semester! This update is great!

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