Infographics smoothing and shadows : background or ressources ?

i’d like to know if there are resources or background knowledge on the new tendency to smooth the lines/outlines and add gradients and shadows to information graphics. For example, on the new version of Microsoft Office for OSX, the default graphs show smooth lines, shadows and gradients everywhere (a pain to manage in illustrator, but otherwise attractive).

Those graphics are no more graphically simple (few colors, sharp contrasts), but perhaps visually simple (visual perception) ?

There’s some connection with cognitive studies of visual perception, but i’d like to know if some graphical design experience, empirism, books or web resources are talking about this, thanks 🙂

—- edit

My question is about documentation and resources supporting this tendancy. Explanation and support of this change of style, if you want to use this point of view.

I’m trying to explain the reasons of this change, and looking for scientific or empiristic answers. For example, are those graphics more readable ? More aesthetic ? Or simply there because it’s now possible to add those fancy gradients, shadows and smooth outlines (with software and hardware progress) ?


As for the exact combination of dropshadows, gradients, colors, and the like, it’s like @DA01 said in his comment: that’s as much about style trends as anything or an attempt to maintain branding or a templated design within a given publication.

The style of an infographic depends entirely on your target audience.

Developers of presentation and spreadsheet software add design elements by default to bring a bit of visual flair to their software, to appeal to their users—”Look at the beautiful graphics you can make at the press of a button!” It is possible, in most cases, to turn these unnecessary elements off.

But knowing from experience, the infographics that are used in professional texts (e.g., post-graduate, scientific, statistical, medical) typically don’t have any extra visual elements except those for the express purpose of delivering data to the reader. Oftentimes, when we receive these types of graphics for the books my company publishes, they have been screengrabbed from Excel. We redraw them to clean them up (and if we can get the Excel spreadsheet that contains the data used to generate the graph, then all the better) to remove any excess.

In addition to the professional texts noted above, my company also publishes books intended for those that are trying to learn a trade skill or just meeting a degree requirement. Infographics that are used in lower-level texts (undergraduate, 101-level courses) are typically created with stylistic elements in an effort to hold the readers’ interest, to make it more visually appealing.

There are whole courses and degrees given for data visualization and instructional design, and the publishing industry is always hungry for candidates with that type of knowledge.

Source : Link , Question Author : Laurent Jégou , Answer Author : Philip Regan

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