Scientific design

wheildonIf there were just one book to read on layout and design, this would be it.

Wheildon’s research was commended and relied on by David Ogilvy, amongst others, and the book has a foreword by the great man.

A lot of Wheildon’s research has been passed on and, in versions I have read, suffered from embellishment. The book is the result of painstaking and properly conducted trials measuring, simply, the effect of different typefaces, colours, and layouts on audience comprehension. Not opinion, or even legibility, but comprehension.

It is a fascinating study but most importantly it lays out, accurately, for example:

the (surprisingly different) comprehension rates when the same text is set in a serif or sans serif typeface
the effect on comprehension rates of use of colour, and different colours, in layout and type
general styles of layout and their effects on comprehension
If you’re going to the trouble of writing, then wouldn’t it be useful to know how to increase (or not decrease) comprehension by figures as high as 60%? By simply selecting a suitable typeface?

The research is based on print material, and possibly the conclusions of the research leave some wiggle room for designers on digital platforms. But only possibly. And probably not much.

It’s on Amazon for a few quid – the full title “Type & Layout – are you communicating, or just making pretty shapes?”

More than worth the effort.