Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book review: Mike Parkinson, Do-it-Yourself Billion Dollar Business Graphics

3 Fast and Easy Steps to Turn Your Text and Ideas Into Graphics That Sell

Every once in a while you come across something that influences the way you work. Something that gives you not just the theory but provides you with the methods to do something in a better way. It's even rarer to find something that gives you the kind of visual ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Well, that's what Mike Parkinson has done here. You could say that being a book about graphics that the visual ideas of course should be there, but that's missing the point. Let me explain.

This book is not about pictures. It's about effective communication and how to increase the effectiveness of communication. Once you realise that, this book will influence and improve the way you produce your proposals.

I should point out as well, that this is not specifically a guide for professional graphic designers, though I think that there are many graphic designers out there who would benefit from reading it. It's for anyone who wants to improve written communications and that means everyone who writes proposals. Don't think that because "you do the words and the graphics guy does the graphics" that this isn't for you. It is.

The first section of the book is about the power of graphics and after fours years studying fine arts and over 20 years experience developing effective graphics Parkinson knows what he is saying. Reading this, you know that the book is based not just on experience and intuition, but solid research and empirical evidence.

Next, Parkinson explains the lifecycle of a graphic and how the two elements of a graphic, (surface or cognitive and subsurface or emotional)are connected. It's why a successful graphic works on multiple levels,communicating hard information, yet in a way we find appealing. So how do you know what is appealing and what information to communicate? We need to move from the abstract and into the practical and fortunately Parkinson has a method for us to follow. This is the key for how even the most visually illiterate wordsmith can think about creating high quality briefs for a graphic artist or select the most appropriate library graphics.

There are three steps to the method, each with their own process.

The first step, the P.A.Q.S. process is about ensuring that you have the information to do what is required:

    * Primary Objective: what's the required action after the graphic has been viewed?
    * Audience: who are they and what do they want?
    * Questions: What does the audience need to know from looking at this graphic?
    * Subject Matter: What you need to know to answer the questions!

There's more too it that that of course, which is why each part of the process is covered in detail with lots of examples.

Step two covers how to conceptualise graphics and Parkinson describes four different methods for conceptualising graphics. Never again will you be stuck for inspiration or wonder "I have no idea how to describe this". He also looks at some design techniques - how to present graphics well.

The third step is about rendering your graphics. There are more tips and rules and pages of every graphic type you can possibly imagine for you to learn from.

There's a fun little quiz at the end, plus a glossary and a link to a virtual CD of free examples of business graphics which makes this one of the most comprehensive resources of its type. It's also easy to understand and implement ideas that will improve your proposals.

All in all this book is excellent value and delivers more than expected. If you thought that graphics were a black art only accessible to artistic Photoshop gurus, then DIY Billion Dollar Business Graphics will open your eyes to a whole new world of effective communication.

Buy DIY Billion Dollar Business Graphics at Billion Dollar Graphics