In the world of presentation visuals, I often have new students in university or clients in the business world who are very eager to come to me to show off their "visual masterpieces." These cluttered and distracting multimedia creations, filled with the superfluous and the nonessential, incorporating seemingly every special effect, color, and font the software had to offer, end up assaulting the brains of anyone who dares to look in the general direction of the screen. When they ask me what I think, I usually begin by asking them what there intention was. "What's your intent?" I ask them. The response is always the same: a blank stare followed by some "ums" and erms" and other disfluencies, and the realization that they "had not really thought about it in those terms." And this is the rub: Almost all ineffective design can be traced back to a failure right from the beginning to ask (and answer) the simple question: "What's my (our) intention?"
Today, I am happy to point you to a simple and evocative TED presentation by award-winning journalist John Hockenberry that touches on the issue of design and intent. John Hockenberry's message was clear, engaging, memorable, and inspiring. If this was his intent, then I must say his presentation was wonderfully designed indeed. Well done, Mr. Hockenberry. (View on ted.com.)