Intro • Visual FOCUS: The Five-Step Design Process

Inside Cover

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I dedicate this book to all my incredible students at BYU-Idaho, for their enthusiasm, love of learning, hard work, and encouraging words.

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This book is a compilation of experiences from several years. The first “big idea” for the FOCUS acronym came as inspiration, so I would first like to express gratitude to my Creator for His guidance. Next, I want to thank Emily Kunz for believing in me. She had a profound influence on this book as my creative director and chief editor. Emily stayed positive through the sometimes-grueling tasks. Her tireless efforts, layout/editing skills, good design taste, and sense of humor made this whole process worth tackling.

I would like to acknowledge four mentors in the BYU-Idaho Communication Department who trained me and have always supported me through the years: Robyn Bergstrom, Ron Bennett, Mike Cannon, and Lee Warnick. They have changed the lives of so many students and faculty. It is a privilege to learn from them and work with them.

I have been fortunate over the years to work with an amazing team of teaching assistants. Many of them helped with course content design and taught me many things through the process. Every single one of my assistants have been life-savers to me.

I will always be grateful to several people who were willing to help during the final crunch time with this book. Ron Bennett and Shilo Goodson came through with excellent editing skills. Julie Peterson, Eric Lybbert, and Katie Anderson took time during finals week to design illustrations, create examples, and capture images. I am also grateful for my daughter, Rachel Odell, and friend, Kris Hart, who were willing to proofread at the bitter end. Also, my daughters, Zoe Esplin and Janel Hafen, who filled in to help me out with family events.

My dear husband, Keith, has been an anchor in my life and so encouraging throughout this process. Our four children, their spouses, and eight grandchildren bring us so much joy. I am grateful for the good people they are. I have the most amazing parents who taught me I could do anything I set my mind to. Even though my mother and sister are gone, I still feel their love and support daily. My father is the most positive and happy person I know. At 90, he loves his life and makes the most out of every day. I love my family. I am so grateful for all who have encouraged me and helped me with this book. I look forward to future projects!

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Visual FOCUS: The Five-Step Design Process

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Introduction Intro Icon


Welcome to Visual FOCUS, a unique design approach that blends communication and art perspectives. Visual communication is my personal and professional passion. As a visual media professor, I enjoy facilitating students in their quest to become skilled visual communicators and professionals.

I wrote this book for college students and anyone else who wants to learn a well-rounded approach to design. Through the Visual FOCUS process readers will discover how to balance the design with the message. They can become a valued asset to any organization or company with improved visual communication skills and learn to connect with an audience and produce results.

Each chapter in this book follows a theme with colors, icons, photography, design examples, helpful tips, exercises, and even food analogies to help enhance the learning experience. Readers will find a chapter outline at the start of each chapter for a quick overview.

The first two chapters set the foundation. Then the five phases of the FOCUS process are presented in chapters 3 through 7. At the end of each of these five chapters, readers can engage in active learning as they answer “key questions” and check their learning through a “quick review.”

I learn new things from my students each semester as we study current trends in visual communication. Feel free to see my work at

College students in a traditional or hybrid (partially online) campus classroom

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