We recently ran across this TEDEducation lesson on polarity by Christina Kleinberg on Explore, one of our favorite websites to jumpstart inspiration and creativity. TEDEducation videos tend to be wonderful examples of how to tackle a complicated topic in an understandable way, and this video is no exception.

First and foremost, we really like the classroom slideshow feel of the video. The animation has a retro, vintage feel, which is appropriately reminiscent of old PSAs and School House Rock videos. The slightly muted colors, hand drawn illustrations and thick outlined typography play up this association as well.

But the most notable aspect of this video is its relationship between simple design and complex content. All the elements in this video– restricted use of color, simple animation, and hand drawn illustrations– help maintain its simplicity. And that simplicity livens up the relatively complex and boring topic of polarity.

In short, the most important lesson to take away from this video is that when you’re dealing with a complex topic, try to keep your design as simple as possible. A recondite, abstruse topic is infinitely easier to understand when it’s explained with a simple, clean design. Avoid the dreaded Curse of Knowledge by explaining complex topics as simply as possible, which means in both content and design.

Lastly, remember to keep things fun and lighthearted regardless of the seriousness of the topic. Polarity is a dull topic, but this video makes it fun through a playful, lively design. Hand drawn illustrations personify the molecules, bringing the dense information down to an accessible level, and encouraging the viewer to smile and feel lighthearted about an otherwise tedious topic.

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