VAS simulates the pre-attentive phase of human vision VAS predicts which areas/objects are most likely to attract our attention – before we're even aware that we're looking at something. VAS "rakes" images looking for 5 elements: edges, intensity, red/green color contrast, blue/yellow color contrast, and faces. Scientific studies have proven that these 5 elements "cut through" visual clutter to catch our attention, much like a baby's cry cuts through the ambient noise in a crowded room or on an airplane.
Do gender, age, socio-economic status, or cultural backgrounds affect VAS results?
No. The pre-attentive phase of vision is universal across all humans. Demographic and psychographic characteristics have no influence on this visual process.
Once we are aware of what we're looking at, demographic and psychographic characteristics are very important influencers, which is why they are used to recruit test subjects for market research.
Why should I believe in VAS predictions?
VAS was built by scientists at 3M who study the human vision system. Models like VAS have been used for decades, calibrated over time by comparing the model's results to the results of actual eye tracking studies. Our validation studies have confirmed that VAS results at least 90% accurate, and the highest possible score is only 96%. In fact, models like these are used for conspicuity and safety.
Also, 3M has decades of experience manufacturing products that manage photons of light, such as optical films in your TV, laptop, tablet and smart phone, and reflective materials used in safety garments, highway signs, traffic cones, and truck markings.
How does VAS streamline creative development?
Once the designer and customer (and whomever else has a vote) understand what VAS predicts, VAS will save time across the entire project:
Gain consensus on visual priorities
Define your visual priorities within your creative brief, or informally before design work starts, or once your desired visual hierarchy becomes apparent.
"I want my logo and call to action to be very prominent."
Use VAS results during concepting and initial design
Create your design, mark up your Areas of Interest and VAS it. Mark up and analysis typically take less than a minute!
Review VAS results to confirm your design is likely to achieve your visual priorities.
VAS results help you understand what's drawing attention to - and away - from your Areas of Interest.
If there's an opportunity to strengthen attention getting power, use VAS results to inform a revision.
Support your recommended design when you present to your customer, or to any stakeholder.
Refer to VAS results during the discussion, and you'll notice less subjective feedback, which often leads to design churn.
Will VAS limit creativity? Will VAS be used to "dictate" design?
No. VAS is like spell check for visual design. VAS results simply call out the areas and objects people are likely to notice at first glance. Designers will always drive the creative process, creating designs that are true to their principles and sensibilities. VAS can't evaluate aesthetics, marketing strategy, or the tactical elements of design. VAS does not comprehend the creative message.
Will VAS ultimately cause creative to converge into sameness?
No. In fact, the opposite is true. VAS will give designers support for their design recommendations, especially when a design falls outside the expected norm and subjective feedback is even more probable. There is no formula for design. The likelihood of areas/objects within creative compositions to attract visual attention is relative, and the same is true for creative materials placed within scenes.
Is VAS more of a design tool, or more a sales tool?
Neither. They must go hand-in-hand. If a sales person differentiates your company by stating that VAS will be used, then your designers will need to follow through and use VAS within the design process, and whomever presents creative to customers will need to use VAS results as support.
Do I have to understand the science inside VAS?
No, that wouldn't be realistic or a good use of your time. You just need to know that 3M does understand. Just know that, while our vision systems are complex, the initial phase of vision – called “pre-attentive processing” – is quite straight forward. VAS predicts pre-attentive processing with 90% accuracy and it's simple to use.
What file types work with VAS?
At this time, VAS accepts JPG, PNG, BMP and PDF files. Each page of the PDF file will be imported as a separate image. For best results, images should be larger than 600 by 600 pixels. Ideal image size is 1024 by 1024. For image types that support image compression, please use high quality images with low compression ratios.