Word clouds have been used in several usability studies and have been found to be effective for emphasis of topics through visual design. (The following research was done by Lohmann et al.)
- Tag size: Large tags attract more user attention than small tags (effect influenced by further properties, e.g., number of characters, position, neighboring tags).
- Scanning: Users scan rather than read tag clouds.
- Centering: Tags in the middle of the cloud attract more user attention than tags near the borders (effect influenced by layout).
- Position: The upper left quadrant receives more user attention than the others (Western reading habits).
- Exploration: Tag clouds provide suboptimal support when searching for specific tags (if these do not have a very large font size).
Here are some examples:
There are many ways to make a word cloud. Below are several options.
An available free method for creating word clouds is “Wordle”.
Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to your own desktop to use as you wish.Create WordCloud Here
Tagxedo turns words, famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters into a visually stunning word cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text. Tagxedo allows you to:
- make word clouds in real-time
- customize font, theme, color, orientation, and shape
- fine-tune with lots of options
- save as images for printing and sharing
- view your word clouds as thumbnails, and pick the one you want for further tweaking or saving
- choose from many standard fonts
- use custom fonts (e.g. downloaded from Font Squirrel, DaFont, FontSpace, or your own hand-drawn fonts)
- constrain the word cloud to selected shapes (heart, star, animals, etc)
- use images as custom shapes (e.g. a portrait, an animal silhouette)
Tagul allows you to generate gorgeous word clouds with effects like words inside words, roll over effects, and export into various formats.
Tagul Word Cloud Generator
TagCrowd enables you to create word clouds from any text. Methods of text input are through copy and paste, text file, or URL. TagCrowd can automatically visualize through word frequency and set properties like number of words, grouping, word frequencies, upper/lower case, etc.TagCrowd Word Cloud Generator
Wordcloud in Photoshop
Of course, many visual designs can also be created in Photoshop. Here are some cool tutorials on creating Word Cloud Shape designs in Adobe Photoshop.
For this particular method, you need to have Photoshop installed, so this is not a free method, although is a quality and can be a graphically stunning one.