Thursday, June 25, 2009

information design - definitions?

Well, here I am again. I will try every few days to keep adding my thoughts to this blog and hope that you will react and add yours too.

I have enough topics to last for a while and you will see random thoughts but they will all be centered on this thing I call “information design.”

I hate to get into a discussion about the definition since all of us have our own. But maybe that is one of the problems. If you go to any of the websites: PLAIN. CPL, IIID, CRI, IDA, Wikipedia, etc. you will find different definitions. If you talk to information/graphic designers, writers/plain language experts, usability experts, user experience experts, etc., you will find different definitions, but we are all dealing with similar issues and are looking for the same end.

I’ll put my definition out there, but be forewarned, it is long and wordy. I have been struggling with this for many years. The reason for its wordiness is twofold, one – I am trying to incorporate many aspects and two – I’m not a writer!

“Information design is the result of a clear and comprehensive understanding of the businesses and audiences for which the communications is intended. And the appropriate use of plain language, the organization and logical grouping of information, the appropriate use of color and typography, and the effective management of white space.”

I warned you it was wordy!

Here’s another way:

“Information design is communicating effectively by providing the right information to the right person at the right time in a tried and tested way that it is easily understood.”

Again, I’m not sure it is the best. When it comes down to it, we, as communicators, need to be able to explain it, simply, clearly, understandably. When I was strictly a “graphic” designer, I used to open presentations by saying that it took my mother 10 years to understand what I do! Now, it is almost impossible!

I don’t want to get stuck on definitions, although at sometime we need something to put out there that easily explains our expertise. So if any of you want to chime in, please do.

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