Thursday, May 9, 2013

black and white is color

In my work for financial services companies, most of the content appears in black and white. Sometimes preprinted stock is used or color is used for the text, but most often all content is in black and white. So, how is one piece of content distinguished from another? This is where knowledge of fonts and their weights come in because there is color in black text. Try squinting at the following two examples and you will see that they are shades of black. This technique of squinting is good when viewing large amounts of text on a page because you can see how the shades of black work together and how some information stands out.

As you will see, the piece on the left looks grey while the piece on the right is black. This is the color of black and white. Below shows how combing bold and light (light and dark grey) immediately draws the eye to the most important information and guides it through the document.

Next time - UN in LUNA.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

LOCATE - the L in LUNA


In order for any communications to be clear, the user (here i go again) needs to be able to find information that he/she is looking for. That means many things. Among them are:

1. choosing correct fonts
2. management of white space
3. grouping of information
4. understanding the "color" of black and white
5. graphic design (look & feel)
6. placement of information
7. font choice/size/weight of different types of information
8. hierarchy of information

Talking about font choices, weights, and sizes can be a very long, technical discussion. It is the hardest thing a graphic designer has to learn because everything a designer does involves typography. There are hundreds of fonts, some very similar, but they all have their particular nuances. Even Arial and Helvetica although very similar, (Arial is based on Helvetica) are quite different. A deep discussion at this point would be too involved, but if you are interested, I would suggest reading Just My Type by Simon Garfield, a good book that is both informative and interesting. I will go into typography in more detail in a future blog.

White space management is extremely important. Most often, I run into the client who says "oh, here is an empty space, let's add a message" or something to that effect. In reality, finding information on a document or website can be challenging if the page is jammed with text and the eye cannot distinguish areas of content. In fact, I would say that white space is THE most important consideration.

Next to white space, grouping of information is next. I have seen designers put so much space between lines, that each line looks to be its own thought making the a paragraph read as multiple areas. Here is a little example. On the left side the eye sees one group of information  on the right side, the eye is seeing multiple pieces of content making reading more difficult.

next time - the color of black and white and why it is important.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A new view on Information Design

LOCATE/UNDERSTAND/ACT™ or as I refer to it -  LUNA

In an attempt to clarify my work and to simplify my projects, I have created the LUNA process. Over the next few weeks, using examples, I will explain the process and its meaning relative to clear communications. Although I call myself an information designer, I've aways felt that it was difficult for the average (non-designer) person to comprehend easily, and without too much additional explanation, what it is I do and how I make communications more successful.

Let's start with the high level view: 
In order for any communications to be clear, the user must be able to LOCATE the information (content) that they need easily and quickly. Next they then need to UNDERSTAND the information that they found, and thirdly, they need to be able to ACT upon the information they found and understood. Although my expertise is in financial services, insurance and healthcare documents, LUNA is defined in a broad way - any paper document, any website, any smart phone or tablet - in fact - ANY communications. If you can't satisfy ALL three areas of LUNA, then the communications fails. But, more on that in another post.

A note here is in order - I use the word "user", but I'm afraid that might not be the best. I've tried audience, person, customer, etc., not ideal choices. I'm having trouble finding a suitable replacement. 

Any suggestions?