How do we design information? One may design information however one chooses to. But for information design to be effective the designer must understand certain components, and consider several factors.
Components and Their Use in Information Design
What components are involved in information design? There are many. But for an introduction, there are concepts of typography, color, graphic elements, use of space, and structure of information.
Typography has changed dramatically over the years as technology has advanced, but its' core elements have stayed the same. Typography encompasses the layout of text and the use of different fonts and sizes of fonts. Using appropriate typography concepts in information design can make information more desirable to specific audiences, as well as make information easier to navigate and read.
Color affects most people. Effective information designers understand color theory and know how to use color to attract people to their designs, make designs more readable, and draw attention to specific portions of information. The use of color is probably most important in the context of Internet-based publications, since the computer screen captures more colors than most publishers of printed matter could ever dream of capturing.
- GRAPHIC ELEMENTS
Graphic elements play a huge part in present-day information design. Graphic elements can be as simple as a border around a block of text or more complex than an interactive 3-D map. Graphic elements can be used to convey information, enhance information, or to more effectively display information, among other things.
- USE OF SPACE
A good information designer uses space wisely. He doesn't fill every inch of a page with information and rarely prints a single word on a blank page to get the message across. There is a balance where the designer is able to convey information in an organized manner without causing confusion, overwhelming the reader, or making the text difficult to read.
- STRUCTURE OF INFORMATION
The structure of information is also important. If in conveying information, the designer starts with the final step in a process and ends with the first, the reader may become confused and get lost in the process of trying to follow the information. Care must be taken in structuring information in such a way that it is useful for the reader.
Factors that Effect Information Design
What factors need to be considered? First, a good information designer must know who he is designing information for. For instance, if a designer is designing information to be read and appreciated by teenage girls in a fashion magazine, this designer will use an entirely different set of design ideas than he would were the designer creating an Internet-based learning environment for students of Microbiology at the graduate level.
In addition to considerations of audience, the information designer must know the capabilities of the medium in which she is going to publish her information. If the designer works for a newspaper, there are constraints of space which are different from a web page. There are also differences in color processing, and the designer may or may not have the ability to design the entire layout of the publication if said publication is partial to the layout they have been using.
In conjunction with these factors there are also considerations of professional expectation, type of information (financial data vs. instructional materials for instance), accessibility of information, and so on. A good information designer doesn't just know design, she knows audience, presentation styles for various types of information, and sometimes must have a mastery of the language the textual content is presented in, as well.