Information design is the act of presenting information in a way that encourages efficient and effective understanding of a concept or idea. Visual or graphic design is a critical part of information design.
Fields of study associated with information design, include:
– Descriptive statistics
– Exploratory data analysis
– Graphic design
– Inferential statistics
– Information organization
– Interactive data visualization
– Learning design
– Plot data analysis
– Statistical graphics
– Technical writing
– Usability testing
– User interface design
Information designed has 8 different components:
– Custom writing strategies, copy writing marketing skills
– Functionality design, development and testing
– Graphic design services
– Graphical user interface design
– Instructional design models for e-learning
– Single source technologies and solutions
– Usability design testing methods
– User centered behavior & needs analysis
Custom Writing Strategies, Copy Writing Marketing Skills
Below is a list of strategies to use to develop effective content.
Know your audience.
Use consistent verb tense.
Gather ideas from your life.
Use proper spelling and grammar.
Record your thoughts in a notebook.
Develop a logical sequence for content.
Vary techniques to influence the reader.
Use personal experience to develop content.
Develop content to maintain reader’s interest.
Select word choice appropriate to the audience.
Ask yourself if you have achieved your purpose.
Use facts and stories to support your main idea.
Use writing design and development software tools.
Identify your purpose for writing specific content.
Research concepts and ideas related to your main idea.
Provide offerings for further reading and investigation.
Use detailed descriptions to describe and visualize characters.
Use colorful and sensory language to generate desired emotions.
Get someone else to read your writing for constructive criticism.
Provide opportunities for the reader to infer deeper understanding.
Develop an effective style that supports the main idea and impacts the reader.
Functionality Design, Development and Testing
You have developed a visual graphic. Is it functional? Does it convey the information you want it to convey? Whether it is a website, product package, building sign, piece of furniture, software user interface, book cover or anything else, there is a function or purpose. There are seven basic elements a designer needs to develop a visual graphic that fulfills its intended function.
What Are The Product’s Goals?
What is the goal of a screwdriver? The purpose of a screwdriver is to drive screws into wood or other materials. There are screwdrivers with ergonomic handles, ratchet-assemblies, magnetic tips and exchangeable heads. Ultimately a screwdriver’s design is aimed toward a single goal: driving screws.
Who Is Your Audience?
Is your screwdriver designed for a general contractor or a senior citizen? A general contractor needs a heavy duty tool that can hold up to significant use. A senior citizen needs a tool that is lightweight and easy to use.
What Does Your Audience Intend To Do With It?
A general contractor needs a screwdriver that can hammer, pry and screw. It needs to withstand significant abuse. Senior citizens do not have a lot of hand strength. Also, they do not use a screwdriver on a regular basis. It needs to be lightweight, easy to store and easy to use.
Is It Clear How To Use It?
Compare a smartphone to a rotary phone. A rotary phone makes and receives calls. A smartphone is a handheld computer. It browses websites, calculates, stores files, sends emails, and more. A rotary phone is much easier to use than a smartphone, but it is not able to perform as many functions. As things become more complex, usability becomes more important.
How Does Your Audience Know It Works?
Website contact form submissions and credit card processing are common activities on the Internet. How do people using these modules know they work. When a contact form is submitted or an item is purchased online, a thank you message should appear and an auto response message should be sent to their email.
Does It Engage Your Audience?
Pictures, videos and other media should encourage people to interact with your products and services. They should be informative and inviting. If these media are confusing, too detailed, or not detailed enough, they could cause people to detach from you and your brand. More engagement increases your income potential. Less engagement decreases your income potential.
How Does It Handle Errors?
If there is an error in your design, how would you know? There are numerous steps and components in the manufacturing of a car. If the engine does not turn on, how would you determine what the problem is and how to fix it? A car has sensors, indicators and a computer to help diagnose problems. These should provide clear and accurate information about design problems.
Graphic Design Products
There is a large list of products that fall under graphic or visual design. Some of these include:
Ads / Advertisements
Banners / Headers
Book / Magazine covers
Brochures / Flyers
Charts and graphs
HTML formatted emails
Trade show booths
Graphical User Interface (GUI) Design & Development
A graphical user interface (GUI) is a program or application that makes it easier to use something, such as a database or operating system. Well-designed graphical user interfaces free the user from learning complex programming languages.
The key points in developing an effective GUI is to:
Know your limitations
Analyze what others are doing
Ensure it is usable and accessible*
Involve users at all stages of design and development
* Usability is about ensuring that the design is user-friendly and intuitive. Accessibility is about making sure that the GUI doesn’t create barriers for those who have disabilities or need to access your resource in alternative ways.
Common GUI Elements
There are two GUI elements: structural and interactive. Structural GUI elements form the foundation. They are the static components that define the appearance and layout of the GUI. Interactive GUI elements are objects or visual reminders that represent the state of an ongoing operation and show users what they can do with it.
Control / Widget: Button or other feature that does something when interacted with.
Icon: Small picture that represents a concept.
Menu: List of command choices.
Tab: Small box that contains a label that when activated opens a view panel.
Window: Area on the screen that displays information.
Cursor / Pointer: Indicator to show position of the mouse or touchpad on a monitor.
Insertion Point: Point of the user interface where the focus is located for commands such as writing text, starting a selection or a copy-paste operation.
Selection: List of items on which user operations take place.
The primary goal of any visual graphic project is to enable its users to have effective access to information. Ideally, your digital media objects (images, video, audio) should offer you some long term flexibility. Your digital master files should be large enough to support variations of use.
Its easy to make assumptions about what users need or expect from your graphics. There is no substitute for asking them directly. They are most useful when developing ideas and concepts. They are also useful when testing the product.
Research Other Designs
It is important to look at what others have done. Take the time to research other digital media designs. Identify those concepts that are effective in communicating your style, quality and ideas. Be very critical. Imagine you are a typical user. Identify what works well and what doesn’t.
Now that you researched your users’ needs and explored a range of possible options, identify realistic goals based on your current resources. Identify who is responsible for what and who has permission to perform certain tasks.
Usability testing works with real users. Give typical users some tasks to perform and record what they do and what they think of the resources developed. Interview these users for feedback.
Accessibility is something to take seriously. A responsible resource creator wants to produce something that is as accessible to as many users as possible. Although accessibility issues are often discussed in relation to those with physical or learning disabilities, it is useful to think about accessibility much more broadly. Some people face technological barriers to access, either through a lack of resources or choice of technology. Users connect to online resources through a wide range of different speeds. Large downloads are not very accessible for those with slow Internet connections. Flexibility is the key to accessibility. It is difficult to anticipate every need. It is easier to build in the ability to modify designs to adjust to shifting needs.
Instructional Design Models for e-Learning
The purpose of a design model is to provide a visual representation of the phases or stages a training project will undergo from beginning to end. Here is an example.
There are 9 stages of learning:
1. Gain Attention
2. Inform Learner of Objectives
3. Stimulate Recall
4. Present Stimulus
5. Provide Learner Guidance
6. Elicit Performance
7. Provide Feedback
8. Assess Performance
9. Enhance Retention and Transfer
Single Source Technologies and Solutions
The primary focus of UXO design is the end user. Be a problem solver. Identify and integrate the best combination of products and services for a specific customer into one complete package. You do not need to know how to do everything. Just be the person who knows the right person. Manage and coordinate the project.
Usability Design Testing Methods
Usability testing is the best way to understand how real users experience your design. A well-designed user test measures actual performance on specific tasks. To conduct a usability test, begin by identifying the target audience. The target audience should consist of one or more user groups. It is likely that different user groups perform different tasks as part of their normal usage. Each user group should be given tasks to perform during testing that reflect their different usage patterns. Usability testing recording software such as TechSmith’s Morae (PC only) or Silverback (Mac only) may be used to record the computer screen and the participant’s voice and facial expressions during testing. This software can also facilitate tracking of user behaviors, including mouse clicks, keystrokes, and active windows.
User-Centered Design (UCD), Behavior & Needs Analysis
User-Centered Design (UCD) is a process in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of a product are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. Developers and designers should identify user behavior at each step of the process and integrate the needs of the users into the design. If the end user cannot use or understand the product, the product is essentially worthless.