The readings for “The process of Information Design” have suggested the process is broken down into stages. This is my explanation of the process.
So, word around town is that you want to know about the complicated, intricate and the complexities of the overwhelming process of Information Design. How a designer welcomes a user into their world and vice-versa, right? Ok, this is very important and don’t forget these words of wisdom, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Yes, there are several crucial steps that need to be completed in order to be successful, yet it’s easier than you think. Emily Cohen who serves on the board of advisors of InSource and on the AIGA In-House task force commented, “Great information design invites the reader to join in the process of interpretation, and will thus go a long way in improving how the requester and designer values and interprets the content.”
It all begins with inquiries, stage one. First you need to define the problems and goals through questions leading to the progression of knowing your target audience. Why is it needed? You need to analyze the problem and goal while researching your target audience leading to defining how success will be measured. If this step is positive a designer will be able to answer such questions such as, “Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How?” What do you want to achieve? Who will use it? How will they use it? Where will they use it? When will they use it?
Stage two is when a strategy is developed through brainstorming ideas. This is the fun part depending on your point of view. Start with gathering information through research and organizing your data into a creative brief. Mark Boulton described the processes in his online book, A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web, “The creative brief is a document produced by a designer in response to the client brief. Sometimes, it is an oral brief given at the start of the project by a senior creative, meaning someone on the design team, such as an art director, creative director or designer. It outlines the creative elements of the project.” Look for any data patterns while learning more about your target audience and look for potential narrative hot spots too. Because in a sense you are the storyteller and this is your inspirational stage. Select the content and plan the layout.
Now for the third stage, you will create a persona with different scenarios in presenting the information to the user. All of your data now comes into play as described by Kim Baer, “A persona is a brief profile of a typical user that outline attributes, desires, needs, habits, and capabilities of a typical user” (58). By identifying your main audience you will receive further ideas and data about a user and how to categorize them. This is where a designer may see more patterns to focus on.
The final stage incorporates drafting and testing two different prototypes or structural overviews of the information design product: a sitemap and a blueprint or what’s called a wireframe. If you are working with a client then ask to receive copies of current marketing materials. This gives you an idea of where they have been and what you see for their future designs. In Website Information Design or in an interactive design, a site map is developed consisting of all the main topic areas of the site, as well as sub-topics. It organizes the information to create an outline. According to Kim Baer, “Sitemaps are foundational tools of information architecture, related to the master planning documents…A well-organized sitemap gives you an at-a-glance view of the entire site, with all its main sections, pages, and sublevel pages” (66). Another tool used is a wireframe which is a detailed sketch of how the content will be prepared. It is the architecture that depicts a sketch integrating a detailed view of the content using one or two colors. Once a prototype is created of the design, testing will begin. Different types of testing techniques are utilized such as concept tests, participatory design, focus groups, usability testing, and beta testing. A successful experiment is not only a time saver but also can solve problems which were not forecasted.
I would add a step of documenting the guidelines, patterns and specifications of the design. Another step would be to incorporate a review of metaphors and essential concepts in words, images, sounds and touch. In my opinion, the Information Design process can be improved by incorporating a new the last stage continuing the process by gathering feedback and updating the design based on new information. I believe the most important step of the process is stage two where the creative juices flow and a brief is created along with a layout and the content based on pertinent questions used as guidelines.
What must be kept in mind is that each industry and field will require specific Information Design tools and therefore no two designs will entail the same process. Different problems, different solutions.
Boulton, Mark. A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web. Pernath: Mark Boulton Design, LTD., 2009.
Cohen, Emily. A Call to Action: Information Design for Project Initiation Documentation. 2012. 28 mar. 2012 <http://inhowse.howdesign.com/contributors/emily-cohen/a-call-to-action- information-design-for-project-initiation-documentation/>.
M03- Instructor’s Commentary. 7 Mar 2012. Processes of Information Design. https://esc.angellearning.com/section/default.asp?id=EMPU%2D8P9VYG.