There are many definitions of information design as there are uses for it in various fields according to Baer (208) such as, “Interaction designer, information architect, plain language expert, human factor’s specialist, graphic designer, user experience designer, and human computer interaction specialist. (para 14). Information design is not limited to only enhance these fields, but all fields like business, marketing etc., and all people. For example De Rossi (2001) commented, “Information Design is the detailed planning of specific information that is to be provided to a particular audience to meet specific objectives. The output of information design consists of visually delivered information which is highly designed for the benefit of the user….Information Design is all about the psychology and physiology of how users access, learn, and remember information; the impact of colors, shapes, and patterns, learning styles.” De Rossi categorizes the benefits and effectiveness by utilizing diagrams, charts, information maps and flowcharts in technical or business related information. (para 5-6).
Kasperek (2001) refers to the long term outlook of information design as, “Going beyond the butterfly ballot, information design extends to and can improve all types of media: print, editorial, ads, Web sites, CD ROMs, signs, any type of public communication.”
Baer (2008) describes the definition from the Society for Technical Communication’s (STC) as, “…the translating [of] complex, unorganized, or unstructured data into valuable, meaningful information” (p. 12). Horn remarked, “Information design is defined as the art and science of preparing information so that it can be used by human beings with efficiency and effectiveness. (Jacobson, 2000).
Another area of information design is the approach used for web development as noted by Knemeyer (2003), “Information Design is dedicated to making information as effective as possible. Effective is a carefully chosen word here. In order to be as effective as possible, information must carefully balance a variety of factors, including, but not limited to clarity, relevance, timeliness, amplitude, volume, and differentiation…Information Design grounds that consultation and planning process. By approaching the Web project as an information solution, among the galaxy of information solutions and organizational realities that face clients, developers are equipped to design a Web site or application that best contributes to their business success.”
These definitions though related to specific fields have one thing in common. Information design is a tool that simplifies and communicates ideas, complex problems, issues or solutions to an audience visually, in a manner that is easier to comprehend through colors, symbols, words, and pictures. Where would we be without wayfinding designs such as:
or websites that guide us to the next page? In my opinion, it would be a trip back sixty years. Today, we teeter on information overload on a daily basis and as Horn stated, “What we need is not more information but the ability to present the right information to the right people at the right time, in the most effective and efficient form” (p.20).
Baer, Kim. Information Design Workbook: graphic approaches, solutions, and inspiration + 30 case studies. Beverly: Rockport Publishers, Inc., 2008.
De Rossi, C. L. (2001). Learn what Information Design really is and why it is useful when creating charts and diagrams. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from http://www.masterviews.com/2001/11/15/what_is_information_design.htm
Jacobson, R. (Ed.). (2000). Information Design. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Kasperek, R. (2001). Information Design for Editors. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from http://www.editorsforum.org/forum_index_articles/design_10-17-01.php
Knemeyer, D. (2003). The Information Design approach to Web development. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from http://digital-web.com/articles/the_information_design_approach_to_web_development/