What is Information Design?

When I think of Information Design I imagine data and pictures that are relayed to what our minds are perceiving.  However, the technical definition of Information Design can be describes the discipline as “…the translating [of] complex, unorganized, or unstructured data into valuable, meaningful information.” (Baer, p.12)

Although, having said that, I tend to think that it is still up for debate and discussion.  It is more complex and that the true meaning will be something that is constantly changing.  I’m not sure I get Information Design completely.  I do understand that to distinguish between what works–what makes sense–and what does not.  (Jacobson, p. 6) This I can understand completely.  A lot of this is subject to interpretation.  I still believe that what one thinks will not always be what another thinks.  Perception and Intuitions seems to be a key ingredient, but so do visuals and brainstorming.  Recognizing this fact is something I am doing in my current job.  We have a new program called Connect the Dots.  We are all coming together, brainstorming, and operating as one unit in harmony.  Of course nothing is ever that perfect, but it is a concept that is being used with businesses and their effectiveness as a whole.  I also find this is a good way to improve working relationships between management and employees.  With the use of diagrams, visuals, maps, we can make our progression go even further.  (Cross, Commentary)

I find Information Design is a way for us to advertise or communicate data through information systems, wayfinding systems (search engines), visualizations of statistical data.  It will be very interesting to see how this will continue to progress.  As Instructor Neal Cross points out: Who is your audience? (Cross, Commentary) I find this extremely important to one such as myself in writing.  Considering most information design tasks target a specific audience, this is definitely something a writer or editor would need to have.  I find the W’s as Roam pointed out are very significant: who, what, when, where, why, and how or how much.  The steps Roam outlines of visual thinking: looking, seeing, imagining, and showing are definitely in the realm of what is ideal for information design.  I have to wonder if one doesn’t have one of those senses how these steps are achieved.  I am going to believe that this will be something we will consider through this course.  This term I hope that this will help me to visualize as much as I formulate and gather data.

I happened across another wordpress page that I finally got some bit of a clue what this class will entail.  I recommend all to read the page as it pertains to the class.


If you will notice by the image this is a very complex view of the process of Information Design.  This image is also a product of information design.  I really hope to get a better grasp of this and to use this in my current job and for the future.

Works cited:

Sheila Pontis Effective Information Design

Baer, Kim. Information Design Workbook. Rockport. Massachusetts. 2009. Page. 12.

Jacobson, Robert E. Information Design. Cambridge, Mass: MIT, 1999. Page 6-13. Print.

Cross, Neal. “M1 Instructor Commentary.” Moodle: Authentication Choice. State University of New York Empire State College, 22 Dec. 2014. Web. 24 Sept. 2015. <https://moodle.esc.edu/mod/page/view.php?id=1063920&gt;

Roam, Dan. The back of the napkin (expanded edition): Solving problems and selling ideas with pictures. Penguin, 2009



Posted on October 3, 2015, in ESC, School and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great blog, Melissa! I’ve been checking out the link you provided to Sheila Pontis’ Effective Design and I found it extremely helpful; so much so that I’m printing it out for reference. Like you, I’m still getting a handle on Information Design but every bit of information is clarifying areas that were a bit of a mystery beforehand. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment in your blog!


    • Thanks so much bluewolf (Shawn ;)) I actually found I got Information Design a bit more with Sheila Pontis’ view. I loved her examples and I, too, have printed and will use as a reference. She makes excellent points. I look forward to yours as well! Thanks!


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