FACTOID # 9: The bookmobile capital of America is Kentucky.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Information design

Information design has been defined as the art and science of preparing information so that it can be used by human beings with efficiency and effectiveness (Jacobson 2000). Image File history File links Broom_icon. ...

Information design has its origins as a subset of, or synonym for graphic design and it is often taught as part of graphic design courses. One of the first uses of the term was by the London graphic design consultancy Pentagram, who used the term in the 1970s to mean their graphic design, as distinct from product or other kinds of design (Pentagram 1978). Since that time, the term has come to be used specifically for graphic design that has the purpose of displaying information effectively, rather than just attractively, or for the purpose of self expression by the designer as artist. Saul Basss poster for the film The Man with the Golden Arm - a highly regarded work of graphic design. ...

During the 1980s information design broadened to include responsibility for message content and language (Felker et al 1984; Albers et al 2003), and a greater role for user-testing and research than had been traditional in mainstream graphic design (Waller 1979; Easterby and Zwaga 1984).

Information designers who have their roots in professional writing sometimes refer to the field as 'document design', particularly in the USA (Schriver 1997). The term Information graphics tends to be used by those primarily concerned with diagramming and display of quantitative information (eg, Wildbur & Burke 1998). The Washington Metro subway map Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. ...

In computer science and information technology, information design is sometimes a rough synonym for (but is not necessarily the same discipline as) information architecture, the design of information systems, databases, or data structures. This sense includes data modelling and process analysis. Computer science, or computing science, is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their implementation and application in computer systems. ... Information technology (IT), as defined by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA)is: the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The term information system has the following meanings: 1. ... In computing, a database can be defined as a structured collection of records or data that is stored in a computer so that a program can consult it to answer queries. ... A binary tree, a simple type of branching linked data structure. ... In information system design, data modeling is the analysis and design of the information in the system, concentrating on the logical entities and the logical dependencies between these entities. ...



Information design probably emerged with humans' first efforts to communicate with one another. Early instances of modern information design include John Snow's spot maps, which pinpointed the source of an 1850s London cholera outbreak, Charles Joseph Minard's 1861 diagram depicting Napoleon's Russian campaign of 1812, and Otto Neurath's International Picture Language of the 1930s. Dr. John Snow John Snow (1813 - 1858) was a British physician and a leader in the adoption of anaesthesia and medical hygiene, and is often considered one of the fathers of epidemiology for his work in tracing the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho, Westminster, England in 1854. ... Categories: Possible copyright violations ... Otto Neurath (December 10, 1882-December 22, 1945) was an Austrian sociologist, political economist, and an unorthodox Marxist. ... Isotype (possibly an acronym for International System of Typographic Picture Education) is a system of pictograms designed by Otto Neurath and Gerd Arntz to communicate information in a simple, non-linguistic way. ...

The term 'information design' emerged as a multidisciplinary area of study in the 1970s. Some graphic designers started to use the term, and it was consolidated with the publication of Information Design Journal in 1979. During the late 60s and 70s, the Journal of Typographic Research (since renamed Visible Language) was publishing research on a wider range of information design topics than its name suggested. Its editor, Merald Wrolstad, co-organised a series of Processing of Visible Language conferences (Kolers, Wrolstad & Bouma 1979, 1980), which brought together designers, psychologists, linguists, and interface engineers. Proceedings of other multidisciplinary conferences at the time include Easterby & Zwaga (1984) and Duffy & Waller (1985). Schriver (1997) has a good history of the emergence of information design.

Channels and document types


The audiences information designers cater to may be very broad (for example, the signs in airports are for everybody), or very specific - information products such as telephone bills may personalized for individual customers using market segmentation and information management techniques and technologies similar to those used in direct marketing. Market segmentation is the process of grouping a market into smaller subgroups. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Marketing Direct marketing is a discipline within marketing that involves contacting individual customers (business-to-business or consumer) directly and obtaining their responses and transactions for the purpose of developing and prolonging mutually profitable customer relationships. ...

A common characteristic of information design projects is an attempt to create or reinforce trust between users and design artifacts. These artifacts are associated with increased responsibility, such as medicine packaging inserts, operational instructions for industrial machinery, and information provided for use in emergencies. In other words, the audience has a reliance on the information conveyed.

This means that information designers have an unusual degree of power over their audiences when compared to other designers,[citation needed] and "with great power comes great responsibility". The increased responsibility means information designers require accountability, and this is developed through user testing of design artifacts. Usability testing is a means for measuring how well people can use some human-made object (such as a web page, a computer interface, a document, or a device) for its intended purpose, i. ...

The power relationship between information designers and their clients is also different from that between graphic designers and their clients. Information designers seek to serve the interests of their clients' audiences as well as those of their clients, and they will often advocate for the audience over the client.


Information design draws on a wide range of competencies that are seldom possessed by a single person. For this reason, information designers tend to work on information products in teams that include specialists and other information designers.

In the United States, the title of information designer is sometimes used by graphic designers who specialize in creating websites. The skillset of the information designer, as the title is applied more globally, is closer to that of the information architect in the U.S. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

This list is indicative rather than prescriptive or fully descriptive.


Using, commissioning, co-ordinating and understanding research. All design involves research as an initial stage. Information design research is likely to involve some or all of the following:

  • Business process investigation and analysis
  • Qualitative and quantitative user research
  • Reference to existing academic research (e.g., ergonomics, cognitive and perceptual psychology)
  • Craft knowledge: what has been tried before


Using words, diagrams, type and sequencing to restructure messages so that they tell a story more effectively.

Writing for clear communication

Writing and/or editing to make messages clear, unambiguous and understandable by their intended audience(s).

Graphic and typographic design

Designing the appearance of an information product so that users can find what they want and understand it when they get there.

Information visualisation

Creating graphic displays which turn data into lucid information.


Understanding how to make preliminary visualizations, models and prototypes which allow discussion and useful testing.


Understanding the range of techniques available for testing prototype and finished information products with their intended audiences. There are a wide range of techniques available, which vary according to the media used and the intended process and audience(s). The ability to select and manage suitable methods in particular projects.


The ability to work well with a range of specialisms and to act as 'professional amateur' in such teams, representing the user.


Understanding what accessibility means for an intended audience. The ability to assess risk realistically. Information design is actually all about accessibility in the wider sense.


Understanding chosen production media and processes. The ability to specify to production specialists in a wide range of industries (print, video, software, web, product manufacturers) clearly and efficiently.

Knowledge base

Typical applications and contexts

Information design affects to a wide range of applications and document genres, including financial information, administrative documents such as forms, medical and pharmaceutical information, food and health information, user guides, technical manuals, travel information, and wayfinding information.

Governments and regulatory authorities have legislated about a number of information design issues, such as the minimum size of font in financial small print, the labelling of ingredients in processed food, and the testing of medicine labelling. Examples of this are the Truth In Lending Act in the USA, that introduced the 'Schumer box' (a concise summary of charges for people applying for a credit card), and the Guideline on the Readability of the Label and Package Leaflet of Medicinal Products for Human Use (European Commission September 1998).


  • Albers, Michael J., Mazur, Mary B., & Mazur, Beth (eds.) (2003), Content and Complexity: Information Design in Technical Communication, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-8058-4141-5
  • Duffy, T.M. & Waller, R. (eds) (1985), Designing Usable Texts, Orlando, Florida: Academic Press.
  • Easterby R., & Zwaga H. (eds) (1984), Information design: The design and evaluation of signs and printed material. London: John Wiley and Sons
  • Felker, D.B., Pickering, F., Charrow, V.D., Holland, V.M. and Redish, J.C. (1981) Guidelines for Document Designers. Document Design Project, American Institutes for Research, Washington, D.C.
  • Jacobson, R. editor (2000) "Information Design: The Emergence of a New Profession", Information Design, MIT Press, p. 15.
  • Kolers, P., Wrolstad, M., & Bouma, H. (eds) (1979), Processing of Visible Language, vol 1, New York: Plenum Press.
  • Kolers, P., Wrolstad, M., & Bouma, H. (eds) (1980), Processing of Visible Language, vol 2, New York: Plenum Press.
  • Pentagram (1978) Living by Design, LondonL: Lund Humphries
  • Schriver, Karen A., (1997) Dynamics in Document Design, NewYork/London: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0471306363
  • Waller R., (1979) Functional information design: research and practice, Information Design Journal, vol 1, 43-50.
  • Wildbur, P. & Burke, M. (1998) Information Graphics: Innovative Solutions in Contemporary Design, London: Thames & Hudson

See also

Knowledge Visualization is a sub discipline of Information Design and Instructional Message Design (pedagogy; didactics, pedagogical psychology). ... Visual literacy is the set of skills involved in the interpretation and criticism of images. ... Web indexing (or Internet indexing) includes back-of-book-style indexes to individual websites or an Intranet, and the creation of keyword metadata to provide a more useful vocabulary for Internet or onsite search engines. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Saul Basss poster for the film The Man with the Golden Arm - a highly regarded work of graphic design. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Wayfinding refers to the ways in which people and animals orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Information design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (181 words)
Information design is the design of information objects, and more generally the design of visual displays of data.
While information design has been practiced since the first book was written (and even before), the modern sense of the term became popular with the advent of the computer and the new efficiency in creating and manipulating data displays allowed by spreadsheet programs.
The goal of the study of information design is not only to record best practices in the area, but to formalize the skills, principles, and technology involved (in a manner similar to instructional design) and to eventually surround itself with an information design theory.
AIGA - Information Design (2076 words)
Most designers are conditioned to regarding the design of information as something that is somehow beneath them; they'd rather be left alone to design posters, logos and glossy brochures, which probably pay better anyway.
Information design has it's place in the design field as well as any other type, but forgive most of us if we don't jump for joy at the chance to work on it all the time.
Poorly designed information pieces quite simply CAUSE anxiety, which in turn make it exceedingly difficult for the viewer to proceed to unravel the necessary information in a way that is both pleasant and memorable.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m