What is Information Design? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

Conveying information efficiently is very important, more so in today's world where information is flung at us from all directions. In this lesson, we'll take a look at what information design is and why it's important.

It's in the Message

Just about everything we experience these days has some sort of meaning attached. Advertisements in major magazines and publications affect us through compelling imagery. Political speeches from presidential candidates attempt to sway us to their point of view. And activities like yoga and exercise tell us something about our bodies through movement. In each case, there is a message presented, and a hope that we will learn something from it. But how does the sender make the message as effective as possible? There is an area that focuses on questions like these, and it is called information design.

What is Information Design?

Information design attempts to present data as efficiently and effectively as possible. And by that, we mean in a way that it can be digested quickly and easily. Often, this is visual in nature because of our dependence on sight. But the area looks at all forms of representation, or modalities:

  • Visual: Information is represented such that it can be seen
  • Auditory: Information is represented such that it can be heard
  • Kinesthetic: Information is represented such that it can be touched

Some representations have more than one modality, as in the case of a television commercial, which has both a visual mode and an auditory mode.

Why Should We Care About Information Design?

Information design is significant for three reasons:

  • It represents information in a way that makes it quickly and easily understood. This is the main purpose of the field.
  • Each person has an inherent preference for one of the modalities and will learn things more easily if they are presented to using the appropriate modality.
  • Acknowledging the previous point, it is important to address as many of the modalities in each representation as possible. This will ensure that the representation reaches the largest number of people. That isn't to say that every representation will address all modalities, but it is the goal.

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