Information design, also known as explanation design or user experience design is the practice of presenting information so that users can easily understand and process it.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see it in action, from the maps and posters in your local train station to the menu you pick up in the next restaurant.
The whole point of this type of design is to create an information hierarchy that allows your reader (or viewer) to follow your key points quickly and easily, and follow your call-to-action without issues.
Let’s take a closer look.
What is information design?
Whether it’s a firm’s website, or a bill from a utility company, information design helps to make things clear. When it’s done right, you don’t notice it, because you don’t have to stop and think ‘what does it mean?’
Creating a good information design system means thinking carefully about how to position things on the page. It means considering your choice of colour for each element, to draw the eye to certain pieces of information before others. And it means thinking about how everything comes together as a crystal clear message.
At the same time, the final design still needs to be attractive and appealing to readers – a perfectly designed poster printed in black and white is never going to get the attention it deserves.
How do you measure success?
It’s fair to say that a piece of information design is effective if:
- It helps users navigate and understand complex information such as facts, figures and directions.
- It helps users finish a complex task or meet a need.
- Users don’t feel frustrated or overwhelmed by swathes of data or information.
What about information hierarchy?
We’re constantly bombarded with information in our everyday lives, and it’s so easy to switch off and stop paying attention.
Information hierarchy is one of the main tools we have to fight this feeling. It’s a way of structuring information on a page that makes it easy to digest and follow. It creates a logical flow, so that people can see exactly what’s next, and how it relates to the rest of the content.
If you ask a design agency, they’ll tell you that they use this concept to help users cope with information overload. Using best practice design principles and effective language, a good information hierarchy transforms the way people interact with the finished piece of work.
How can it help a business?
By getting an information designer to use all the tricks up their sleeves to simplify your most complex messages, you can produce adverts, websites, letters and much more that produce better results.
If your reader gets confused by your most recent poster, they won’t remember what you do. They might remember your name, but only because they associate it with being frustrated.
In today’s fast-paced society, people only have a few minutes (if that) to absorb information. Make things easier for your users and you’re already a big step ahead.
Photos courtesy of gettyimages.com