What is it all about?

“There is nothing natural about information. Information, no matter what it is called—data, knowledge, or fact, song, story or metaphor—has always been designed.”                                                                                                                   —Brenda Dervin

What is Information Design?

Information Design: History

Information, designed seems as old as the hills. Safety lessons by way of ancient cave drawings remind us of the terrors facing children; a floating zoo crafted of wood that floated in gale storm backs the existence of some superior architectural plans; and the timeless morals clothed in animal form with their attributes highlighted to make them palatable and stick in the receivers craw still resonate today, though they come to us from somewhere in the vicinity of 620BCE.

So information and design – as an intuitive practice – seems to have been around since time immemorial.

But Information Design – as postulated by this course – seems to be taking designed information to another whole level. A level of consciousness.

Information Design: A level of consciousness

Based on the readings it would seem that practicing ‘Information Design’ is practicing the design of information consciously so that every part of the information is active in ensuring its transmission to its intended audience most efficiently and effectively.

As Jacobson says in his introduction ‘that Information Design is the systematic arrangement and use of communications carriers, channels a, and tokens to increase the understanding of those participating in a specific conversation…”(Jacobson 4)

To communicate clearly you have to know your audience, the what, why, who and how of communication. Consciously knowing and tailoring and testing can lead to an effective way to share information.

Information Design: Advertising and Marketing

Canali De Rossi mentions four purposes Information Design fulfill. 1. Simplify 2. Integrate 3. Filter 4. Selectively Emphasize information. He also talks about how colors, shapes, and patterns affect the psyche as well as measuring response to see what works and what doesn’t (2001) It would seem to me  this focus the Canali mentions as well as some of the others is most often found in the field of Marketing and Adverting.

Post World War II saw an explosion of market research applying scientific and analytic methods in areas including development of consumer profiles, attitudes and usage studies, and new product concept testing. This research conducted by experts in the field studied each aspect of marketing communication using physiology and psychology, helped manufacturers effectively communicate using color and type, in order to ‘sell’ a ‘product.’ Advertising and Marketing certainly saw the use of Information Design.

Information Design: The Web

But the most unique environment yet for Information Design and the one that may move it quickly along in standardization is the internet which currently is the most efficient and accessible way for most people to gain information. Not only is more data stored on the web but the web provides a way to analyze data. This can provide Information Designers feedback and can allow experts to help Information Designers repeat success by honing in on factors that make for successful information transfer. Perhaps even more vital then data analytics is the real time interactivity available with Web 2.0 that can swiftly indicate the success of Information Design as seen in Viral Marketing.

SKATING BABIES: YouTube Video Ad Campaign Enters Guinness Book. It has 45,166,109 views

Designed information has always existed, with some eras in history richer and more intuitive than others but internet ushers in the Era of Information Design; information designed to make the most out of information in every way.


Aesop’s fables. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesop’s_Fables

Baer, Kim (2010-02-01). Information Design Workbook: Graphic approaches, solutions, and inspiration + 30 case studies (Kindle Locations 208-209). Rockport Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Communicating at Berkley. Retrieved from http://administration.berkeley.edu/commguide/planning.htm


Jacobson, Robert E. Information Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2000. Print.

SIS International Research. Retrieved from http://www.greenbook.org/GreenBook/index.cfm?ID=integration-of-market-research-and-competitive-intelligence&CFID=7861917&CFTOKEN=93156313&attributes.fuseaction=Print_LibraryItem

United States in the 1950s. Retrieved fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_in_the_1950s


8 thoughts on “What is it all about?

  1. I really like your blog content and design. It is crisp, clear, simple yet informative. I like the headings you used to address different aspects of the question. Additionally, I think you made an effective connection to the content with the picture and quote you used and also with and the video. The color combinations of the white background, black text, and maroon headings work great together. You also chose to leave many of the side boxes that others used off your blog and I really like how that looks. The focus is the blog content and what you are trying to convey versus having things on the page that can cause the reader to be distracted. The use of the question “What is it all about” provides a nice entry into the content of the blog which answers the next question of “What is Information Design”. I think that is a very effective way to convey the information.

    The video is a fantastic representation of the concept of viral marketing that also transcends into viral information and the video is effectively placed on the blog. The opening quote is well chosen and provides support for the context of your post. The style and flow of the information is visually appealing and holds the reader’s attention. You have paragraphs of information that are short and easy to read because of the use of effective headings allowing transitions from one thought to the next. I liked the use of the words Information Design followed by a colon and the topic. It seems to really tie everything together. Sometimes repetition sticks out and can be distracting-in this case I found it to be effective.

    You might consider adding the word “references” before your list starts. Since your design using heading sot separate each section to have the references start right after the last sentence makes them flow into the post content. You might also consider listing them in alphabetical order.

    I really liked your blog design and information. I look forward to your next post.

    Lisa Pimpinella

    • I really appreciate your detailed response – it was a real shot in the arm. (I confess I did enjoy working on it – I had to force myself to stop monkeying with it and do my home works due for other courses!!!)
      Thank for your ‘References’ suggestions. They are currently in effect;)
      Look forward to more communiques:)

  2. Hi Shayna,
    I really like your blog and you clearly spent considerable time working on it. As a first attempt, I’d say you have a knack. I like that you kept your headings the same color as the primary color of your largest graphic. This creates a repetition that is pleasing to the eye. I think your approach would be best received by those interested in history and/or art. The centering of the text and graphics makes the page easy to look at and well-balanced. You have made your purpose clear and answered the question we were presented. Your use of graphics conveys a message about the historic use of information design that you described in the text. The repetitive use of squares and rectangles also makes the blog balance nicely. The one and only thing that caused me minor confusion is your embedded YouTube video. I see its relevance, but there doesn’t seem to be a solid textual explanation for it (I see an explanation, but it isn’t directly discussing the video or its relevance), and I think providing one could strengthen your message.
    Great job,
    Wendy Gibson

    • Thank you for your critique! I’m glad it came across well. I like that you mention who it would be relevant to – I guess that is an important point to consider – especially for a student of information design:) I’ve added a title to the babies – is that helpful?
      Looking forward to further discussions,
      Shayna Horowitz

  3. Impressive layout, as well as a nice collection of “data.” The Evian commercial really demonstrates good use of design to leave a lasting impression. The key with presenting the information is getting people to remember the product, not just what was in the commercial. Keep up the good work, I look forward to working together and learning the finer points.

  4. Shayna, I was blown away by your blog! So much so that I couldn’t stop talking about it the next day after I first saw it. Nice job! It is obvious that you put a lot of time into it. The design is excellent and research is impressive and informative. I can definitely see you having a successful blog that people will want to visit frequently. Very professional!

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