Human ingenuity is always striving for improvement; often in the form of new technologies. Information design is a field seeking opportunities to improve communication in all forms. New technologies are here, and on the horizon, which offer us great opportunities to move forward in communication.
In realizing what tools can be turned to your advantage, you will gain in ease of creating a quality product and often in time saved. Keeping up with the new tools available to an information designer will likely always be a lot of work; but also a lot of fun and often cool.
Information design is about making data more useful and easier to consume; the field of wayfinding is an obvious example; notably, the creation of maps. When bad data gets into the design process the whole effort is defeated – sometimes to absurd results. The power of well-done information design is that any reality can be made to seem true – with great power comes great responsibility.
Maps change history:
In the early 1500s, Spanish maps of the western coast of North America showed California as an island. Initially an innocent mistake, it was known by 1582 that California was definitely not an island; however the idea, and the map, persisted well into the 1700s.
It’s not just an issue from our past:
Spreading confusion and chaos may tickle the evil genius part of us, but you’re unlikely to convince a substantial portion of the world that an entire state has moved out into the Pacific ocean these days. A bad map, however, will still cause unrealistic perceptions of the world and the life we live in that world; with great power comes great responsibility.
The end goal of any design is for that which is designed to do what it is created to do. If something designed to be used by a person does what it is supposed to but is awkward, difficult or unpleasant to actually use then your design is a failure…
…UX is short for User eXperience; it is a growing field that focuses on the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product.
Craig Brown offers some insight:
A good designer knows what the UX is going on.
Design fundamentally means ‘user-oriented’ and since we can only see the world through our own narrow view we must get feedback to be more effective; therefore, critiques – or crits.
But when you realize it was you who asked for the crits…
Which, in turn, makes you feel…
Julie Zhuo offers a couple suggestions: look at feedback with a growth mindset; focus on your purpose or the end goal.
If you remember why you’re designing the thing you are; you’ll realize you need the outside input to know you’re making effective choices. Critiques aren’t fun. And though they feel like a self-inflicted punch in the face, they do serve a valuable role. So, suck it up buttercup and realize it’s for your own good.
Early in any design project is a time of uber-creativity; brainstorming, mind mapping, problem-solving. The creative process is a stumbling block for many in the early stages of design; writer’s block, complacency, indecision. To push yourself to greater heights of creativity it’s helpful to find a way to make a mess of things.
There are many ideas on how to systematize your creative process but Tim Hartford tells the story of how a teenage, german music promoter was responsible for pushing a musician to create the best selling jazz, piano album of all time by providing him with a broken piano:
Creation is messy:
Intentionally inserting some randomness, discomfort or resistance into your creative process will push you to do more than you thought you could, to do better than you thought you were able – If you want to make it better, make a mess.
Hans Rosling spent his adult life turning facts into useful information, fighting to dispel myths in order that we may act according to reality and do real good. Hans Rosling passed away earlier this year. His efforts have been heroic in scope; to remember and learn from him is the only fitting memorial.
Myth: The world is getting worse.
Statistics affect our view of the world, which affects how we behave in the world; bad statistics are like monsters: zombies, basilisks, trolls and the like – destroying rather than creating. A man who is known for slaying those monsters with grand style, Hans Rosling has become legend.
Zombie statistics are demonstrably false facts that enter into our social consciousness – eat our brains – and won’t die. About two years ago a misleading report was released stating the average person now has an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish; 8 seconds. Recently; BBC’s More or Less spoke to experts to put down this zombie statistic once again.
Possibly the ‘patient zero’ article that began the infection:
Jimmy was infected early and passed it on to millions:
Today, the infection is going strong:
A bullet to the head for this Zombie:
Hopefully, this is one Zombie FISH STICK we don’t eat whole.