Information design:
in practice, an informed theory

InformForm is an international platform for information design, which celebrates and explores both practical and theoretical experimentation within the field of design. It prides itself on showcasing relevant examples of work by students, for students. Read More

inform #4 using and understanding information

By InformForm

Information design project by Ravensbourne Graphic Design student Sarah Kettle

Information can be interesting, uninteresting, useful, useless, important, boring, redundant or wrong. The removal of ambiguous or superfluous information in information design can deconstruct the complexity of the message, simplify the visualisation and optimise graphic integrity.

It is erroneous to believe that by removing inconsistencies and contradictions (i.e. the bad apple) we are left with the truth (a good apple). All information needs to be understood in relation to itself within a framework of comparison and in a wider context. Edward Tufte refers to this idea of relevance as data-ink in his book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. He suggests that for successful outcomes the designer should maximise data-ink and remove as much non-data-ink as possible.

Context is a powerful tool in information design. The context that information is observed and understood can change the designer’s and reader’s vantage point. For example, in a fruit bowl the apple can be compared to other fruit such as an orange. However when an apple is held it will relate to the size and position of the hand. It might evoke a range of connotations, religious or otherwise (Snow White, New York). The study of signs, also known as semiotics, expands more upon this field.

Recommended texts:
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
This Means This, This Means That: A User’s Guide to Semiotics by Sean Hall
Visible Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics in the Visual Arts by David Crow

Originally published in InformForm #1 2012



Posted in Articles
January 25, 2015
250 words & 2 images

Information design project by Ravensbourne Graphic Design student Sarah Kettle

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