Information Design Praxis


The main goal in information design and instruction design should always be clarity of communication.
[7TheoriesID, p.824]

Aesthetically pleasing visuals may not be of great instructional value. However, they attract more readers.
[7TheoriesID, p.824]

Careful integration of words and pictures engage people more effectively than words or pictures alone.
[7TheoriesID, p.825]

Visual messages are superior to verbal messages when content is emotional, holistic, immediate, spatial and visual.
[7TheoriesID, p.827]

The main goal in information design is clarity of communication. In order to fulfil this goal all messages must be accurately designed, produced and distributed, and later correctly interpreted and understood by members of the intended audience.
[IDGuidelines, p.168]

The information designer should not view communication as complete until the intended receivers understand the messages.
[IDGuidelines, p.169]

Producers of information and learning materials can facilitate communication, and also the learning processes of the receivers.
[IDTheories, p.13]

In general one can state that information should be as simple, clear, and unambiguous as possible.
[IDTheories, p.45]

Nielsen and Hackos (1993) state that “elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources. The best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford.”
[HealthInfoIconDesign, p.13]

Nielsen, J., & Hackos, J. T. (1993). Usability engineering (Vol. 125184069). Academic press: Boston.

While Information Design primarily focuses on the representation of data and its presentation, the emphasis in Interaction Design is on the creation of compelling experiences. When designing projects, I usually find it easier to start with the information design process if a substantial amount of data already exists and the interaction design process if it does not.
[InfoInteractionDesign, p.2]

Just as data can be transformed into meaningful information, so can information be transformed into knowledge and, further, into wisdom. Knowledge is a phenomenon that we can build for others just as we can build information for others from data. This is done through Interaction Design and the creation of experiences.
[InfoInteractionDesign, p.3]

The first step in transforming data into information is to explore its organization. […] Literally everything can be organized by alphabet, location, time, continuum, number, or category.
[InfoInteractionDesign, p.5]

Often, there are often better ways to organize data than the traditional ones that first occur to us. Each organization of the same set of data expresses different attributes and messages. It is important to experiment, reflect, and choose which organization best communicates our messages.
[InfoInteractionDesign, p.5]

All people learn differently and have varying skills. Some may be comfortable with maps while others prefer lists. Some may not understand an alphabetical listing while others can’t relate to a continuum. Multiple organizations help everyone find things easier.
[InfoInteractionDesign, p.7]

All effective communications involve defining the goals of the experience and the messages to be communicated as early in the development process as possible. These definitions drive all decisions, from Information Design, through Interaction Design, and including all aspects of Sensorial Design. Every decision, no matter how simple or mundane, should support the defined goals and messages. This ensures that inappropriate data, techniques, technology, or styles are not used. For every decision, the solution should be one that best meets the goals and messages defined at the beginning of the project.
[InfoInteractionDesign, p.8]


Style is dependent on the choice of words, consistency, expressions, picture elements, symbols, and graphic design. Abstract words, jargon, long and complex sentences, passive constructions, and stilted language may obstruct reading.
[IDGuidelines, p.173]

Information sets may convey the intended message without harmony, proportion and a “transparent” graphical form. It is, however, quite possible that an aesthetically pleasing message is more efficient and more effective.
[IDGuidelines, p.176]

One of the message designer’s first problems is to gain the attention of the members of the audience, and thereafter she or he has the continuing problem of holding their attention. Any information set and any presentation must constantly redraw the attention to hold the interest of the viewer. A presentation may hold the viewer’s attention when the rhythm, layout, and pace are not predictable and too boring.
[IDGuidelines, p.177]

Colours, illustrations, images, lines, pictures, sounds, symbols, texts, and words should be integrated in such a way that they can be interpreted as a meaningful whole rather than a number of individual elements.
[IDGuidelines, p.178]

Colour communicates. Colour can be used to group elements, indicate meaning, clarify the structure of a text, and to make learning easier. Colour enhances the attention and perception of a visual message. If people like the contents in a picture, they like them even more when the visual is presented in colour. From many experiments, it is clear that people prefer colour in visuals. To some extent colour is a language of its own.
[IDTheories, p.28-29]

The term harmony may be used in all design disciplines to mean that the design decisions, and the design elements fit together. There is harmony in information materials when all design elements fit well together and form harmonious relationships. Within an organization it may often be a good idea to develop and use standard templates for graphic design of documents.
[IDTheories, p.29]

Graphics that work well in one medium may not be as effective in another. Pamphlets, posters, web sites, video and other media each have their strengths and weaknesses for conveying information.
[ID4Advocacy, p.28]

Information design is not just presenting information in a pretty way, but making it easier to understand and providing new routes to understanding. Your audience completes the design, bringing their interpretation and taking action. Cycles of testing and revising your graphics bring your audience into the design process and help ensure your design meets your goals.
[ID4Advocacy, p.40]

All style has meaning, whether it is implied, accidental, or deliberate. Choosing the appropriate attributes and implementing them consistently is imperative to the development of a cohesive experience. For large projects, this cohesion can easily get lost as many people implement various parts to their own standards. There are few details that do not affect the presentation, legibility, and understanding of the meaning of a message. Even a detail like justified type (flush left, flush right, or centered) changes the legibility and perception of a paragraph and, therefore, the text itself. All sensorial details must coordinate not only with each other, but with the goals and messages of the project.
[InfoInteractionDesign, p.14]


The information designer needs to facilitate attention, perception, learning, and memory of the messages provided in layout, pictures, and texts in information materials. The intended audience must be able to notice the message, and then mentally process the data.
[IDTheories, p.36]

Among the thousands of stimuli in the external context we only feel, hear, see, smell, taste, or “pay attention to” one stimulus at a time. Attention is sudden, direct, and distinct. The sequential flow of attention to the parts of a message is determined by the sequence in which information is presented to us.
[IDTheories, p.37]

We do not “see” patches of colours and shades of brightness. We look for, recognize patterns, and combine them into something meaningful. We perceive things, like books, cats, dogs, flowers, houses, people, and trees. We rely on our experiences, thoughts, and values to interpret, understand, and create meaning from what we hear, taste, touch, see, and smell.

The perception system strives to obtain clarity. When the system arrives at clarity, then clarity serves as reinforcement, a reward.
[IDTheories, p.39]

Readability & Legibility

As discussed by Bernard (2003), older adults prefer larger font sizes and sans serif fonts over serif fonts (M. Bernard, Liao, & Mills, 2001). In in a study by Bernard, Liao, and Mills (2001), serif fonts (Georgia and Times New Roman) were compared to sans serif fonts (Arial and Verdana) at 12- and 14-points. In this study 27 older adults between the ages of 62 and 83 preferred the 14-point fonts that promoted faster reading and were found more legible. The sans serif fonts were more preferred than the serif fonts.
[HealthInfoIconDesign, p.10]

Bernard, M., Liao, C. H., & Mills, M. (2001). The effects of font type and size on the legibility and reading time of online text by older adults. Paper presented at the CHI'01 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems.

The eye movement record indicated that reading performance is affected by the number of spaces following periods. Specifically, when text was presented with two spaces following the periods, readers were more likely to skip the punctuation region, make fewer fixations on it, and fixate for a shorter duration than when the periods were only followed with one space. These effects were not dependent on one’s typing preference; even those who type with only one space following periods showed early facilitation in processing the region near the period when it was followed by two spaces.
[2SpacesFollowingPeriods, p.1508]

However, if the facilitation from two spaces is due in whole or in part to increasing the space relative to other spaces (e.g., to indicate not only the end of a word, but also the end of a sentence), then two spaces should facilitate reading even when text is presented in a proportional font where a single space is the same size regardless of whether it follows a punctuation mark or not.
[2SpacesFollowingPeriods, p.1509]

The initial processing of text was facilitated following two spaces and not even those who type according to the one space convention benefitted from having only one space.
[2SpacesFollowingPeriods, p.1510]

The W3C consortium, in its new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 candidate recommendations, includes a guideline to “Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.” This guideline includes recommended contrast ratios for text and images of text against their backgrounds at minimum and enhanced levels.
[LegibilityDigitization, p.3]

Guideline 1.4. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, W3C Candidate Recommendation 30 April 2008, http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#visual-audio-contrast-contrast.
The differences in contrast are differences in relative luminance. See the procedure for calculating relative luminance at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-GENERAL/G17.html.

The large-scale digitization projects that are currently underway will determine to a large degree how texts are accessed on computer screens, in print (as print-on-demand hard copies), and through next generation media in coming years. With so much at stake, it is essential to ensure that technological efficiency and convenience are not achieved at the expense of end-user experience and accessibility.
[LegibilityDigitization, p.9-10]

It has been a significant challenge in legibility studies, and one that is still a source of confusion today, to derive a coherent and unified definition of legibility. In general, it has always been agreed that legibility refers to the physical characteristics of text and figures presented on a page. Disagreement has occurred, however, over whether legibility refers more specifically to the ability to distinguish characters from one another, the ability to perceive characters, to easily read them, or to understand the meaning they are trying to convey.
[LegibilityDigitization, p.14]

Although investigations into the effects of print and background color on legibility have taken different forms and been undertaken on the basis of a variety of criteria, the experimental evidence clearly demonstrates that legibility of print is directly related to the difference in brightness contrast (not necessarily color) between text and background.
[LegibilityDigitization, p.46]

Most mathematical signs fall within groups of letters which are of fair or poor legibility.
[RelativeLegibility, p.492]

Many studies have shown that text set in all caps is harder to read. The reason is that capitals do not provide as many visual “cues” for identifying words. As readers, individuals read both the shape of the letters and the shapes of words.
[InstructionalDocFormatting, p.2]

Because we read the shape of words, a Serif font is the better choice for long lines of body text. Their thick and thin elements and serifs provide superior letter discrimination. It has also been suggested that the serifs on Serif fonts create “bridges” between letters in words, which further distinguish the words from the spaces between them.
[InstructionalDocFormatting, p4]

Research demonstrates that line length has an impact on the speed that individuals read material. When individuals read, they focus on words in clusters, staying on a cluster of words until they understand it, and then jumping to the next cluster of words.
[InstructionalDocFormatting, p6]

The issue with line spacing is that as lines get longer, close-set text may cause the reader's eyes to drift to a line adjacent to the line they are reading. For students with poor reading skills, this breaks their concentration and reduces their ability to understand the meaning of the material they are reading. For normal readers, this is merely an inconvenience that slows reading. For individuals with poor reading skills or reading disabilities, they are already exerting a considerable effort to simply read the words. Therefore, any disruption in the flow of their reading further reduces their ability to comprehend the material.
[InstructionalDocFormatting, p6]

Hierarchies are established by using contrast. Contrast can be achieved by differences is shapes, size, weight, location, and form. Understanding how contrast works in establishing a hierarchy of information is as simple as understanding that people look at the elements on a page in the order of their size or dominance. This allows the creator of a document to control the eye movements of people viewing their document fairly precisely.
[InstructionalDocFormatting, p7]

Research has demonstrated that choosing appropriate typefaces, line spacing, and line lengths increase students’ reading speed. It has also demonstrated that establishing a clear hierarchy of information helps them organize material and increases their comprehension.
[InstructionalDocFormatting, p9]

Another initiative significantly increased the number of workers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit just by sending out mailers, reducing the amount of text on the application, and using a more readable font. No kidding: using Frutiger font‒that sturdy, confident typeface adorning Swiss road signs and prescription labels‒helped bring millions more dollars to low-income working families.
[WelfarePenalties, p56]

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