Information design services

Definitions of information design are:

‘Information design is about improving the design, usability and overall effectiveness of ‘content put into form’ – of verbal and visual messages shaped to meet the needs of particular audiences’ (Information Design Journal).
‘Information designers create and manage the relationship between people and information so that the information is accessible and usable by people, and they provide evidence that the information is accessible and usable to an agreed high standard’ (David Sless, Communication Research Institute).

Essentially information design is more about content, complexity, usability and optimisation, and it differs from purely graphic design or purely plain English, because it is about all the factors needed for a successful communication design project, for people.

How a website design project can become an information design project

As an example, rather than us working on just the aesthetic graphic communication design or the technical backend coding (which are typical website design project tasks), information designers can do:

  • Clear language: edit and rewrite text content to make sure that it is clear and as easy to understand, for as many people as possible.
  • Accessibility for the frontend (what you see): improve colour contrast, typographic legibility, possible new access structures.
  • Accessibility for the backend (website code): as an example, for people with vision impairments, they are likely to be using screenreader software, and we can improve and better describe the website code and elements, when using a screenreader.
  • Usability: make improvements, fixes and optimisations to layout, graphics, text and interactive elements.
  • User testing: find out if people can or cannot do what they need to, or do what you intend.
  • Psychology: how do users feel about the credibility of your branding, or tone of voice, and ease to understand text content?
  • User experience: if the website has an online ordering or e-commerce section, we could look at ways to see how many people exit the website and who do not order anything, even after they have created an account or got to the final stages of a checkout section. We can find out if people are put-off, or are facing obstacles or problems.
  • Use best practice: we can follow academic research, how-to guides, articles from leading professionals, and expert books and manuals.
  • Regulatory and legal requirements: public sector body websites (like health care services, public museums, government departments) in the United Kingdom as of 2018, have to meet certain legal accessibility requirements. We can make sure your website meets the requirements, or often even excel them.

With any item being designed and communicated, we also understand that people need to: find, use and act appropriately on the information (Communication Research Institute).

If you need your information to work well for all involved, information design is for you. It leads to very clear, successful and measurably better communication. In all our work we try to use an information design approach, below are some specific examples of our information design work. The main areas we can help you with are:

  • Intermediate plain English editing and writing advice.
  • Complex document design.
  • Form and questionnaire design.
  • Letter, bill and statement design.
  • Medicine/patient information leaflet (PIL) design.
  • Labelling.
  • Pictogram design, illustration and testing.
  • Wayfinding and signage.
  • Testing and user feedback (we can get data on how well or how not well your communication is actually working with people).
  • User experience (UX) design.
Image of test paperwork

Reduced size showcase of the credit card statements from different countries.

Bar graph showing the 3 levels across all credit card statements

Summary of overall performance across all credit card statements.

Bar graph showing the 12 overall peformance levels across all credit card statements
Overall performance level from countries.

 

Bar graph showing the 14 levels of task requirement results across all statements
Performance level of tasks across all all credit card statements.

Client

Communication Research Institute (international collaborative project).

Item

Credit Card Statements: Communication Benchmarks 2009.

Input

Benchmarking, user testing.

Results

View project report and findings (PDF) which is a summary of the headline data. If you would like access to the full data, contact the Communication Research Institute.

Short description of what we did for the client and project

The Communication Research Institute is a leading research organisation worldwide. They wanted to investigate and measure how well ordinary monthly bank statements (like that come through your letterbox) work. 11 associates connected with the Communication Research Institute were contacted, and we all set about finding out how well these financial statements work. Typical diagnostic testing questions were: can people find and explain the opening/closing balances, can people find and explain how to avoid being charged interest, can people find and explain how to find more information.

We sourced a wide range of people to use as testing participants, and of different age ranges and abilities. We sourced a credit card statement, and then set users tasks to do, analysing what they could or could not do (diagnostic testing). We collected graphic communication performance evidence and data on the usability of the credit card statement. It is very valuable and gives the international banks concrete objective information about the health of their communications with customers, and highlights what is and what is not working well.

Original map design/cartography for a publication/report. Image shows city centre

Client

Leicester BID (Business Improvement District).

Item

Map showing the business improvement district area and key locations for their report/publication.

Short description of what we did for the client and project

The client needed a very detailed map of the area they were developing and proposing new ideas for.

A very clear, legible and in-keeping map (in relation to their website and overall corporate identity) was designed. We used the most legible weight of the typeface (neither too light or too bold) to ensure best legibility of road names, even when printed small on A4 paper. We added a grid over the map, to help users refer to and identify areas and locations more easily. The map was available in a range of formats, from print-ready files to PDFs (which can be made any size).

Norwich School of Art and Design/Norwich University of the Arts signage/wayfinding system proposal 1. Signs showing different levels
Signage proposal number 1.

 

Image of pictograms/icons for end of year exhibitions (Norwich School of Art and Design/Norwich University of the Arts). Pictograms ranging from graphic design, to games design

Pictogram proposal (for signage proposal number 1).

 

Norwich School of Art and Design/Norwich University of the Arts signage/wayfinding system proposal 1. Hand drawn signs in chalk on black paper, stretched across walls and entrances
Signage proposal number 2.

Client

Norwich School of Art and Design.

Items

Signage proposals and pictogram proposal.

Input

Signage design, technical illustration.

Short description of what we did for the client and project

With 1000s of visitors to the end of year exhibitions every year, many of them have no idea about where various rooms are, or where work is shown, in the many different buildings within the Norwich School of Art and Design. A signage and wayfinding system was needed and we were invited to submit proposals. We designed 2 unified and clear wayfinding systems to manage all buildings and on all campuses.

This 1st proposal is based more on clarity, precision and easily changeable signs. The system can be edited and updated with new locations and information, as well as being able to handle future information. A pictogram system to aid understanding and recognition of the different courses was also designed.

This 2nd proposal is based around the idea of signs being plastered and stuck along the walls of the buildings, eventually leading to the correct room. This signage system was designed to make it impossible to get lost, as there really is no splitting or distance between signs, it is just a continual marker.

Page 1 of Leicester BID form/questionnaire, the originally supplied design
Original form supplied by the client.
Page 2 of Leicester BID form/questionnaire, the originally supplied design
Original form supplied by the client.


Page 1 of Leicester BID form/questionnaire design, redesigned version
Redesigned version.
Page 2 of Leicester BID form/questionnaire design, redesigned version
Redesigned version.

Client

Leicester BID (Business Improvement District).

Item

Form/questionnaire.

Input

Form/questionnaire design, clear language.

Short description of what we did for the client and project

This town planning organisation wanted to use design to give their questionnaire form the best chance of collecting quality information, and collecting as much data as possible.

The original form from the client, was not particularly clear, it was boring and not enticing to read or use. We worked on the clarity and appeal of this inconvenient type of document, giving it much more of a chance of getting used, filled-in and returned back to the client with useful data. The original form had not large enough spaces to write responses, making it hard for people to interact with. We increased the space available to write in the form fields. We used clear language, editing and rewording, to maximise widespread understanding for as many people as possible.

Annual report design, page layout, typesetting and complex tables. Photograph of an inside spread showing complex financial tables

Annual report and financial statements photograph of an inside spread showing complex financial tables

Annual report and financial statements photograph of an inside spread showing complex financial tables

Dyslexia Institute annual report purple acetate overlay for dyslexic users at the back of publication

Annual report and financial statements design guide/specification

Client

Dyslexia Institute.

Item

Annual report and financial statements.

Input

Publication design, page layout and typesetting.

Details

6 column layout and tables. Purple acetate overlay feature at the end. Page size: A4: width 210mm × height 297mm. Pages: 70. Paper: Croxley Heritage Wove, ivory, 120g/m², 75% recycled. Binding: staple bound.

Short description of what we did for the client and project

This dyslexia organisation needed help with producing and designing a more professional annual report and financial statements than in previous years. Previously they had done the report in Word using amateur formatting and text composition, not enough space between many table columns on a single page, and a highly debatable typeface choice (Comic Sans).

The client wanted a highly accessible graphic communication design, we did this through the overall design, layout and typography, and also included in the back of the publication, a purple acetate overlay to further make the publication even more accessible (some people with dyslexia prefer and read better with an acetate overlay). The publication contained a mass of complex financial information which need designing and laying out clearly. We also were required to do manual decimal point alignment of all numerical data and used tabular lining figures. We put the report title at the bottom of all pages in the footer, and the section title at the top of the left and right pages in the running heads, so if people photocopy or save‑out individual PDF pages, they will always know which publication the page has come from. We researched, selected and sourced dyslexic-friendly off‑white/cream paper.

Note

When we did research in 2005 into the typographic requirements of people with dyslexia, there was conflicting advice ranging from handwritten typefaces, to serif, to sans serif. Due to new research released in 2006, we would not use Helvetica again for people with dyslexia. Contact us for designing for people with dyslexia.

Infographic for the paper: Information on different types of people for graphic communication, website and information designers. Shows statistics for the following types of people: Children, 4–12 years old, Teenagers, 13–19 years old, General people, 20–45 years old, Older adults, 60 years old+, Dyslexia, Vision impairment, Colour blindness, Arthritis, Text and numerical literacy, Digital literacy, Education level, Prior experience (knowledge level), and Psychology

Client

Usability Geek.

Item

Infographic and research.

Input

Text and statistical research, technical illustration and typography.

Version

March 2020.

Contribute

If you would like to suggest possible additions to the infographic, please do contact us.

Short description of what we did for the client and project

Here at User Design, Illustration and Typesetting, we wanted to raise awareness about different types of people and their different setups and needs. We are not seeking to label people, but want to understand the needs of people.

We researched and read through many research and academic papers gaining statistical data, which was of most use for designers when designing graphic communication. The infographic designed shows the data in its most simplistic and quickest form. Pictogram illustrations were used to help relate the different types of people to the statistical data. This infographic and statistics are also an ideal an partner for any website accessibility statement.

Link to the paper

This infographic accompanies our paper called Information on different types of people for graphic communication, website and information designers including free reusable infographic which was originally published on the Usability Geek website in February 2018, but can now be found on our Medium. It is freely reusable and copyright free. You can download the image as a PNG (image) or PDF.

3 results of information design by us

  • Good information design saves lives.
  • Information design is the best way to prevent furious users. Less calls to your telephone helpline or support email address because misunderstandings and difficulties have been substantially decreased.
  • Numerical data about how your intentions and design is actually working with people.