Inforaphics as an Information Design Tool

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Infographics – Overview

Information graphics or Infographics is a term that refers to a number of different types of visual aids that can be used to express information. The use of graphics to convey information has the capacity to transform our understanding of an issue and, to some extent, free us from the narrowness of words, labels, and classification systems. Infographics is not a new concept; it has been around since the beginning of history, and cave paintings created by early humans could be considered the very first instances of infographics.  Infographics are used in all sorts of environments and places, and are an important element in determining what certain things mean. The various types of infographics that can be used include, but are not limited to, pictures, graphs, diagrams, charts, lists, maps, and tables. Which infographics will work best for a particular project, of course, will depend on what kind of information needs to be relayed.

 infographic examples

Tools for Creating your own Infographics

Several on-line infographics creators, such as Infogr.am, Piktochart and Easel.ly have been launched in 2012. These sites allows users to create infographics from pre-designed templates, add custom data and share infographics and charts on the web or download as pictures for placing in presentations. Infogr.am is a free service that generates interactive, javascript based online infographics and charts. Piktochart is a site that allows users to create infographics using pre-defined themes that allow some customization. Users can export an image of their infographic when they are done. Free access is limited, but a paid subscription allows users to create more infographics and utilize many more themes. Easel.ly is another free infographic creation site utilizing themes. Users have a canvas that they can drag themes and customizable graphics onto in order to personalize the look of their infographic.

Infographics Implemented in My Blog

Since I have began blogging, I have implemented the use of infographics in all of my posts in order to convey large amounts of information or deeper meaning. Take for instance the infographic at the top of a page. Without reading the text in the blog, you can look at this image and in just a few seconds understand what infographics are, why they are beneficial, and where they can be used to add value to information documents.

References:

Arafah, Bima. “Huge Infographics Design Resources: Overview, Principles, Tips and Examples.” Onextrapixel. Onextrapixel.com, 21 May 2010. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. <http://www.onextrapixel.com/2010/05/21/huge-infographics-design-resources-overview-principles-tips-and-examples/&gt;.

Michelle. “What Infographics Are and Why They’re Important for Websites.” Web log post.Get A Coder. Getacoder.com/, 1 Mar. 2012. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. <http://www.getacoder.com/blog/?p=3868&gt;.

Jacobson, Robert E. Information Design. Cambridge: MIT, 1999. Print.

Information Design Process

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Process Stages

The first stage of the process of Information Design begins with a period of discovery. Preliminary questions should be asked to adequately develop a strategy for the information design project. Some basic questions include: Who is the target audience? What type of content is needed? When will the information be used? Where should the information appear? Why is the information needed? How should the information be presented?

The second stage is to create and present a creative brief. A creative brief is a short document that runs approximately anywhere from 1 to 10 pages, that outlines important information such as the project’s background and goals. A typical creative brief breaks down information into four general categories: client information, project information, project goals and requirements, and project logistics. The purpose of putting together a creative brief is to communicate pertinent information and to make sure that everyone is on the same page as the project moves forward. In addition, the brief can spark creativity and get ideas flowing. (Baer, Pgs. 50-52)

The third stage in the process is to determine personas and scenarios. “A persona is a brief profile of a typical user that outline attributes, desires, needs, habits, and capabilities” (Baer,58). Personas provide a touchstone for the project team to make sure that design choices are aligned with user needs and expectations. If the target audience encompasses many kinds of users, information designers will need to create a series of personas that reflect the range in audience types. Most projects require anywhere between 3 to 5 personas. One personas are in place, creating scenarios where these specific users interact with the information design in question, aids in identifying specific patterns and helps to confirm that the design will satisfy the needs of the target audience. (Baer, Pgs. 58-62)

In the final stage of the information design process involves developing prototypes of the information design product and testing it on practice audiences. Like a blueprint, a sitemap or a wireframe is a necessary tool for outlining all project components before designing the final product. These are just two examples of prototypes that can be used for testing the design concepts. Depending on the project’s needs and stage, various types of tests can be used, such as concept tests, participatory design, design testing, focus groups, usability testing, beta testing and performance testing (Baer, Pgs. 86-87). Testing throughout the design development cycle ensures that the design becomes more and more focused toward getting it right (Baer, Pg 76).

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Information Design Process Implemented in My Blog

I have performed all of these steps in preparing for this blog post. In the first stage, I read and examined the requirements of the assignment and did some research on the topics. I asked myself questions like: what type of content should I include: how long should my post be, who is my target audience, etc., in order to better plan for the post. I then created an outline (or a brief) of what content I wanted to include, and what I wished to accomplish: to giving people an uncomplicated and general understanding of the information design process that they will enjoy and find interesting. I developed personas (i.e. my classmates and instructor, and other Information Design students) in order to better understand the needs of the user/viewer of my content so that I can design the information accordingly. This post is my prototype, which I will continually make modifications to in order to make the post perfect. I am performing design testing by evaluating the comments and critiques of my classmates on my work.

Reference:

Baer, Kim, and Jill Vacarra. Information Design Workbook: Graphic Approaches, Solutions, and Inspiration 30 Case Studies. Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2008. Print.