Information Design by R. Horn

Information Design

Horn, R. (1999). Information Design. In Jacobsen, R. (Ed.), Information Design, pp. 15–33. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Information design is defined as the art and science of preparing information so that it can be used by human beings with efficiency and effectiveness. Its primary objectives are:

1. To develop documents that are comprehensible, rapidly and accurately
retrievable, and easy to translate into effective action.
2. To design interactions with equipment that is easy, natural, and as
pleasant as possible.
3. To enable people to find their way in three-dimensional space with comfort and ease—especially urban space, but also, given recent developments, virtual space.

From a historical perspective, many people contributed to the development of information design. The individuals included: inventors, Systemizers and Analysts, Universalists: individuals have hoped that purely visual communication, without the use of words, could become an international auxiliary language; Collectors, Writers of Instruction Manuals, Aestheticians, Popularizers, Researchers, and The British In formation Design Society.

Information design can be thought of as the professionalization of another communication phenomenon: the emergence of a new language. Visual language is defined as the tight coupling of a words, images, and shapes into a unified communication unit (Horn 1998). Visual language has emerged just as other languages have—by people creating it and speaking it. Along with information design, visual language has also developed rapidly in the past decade because of the personal computer and, especially, the widespread availability of computer graphics programs—software that allows the user to draw, paint, and present quantitative information in chart form. In many ways, practitioners of information design have been the inventors and first users of visual language. They have helped it spread. And, as visual language has become democratized into what some now call our visual culture, many people have realized that there is a great need for more professionalized information design.

Ultimately, as our technological world increases with additional ways of displaying visual languages, we find ourselves truly needing a greater understanding and standardization of information design. In a world where many people get their information form online sources, we need to consider how our information is designed, regardless of whether we are creating a one page document on how to add fractions, to a multi- tiered web based training session on calculus. He we design these different forms of communication wil impact our audience and future learners to come.

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