10 Information Design Topics that Need Clarity


Each of the 10 topics presented here aims to add clarity to the current information design situation, and maybe be a step towards finding the missing piece to solve the puzzle in which it seems to be immersed.

Countless information design articles and blog posts are written every day (too many to even name a few), prizes are given to award the quality of practice (e.g. Malofiej, IIID Awards, Information is Beautiful Awards), conferences are increasingly being organised by different institutions approaching the field from various angles (e.g. 2CO, Visualized, IDA Conference, Schematic Mapping Workshop, Design of Understanding), and ongoing online debates emerged daily in various social platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn). However, there are still too many blurred and unclear areas in information design which are made evident by the recurrent creation of ill-conceived solutions resulting from making the same basic mistakes. The lack of principles to inform information design practice, of robust and rigorous teaching programmes to provide a solid foundation to future generations, and of predetermined criteria for assessing quality to guide effective information design practice are some of the areas which deserve further attention. To make a little contribution to the current information design puzzle, I listed the top 10 topics that I consider need clarification and I will be addressing here in the coming months (or, if time permitted, in the coming weeks):

  1. Information design education: Challenges of current programmes

  2. Information design principles: Informed and supported decisions

  3. Information design challenges: Complex, simple, framed and unframed problems

  4. Information design awards: What is their contribution to practice and education?

  5. Information design content: Data, information & knowledge, processes

  6. Scientific information design: Qualitative research and social methods

  7. Information design terminologies: What do ID, IV, DV, IA, IM, VA… mean?

  8. Ongoing information design debates: Disciplinary condition, education and practice

  9. Re-educating clients: Why there is a demand for ill-conceived information design

  10. New technologies and specialised software: Their role in information design practice

The above list is just a starting point (because an exhaustive list could be endless), but why I thought about those topics first? Many of the topics in the list have emerged from enriching talks with other information designers and debates in conferences, others respond to students’ most common questions and concerns about information design practice. And another group of topics is related to ongoing discussions in the community I have come across in the last decade. Some topics are current and “hot,” some others are old and ongoing, but all of them are equally important for the consolidation of information design.

Hopefully, the more experienced information designers will find some of the topics from the list a revision of foundational principles and concepts, and others insightful, and the novices will find them helpful to illuminate basic aspects of the field in which they were unclear.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Data Viz News [35] | Visual Loop

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