In information design, every decision, from the content and organization to the visual language of the communication, should be intentional and centered on people and their needs: visual (or sensory), cognitive, cultural, emotional, and personal, among others. Hence, deep understanding of people is essential to make informed decisions. Regardless of project complexity or years of professional practice experience, insights directly gained from people will always enhance the quality and effectiveness of the final outcome.
For almost 30 years, several practitioners and academics have been stating the need for deliberate use of research to understand people – today commonly called human-centered research, their culture, and the context of use of an information design piece. However, in reality, many information designers still question the value of research or find it hard to integrate it into their daily practice. Likewise, many educators have to advocate for research to have equal attention as “visual design” in a class. These behaviors perpetuate a recurring phenomenon in information design practice: there is too much emphasis on the production of design outputs and too little attention paid to fundamental understanding of problems and people.
While some practitioners do conduct some form of research, this is mostly limited to testing a solution (or a rough prototype), but there is a lack of understanding about the broader role that research plays in the information design process. As information designers increasingly engage in cross-disciplinary, unframed projects gaining clarity of what research is, how to use it throughout the process, how to use it ethically, and how it informs content and design decisions has become imperative to develop effective interventions. That is, information design interventions that are user-friendly, effortless, and even intuitive to understand and interact with so that users can meet their needs and expectations.
Join me next week to talk about human-centered research for information design – I will answer questions on how to bring research into practice and how to integrate it into information design education. The session will be a dialogue, structured around your questions submitted in advance.
For example, you might ask specific questions: I’ve to create a visual explanation about quantum computing for children – how can I know where I should focus on or what concepts are harder for them to understand? I’ve developed icons for a multicultural venue – how can I be sure they’ll be understood? I’m working on information about a medical treatment but can’t get access to real patients – how can I work around this? How many people do I need to recruit to test a new app I’ve designed?
Or you might have more general questions about research: What is human-centered research? How does it differ from market research? What should I do first? Can I do research with just five people? How should I recruit participants? How can I collect data? There is not enough time to do research! What is a theme? What is coding? How does coding lead to themes? How do I interpret the results?
Thursday May 4th – 11 am New York
This session is part of IIID Conversations series organized by International Institute for Information design (IIID).