information design

Information design and why it matters

Reading time: about 6 min

From brochures to booklets to manuals and more—information design helps you approach design projects more intentionally, with your audience in mind. It requires you to consider who your audience is, what they need to know, and how you can present that information so it’s easy to understand.  

What is information design?

Simply put, information design is the practice of making information accessible and easily understood by a target audience. It is a way of thoughtfully combining text, pictures, data, video, sound, etc., to tell a specific story.

Examples of information design

You can see information design everywhere you go. Here are just a few examples:

  • Textbooks and instruction manuals: This includes a wide range of printed or online guides for education, leisure, DIY home projects, hobbies, and more. These guides typically use a combination of text and graphics to walk you through specific steps to accomplish tasks.
  • Health and safety: This includes safety posters (instructions on washing hands, evacuation plans, etc.), medical ID bracelets that alert health workers to conditions you might have, brochures, medical apps, etc.
  • Infographics: Infographics are pieces of content where information is displayed mainly using visual elements like graphs, charts, diagrams, and photos. They typically involve only minimal text.
  • Navigational resources: From printed and digital maps, trail guides, escape plans, and beyond, navigational resources require thoughtful information design so users don’t get lost.
  • How-to videos: You can find a video demonstration on just about anything.  Whether you’re baking a cake, changing a tire, or tackling a DIY yard project, a quick search will help you gather useful information to get started.
  • Searchable information: If you’re in a physical store, many shopping apps can tell you which aisle an item is on, how many are in stock, and what the current price is. Search engines themselves are another type of information design.

Information design vs. data visualization

It may seem like information design, and data visualization is the same concept, and they do have some similarities—they both involve presenting information in a visual format to make it easier to read and understand. The main difference lies in the purpose of your presentation.

Data visualization

Data visualization is exactly what it sounds like—a visual representation of data you have collected. This includes graphs, charts, maps, or diagrams to make your audience's analysis easier. 

Information design

Information design takes data visualization to another level. It includes intentional elements like text, images, and colors to guide a target audience through a specific narrative. Information design is focused on addressing audience needs.

If you want to provide your audience with easily digestible data to analyze, use data visualization and let them draw their own conclusions. If you want to guide your audience through the information so they reach a specific conclusion, use information design.

Why information design matters

Information design helps make your information more visually appealing, increases audience engagement, and clarifies your message.

Good information design is also important for the following reasons:

  • It helps your audience understand complex information better than plain text. 
  • It improves communication by conveying your story accurately and more easily.
  • It gives your audience the information they need for better decision-making.
  • It grabs your attention, maintains interest, and tells your audience how you can help them.
  • It addresses individual needs and expectations.
  • It helps improve the overall user experience so your audience is more likely to engage with your brand in the future.

Principles of information design

The goal of information design is to present information in a more user-centric way. The following principles can help you to create user-centered designs that appeal to your target audience’s interests.

Understand your audience

This is one of the most important principles of a user-centric information design. To understand your audience, you need to do the following.

  • Define the problem: Define potential pain points and determine how your products can address them. This information helps you make better design decisions to lead your audience to a logical conclusion.
  • Empathize: Keep in touch with your audience to ensure that your message is meeting their expectations. Interacting with your audience helps you to understand their concerns.
  • Understand the experience level: Your audience might already engage with your brand. Knowing how they interact with your products helps you design a message emphasizing new features or products that will address their needs.
information design

Check out our target audience analysis template to take a closer look at who your audience is, so you can design your message to address their needs.

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Keep it simple and make it clear

Make your design clear and concise with an obvious structure. Don’t use more words than you need, and avoid complex jargon. Plain language, simple graphics, white space, and thoughtful colors are more inviting and easier to navigate than a busy, cluttered layout.

Organize and structure the information

Remember that you want to maintain audience engagement and make the information easy to understand. 

You can do this by arranging the information in a logical flow. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, call-outs, arrows, and other visual cues to emphasize the flow and to keep the audience from missing important information. 

And in a digital layout, you can provide links for those who want to dive deeper into your information, which keeps them engaged and wanting to learn more.

Be consistent

Maintain consistency with elements like colors, graphics, and fonts to make the design cohesive. This helps your audience to have a better, more predictable experience as they navigate your content.

Consider accessibility issues

You might want to keep audience accessibility in mind as you arrange your information and create your visual design. You’ll want to consider color contrasts, fonts and point size, and alternate text for graphics. You may even want to create a separate design for users with disabilities.

Create your information design

Ready to get started? The basic information design process is:

Step 1: Define your goals

Use what you know about your audience to define what needs to be done and address their problems. Lucidspark’s design sprint template can help you identify problems and set goals for addressing them. The thermometer goal tracker template helps you track progress toward those goals.

Step 2: Ideate

Bounce around ideas that address your audience’s needs and what type of design can present that information in a clear, appealing way. Our SCAMPER, mind map, and design thinking templates are all perfect for this phase. The following templates are great for your ideation phase.

Step 3: Prototype

Create a visual rough draft of your design, whether that’s a layout, a wireframe, or something else.

Our website wireframe template helps you lay out the elements of your design to test its flow and usability.

Step 4: Test your design

Share your design with stakeholders, management, and clients to collect feedback about what works and what needs to be adjusted.

Step 5: Release and refine

Keep in touch with your audience to ensure that you meet their needs. Update your information design as needed.

information design

Explore our free project planning templates to kickstart any initiative. 

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