What is Information Design?

Often times when delving into the true definition of some subject I like to divide the complete phrase and look at the definition of its components. Simply put, the answer to the question “What is Information Design” can somewhat easily be learned by studying the definitions of the two words that make it up:

As defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary:

  •  Information: knowledge obtained about someone or something: facts or details about a subject
  • Design: to conceive or execute a plan; to draw, lay out, or prepare

 So…Tom Fredericks paraphrase yields: To conceive, draw, or prepare facts or details about a specific subject.

In his book Information Design, Robert Jacobson defines information design as “the art and science of preparing information so that it can be used by human beings with efficiency and effectiveness” (Jacobson, 1999, p. 15) Furthermore, he adds that one of its primary objectives is to help make human interactions with equipment as easy and natural as possible.

Information design goes beyond aesthetics and endeavors to articulate information to a target audience, leading them to a more efficient, effective and complete understanding of the information. In my opinion a primary goal of information design is to avoid being one-dimensional in an effort to reach your audience who might very well think and process information differently than you. Information design captures the true sentiment found in the old adage “A picture is worth more than one-thousand words”.