We live in an environment overloaded with information. Our environment is supposed to keep us informed through signs and instructions. However, the way most information is presented is messy. The signs that are supposed to help us end up confusing us, and the signs that are clear usually end up looking ugly.
I’ve gotten two parking tickets. My first ticket came from paying the wrong meter because it wasn’t clearly marked. The other one happened because the meter failed to process my credit card number through their parking app on my iPhone. I’m not here to complain about my parking tickets, but rather to point out how bad information design can cause errors in communication.
Everyone can create information products without knowing anything about the subject. It’s time for us to put a stop to this and clean up the mess. We want to see things that aren’t complicated. We want information and beauty at the same time.
Here’s how I think we can make it right:
1. Work With the Experts
You can’t come up with good solutions without understanding the intricacies of the problem. A graphic designer needs to know the issue to craft the best solution. A designer can create a solution that looks prettier than the current one, but if the product doesn’t solve the problem it will just create a bigger mess.
2. Survey and A/B Test
Sometimes the opinions of experts can be off base. It’s best to test our solutions before we ship them off into the real world.
3. Refine the Solution
If the solution is working, how can we enhance it? We have to always keep in mind that the objective of information design is to maximize the solution first and design later. Always be picky with your design.
4. Repackage Solutions
Solutions come from the people we work with but they can also come from things that inspire us. Don’t be afraid to solve problems with old solutions. Some of them still work today.
5. Keep it Simple
If a solution needs more than two sentences to describe it, it fails. Don’t overwork things or feel that it needs to touch too many points. Less is more.
6. Be Creative and Have Fun
Don’t get limited by any possibilities that may or may not work. Sometimes the silliest solution works the best.
Combining these suggestions does not necessarily guarantee a successful information product, but they should at least help us attempt to make the world a little less complicated.
I’ll leave you with this quote to from Bureau Oberhaeuser that I think sums up the issue nicely:
“Life without information is impossible. But it needs someone to filter the mass of information around us and turn it into something readable and usable. We are that someone.”