Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Project 3: Reading Responses

The Information Design Handbook Reading Response:

While I was already familiar to semiotics thanks to my design theory class, it was still useful to learn more about them using different terminology than what was used in my design theory class. The reading approached it in a more simplistic approach, which I found helpful, especially when I consider the signs I want to use in my project.

The study of signs, or rather semiotics, is useful for graphic designers as it informs our ability to interpret images or other sensory input. Knowing semiotics and our audience helps designers better choose the right signs to use in their work. When looking at both semiotics and our audience, we must think about context, culture, and personal experience, which all influence a sign’s connotative and denotative attributes. Signs can be broken down into three different categories: icons, indexes, and symbols.

Icons factually resembles a concept or idea. Rather, it is a literal visual representation of a concept or idea. An example of an icon would be a red heart, which allows the viewer to think about love or affection, or even perhaps think about health. Icons help the viewer derive meaning.

Indexes are representations that are perhaps more distant but still create a connection. The relationship between the sign and what it stands for is perhaps more obscure. It is also descriptive. An example of an index would include smoke which indicates fire.

Symbols are abstract representations. These signs are learned over time within a specific time and culture. An example of a symbol would be the recycle sign.

The reading also touched on multiple theories that could be utilized when designing something informational. While I found all of them to be useful, I really found the LATCH model to be the most pertinent to this next project for Content & Audience. It outlines a basic guideline for organizing information in such a way that is best for the user. The LATCH model stands for Location, Alphabet, Time, Category, and Hierarchy. All of these are ways in which a designer could group information content in such a way that makes sense to the user.

I gained a lot of useful tips from this reading and there are definitely several I intend to implement in my project. The first “quick tip” I would consider is providing a map, as it is the most efficient and easiest method of wayfinding for users. Users don’t ever want to feel lost and a map can be comforting as it is a way for them to orient themselves. I will definitely include a map in this next project because of this.

The next “quick tip” I would like to implement in my work is “don’t decorate, design.” This is always relevant no matter what you are designing, but it is especially important for informational design. Everything in informational design is crucial for the user and the user will look at is as informational, so if it has no purpose it is not relevant to the design. As such, I am hoping to keep my designs clean and concise, but deliberate.

The final “quick tip” is “don’t reinvent the wheel.” In other words, I am not going to make up my own symbols! This will only confuse the user and leave them extremely frustrated. As such, I will need to grow accustom to typical signs and icons that relate to my informational design.

The Laws of Simplicity Reading Response:

This reading outlines the ways in which you can avoid cluttered design, especially if you are working with a lot of information. Essentially, breaks down these ways through the use of the acronym, SLIP, which is a systematic step-by-step approach. SLIP stands for SORT, LABEL, INTEGRATE, and PRIORITIZE. Sort essentially means to sort out the information obtained into groupings. Next, label each grouping. The next step is to integrate, which means that when possible, create broader, overarching categories or groupings and combine some of the groups first made. The last step is to prioritize, which essentially means ranking information or groupings from greatest level of importance to the lowest level of importance in order to create hierarchy. This step-by-step process will be very useful as I obtain more and more information for this project.

“Squint at the world. You will see more by seeing less.” This quote really resonated with me. It’s a very simplistic tip, but one that can be incredibly useful when trying to organize information, all while maintaining a level of good design.

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