Information design

Ben Fry's zipdecode and anemone: Visualization apps

A friend and I were surfing Ben Fry's site today, where we played with these interesting visualization experiments.

zipdecode (requires Java), a nice little visualization tool that Fry created to learn how the zip code system works in the U.S. When it loads, click on the map to activate it and start typing the first numbers of zip codes one at a time. Would be nice if it also included a way to zoom in to understand what geographic area (state/town boundaries) you are looking at.

anemone (requires java) is an example of organic information design that gives a visualization of the changing structure of a web site, juxtaposed with usage information.

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Site

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Sites by Alison J. Head [via InfoDesign (Peter J. Bogaards)], a good article on personas, showing more than telling, with good example personas and a brief case study using BBCi.

Includes pointers, necessary details, and a tutorial featuring a well-explained example.

International Institute of Information Design

From Beth Mazur

The International Institute for Information Design,
informationdesign.org and a variety of interested
stakeholders in the ID community are coming together
to increase the relevance and awareness of
Information Design through a variety of
yet-to-be-finalized tactics.

This survey is intended for people interested in
volunteering their time or resources to the
Information Design community, or who want to
suggest other people or organizations that
might participate.

Now while I might disagree with some of the overarching themes coming from some ID folks, I think that overall the intentions of these folks are completely in line with the general user experience community, and wish the Institute all the best.

Information Design: The Understanding Discipline

Information Design: The Understanding Discipline - There is not consensus on exactly what information design is. Definitions of the discipline from stakeholders who associate themselves with the field are consistent only in that they are typically high level, not very concrete and do not offer much in the way of direct practical application.

Kneymeyer makes the "Information Design" as uber-discipline argument in a more polished way than when we first covered the discussion over at IDblog. While I completely agree that there needs to be a vision holder, I really don't think that it's in ID's best interest to claim that. And finally, what Dirk is calling "information design" I think is far better served being called "experience design"...

Notes from 2 by Two conference

Dirk Kneymeyer shares his notes from the invite-only 2 by Two conference at the IIT Institute of Design. Lots of bright people talking about the future of design.

Knemeyer on Information Design

Dirk Knemeyer writes a great primer on Information Design and how it relates to Web design and development.

From the article:

More than its value to business, information is also the principle component to human knowledge and progress. By experiencing information -- through any of the available senses -- people are able to build knowledge. Particularly when the information is relevant and good, people are able to make better decisions, to be more effective, to be happier and to increase their well-being.

(Via Digital Web)

One title to rule them all, one title to bind them....

Well, over on Beth Mazur's IDblog Dirk Knemeyer suggests that information design should assume a director role over all the other disciplines in a project and that IA isn't a discipline, but a tactical practice. Hope he wore asbestos undies ;-)

Seriously, I'm not sure that one can argue for ID, IA, or interaction design as the 'director' without also making the case for the other two disciplines. Experience Architecture or Design seems a better fit for said director role. I've said more to that effect in the comments on Beth's blog.

(thanks Gunnar)

Poynter Online: The Art of Explanation

Poynter has started a site to show infographics created by journalists covering the war. Much as I dislike the subject matter and war in general, the idea of getting the designers and journalists to explain how they developed the infographics is a great educational tool. More about the site:

The Art of Explanation showcases the efforts of visual journalists as they help readers find clarity. This is a place to share ideas and processes to improve the credibility and necessity of information graphics.

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