There is no agreed upon definition of exactly what information design is. Consider these definitions of information design, taken from a broad cross-section of authorities associated with the field:
- Complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency.
- The point of intersection between language disciplines, art and aesthetic disciplines, information disciplines, communication disciplines, behavior and cognition disciplines, business and law and media production technologies.
- The structure through which visual disciplines are expressed.
- Contributed to by writers, researchers, aestheticians, popularizers, collectors, inventors, systematizers and analysts, as well as universalists.
- The defining, planning and shaping of the contents of a message and the environments it is presented in with the intention of achieving particular objectives in relation to the needs of users.
- How we interact with and represent information.
- A design that supports the goals of the user and the creator.
Information design is associated with a broad range of fields. Professions such as graphic designers, writers and information architects are all relatively associated with the designing of information. Writers typically provide written solutions to information, while a graphic designer will convey information through visuals.
Information designers tackle complex information problems to provide the consumer with the utmost understanding and success. It is important that the final product provides the greatest level of understanding possible. Information designers must be knowledgeable of the consumers’ understanding of the information that they are presented with. Factors such as how consumers react to information and consumer behavior, as well as being knowledgeable about the audience in general, are advantageous resources to any information designer, as they can learn from their research and therefore will be able to present the best possible information in the best way. Irrespective of the job-title they may hold or the field in which they may work, the main concern of an information designer is to communicate information in the most effective way possible. Such a broad description is the reason why professionals holding different job-titles in different fields of work are all able to refer to themselves as information designers.
Education and Skills
In order to become an information designer, a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field such as Advertising, Graphic Design, English, Computer Science, Journalism or Communication is strongly recommended. Pairing a degree with a minor in a more specialized field such as Web Design, for example, is also recommended.
Information Design requires a large set of multidisciplinary skills, such as:
- Writing skills
- Graphic Design skills
- Instructional Design skills
- Formatting/Editing skills
- Web Programming skills
- Research skills
- Analytical skills
- Attention to Detail
- Knowledge of Consumer Experience
Employment for persons in the field of information design is expected to grow nearly 17% over the next 10 years from 2010 to 2020. The projected job growth is being fueled by the expansion of technical and scientific products, as well as the increased prevalence of Web-based product support. The growing reliance on sophisticated scientific products and programs, both at home and at the workplace, combined with the complexity of these products that are necessary for everyday life, has increased the public’s need for clear and effective communication provided by information designers.
In May of 2010, the median pay for a general information designer was $63,280. However, how much an information designer earns depends upon the field that they work in, their job-title, their experience in the field, and of course the company that they are designing information for. In the same time period, the lowest 10% of information designers earned less than $37,160, whereas the top 10% of information designers earned above $100,910.
As you can see, the broad definition of information design and information designers leads to an even broader range of income.
Related Career Paths
Dirk Knemeyer (2003). Information Design: The Understanding Discipline. [ONLINE] Available at: http://boxesandarrows.com/information-design-the-understanding-discipline/. [Last Accessed 20 February 2013].
Doug Talbott. What is Information Design? [ONLINE] Available at: http://online-learning.com/blog/what-is-information-design-2/. [Last Accessed 18 February 2013].
Jared M. Spool (2008). Four Essential Skills for Information Architects: An Interview with Donna Spencer. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.uie.com/articles/ia_essential/. [Last Accessed 18 February 2013].
Paul Mijksenaar (1997). Visual function: An introduction to information design. [ONLINE] Available at: http://books.google.com/books?id=Pf28oOp5qBwC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0 [Last Accessed 26 February 2013].
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics â€“ Technical Writers [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Media-and-Communication/Technical-writers.htm [Last Accessed 24 February 2013].