Finding the optimal arrangement of information is something that designers always have to consider when trying to solve a problem. Unfortunately, achieving a layout that both looks good and communicates complex information is no simple task. A single graphic product must serve many masters- it, of course, has to look good, but that’s simply not enough when the goal of the piece might be to illustrate a complex process to an uninformed audience, or to communicate a large amount of information in a compact way.
Fortunately, there are ways to make this easier for us designers. I am beginning to think I might be very interested by information design, as the subject matter the designer often deals with in the average info design project is much more rigid than other sorts of communication the designer might have to engage in, since consumers and clients demand rapid ingestion and processing of information. This means that special care and tactics must be used when presenting large quantities of information, or when presenting information that could be better represented in visual means.
Killer Infographics, based out of Seattle, is a wonderful purveyor of successful information design. In addition to being champions of representing information in a visual capacity, they also make badass infographics. Here’s an infographic they created about expenditures in the film, The Wolf of Wall Street:
This infographic succeeds in many departments. It’s designed well, incorporating a consistent color scheme and illustration style that is reminiscent of the time period that The Wolf of Wall Street deals with. It’s also conceptually easy to grasp, since all it requires of the reader is to compare two points of data with each “X or Y” statement. The repetitive illustrations help readers establish equivalence and meaning thru comparison in a very immediate way.
The visual context of the poster allows readers to understand what the infographic is really talking about: Expensive things, and what they could have been put to use as instead. Ultimately, the infographic serves the client’s goals by getting viewers interested in the film, and at the end, the graphic invites viewers to watch the film on the provided service.
Let’s take a brief look at the other side of the information design universe: Pragmatic info design.
Monoprice Shipping Label
Although massively different than the jazzy piece by Killer Infographics, the classic shipping label has to achieve communication with the viewer in a similar fashion. The designers (and perhaps engineers and administrators) did what they had to to make this label cheap, effective, and efficient, which I think they’ve achieved. Their logotype fits in well with the cheap black and white printing method, and the information, while difficult to represent visually, has been laid out carefully and precisely as to not confuse viewers and customers.