This final chapter was an excellent culmination of all that had been discussed in the book by providing us explanations of what fields these skills can lead to. Rather than summarizing all of the careers discussed, I want to focus on the ones that interest me specifically.
Editorial design definitely interests me. An editorial designer will work with a variety of other content creators (writers, illustrators, photographers, etc.) to combine assets into a final publication, whether it’s intended for a print or digital medium. In many editorial design positions, there is flexibility in styling due to the varying types of content and audiences, while other contexts, like magazine design, may remain more consistient. However, in all types of publications, the work is almost exclusively driven by the content.
A successful editorial designer needs to have a strong understanding of hierarchy, grid systems and typography, as much of the work is layout driven. They also need to have an “accurate eye for content correction, whether it’s grammar, color or mood.” Some of the trickier aspects of the job include the amount of coordination for deadlines with others, since content comes from a variety of places, as well as the amount of corrections and proofing and editorial piece will go through (happily enough, those are two things that actually really excite me, not just because of the challenge, but because I think they play to my strengths).
Another field discussed in this chapter was information design, which isn’t something I’ve ever really considered as an option for myself before, but only because I haven’t been exposed to it as much as editorial design. However, I was especially interested in this field because it relies heavily on combining a creative and analytical mindset by merging design and data. An information designer takes complicated data and visualizes it in a clear, concise and easy to understand way. Therefore, to be successful, an information designer needs to be incredibly cognizant of how information is perceived and processed, which requires a precise attention to detail. Like editorial design, information design is entirely content driven; however, it is less subjective than many other design fields, simply because it is dealing with such concrete data.
To understand anything, it’s important to take a look at its history, so I wanted to research how information design has evolved into what it is today. I found an excellent post on a Huffington Post blog that delved into the more recent history of the infographic and a look at where it might be heading next.
It’s no secret that information design is nothing new. Charts, maps, tables, graphs, etc. have been around for a pretty long time. However, the digital world has ushered in a new era in which more data is being passed through the hands of designers before it reaches the public. That’s not to say there aren’t beautifully designed information graphics from the past – this article included several notable examples from various times in the 20th century. More simply, it just means that the frequency in which data is presented in an intentionally designed way has increased, and that these pieces can be standalone pieces, rather than support pieces to editorial or educational writing.
This article mentioned several purveyors of information design in the publication world. Fortune was prominent from the 1930s-50s, when their detailed illustrations embodied the style of the time while still remaining incredibly informative in their details. In the 1980s, Time became notable for their information design when Nigel Holmes created a house style for information design, which allowed information to not just be functional, but also beautiful. Around the same time, USA Today launched, and their bright and bold information design began to set the stage for the role of the modern infographic. In these publications, the creative team saw the need for data to be beautiful to engage readers more successfully.
Now, infographics are everywhere, and so many of them have a designer’s touch on them. While information design isn’t particularly new, that doesn’t mean that it’s not fresh and exciting. In such a digital world, so much information available at our fingertips. That can be overwhelming, so information design is increasingly important to help learn even more.