Information Design Post #6

In this class, I’ve challenged myself to look at the stupidly simple information design in my life – so that I can think about how I interact with even the most basic information, and work my understanding up from there. As such, the example from my life that I chose this week is the room scheduling sheets that are up in the art center. These have been some of the most important pieces of information during my time as an art student, and I use them constantly. So now I’m asking: what works, and what doesn’t? The vertical calendar, breaking it up by day, definitely works. With a quick glance I can see what is blocked out, and what isn’t. But I’m not sure the hierarchy is quite right to convey the information most effectively. My first read is the text, not the blocks. A simple fix to that would be to add shading to the block and/or making the type smaller. 95% of the time I’m looking at these sheets, I just need to know if the room is available, not what class is meeting there, so adjusting that hierarchy would assist with that.

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Looking at these sheets individually helps if you need a specific room. But what if you just need a space in the art center, not a particular one? It seems overly complicated to have to go to from one room to another just to mentally compile that information. So why not aggregate all of the room availability information into one visual, to be placed near the entrance of the art center? This raises the question of how data is represented. Both of these visualizations use the same set of information. But they’re presented in different ways, because they’re answering different questions. So then, that just means as information designers, we need to anticipate multiple questions our audience might be asking, and let our design follow suit.

On a completely different subject, the found information design I’m drawing from this week relates to the best part of the year: Girl Scout Cookie season – and where the cookies come from. This informational article & video on the Los Angeles Times explains a pretty big component of cookie season: the fact that the cookies are made in two different bakeries. I was drawn to this example because it handles a lot of different kinds of information – and not just the kind that can be quantified or represented in explicit statistics.

First, the article presents a map, showing which bakery supplies which areas of the country. It’s quickly color codified, and the colors are used consistently throughout the rest of the information. This information is straightforward.

But then the information becomes less statistical, as it begins comparison between the cookies from each bakery. There’s actual pictures of the cookies to show the differences, flavor profiles, and then pure data comparison for things like nutritional values and cost per cookie.

A final piece in this package is a video doing real life taste comparisons between the two bakery’s cookies. What was particularly notable about this video for me, though, is that it continued to use the same color codification throughout, which made the whole package incredibly cohesive.

This information design doesn’t contain a lot of meat – but it’s definitely interesting and engaging, and does provide an educational message. After all, you’re not going to think about what Girl Scout cookies you’re missing as you’re chowing down on the ones available in your own area.

works cited:

Lin II, Rong-Gong, Jon Schleuss, and Rosanna Xia. “6 Girl Scout Cookies You Thought You Were Getting but Aren’t.” Graphics.latimes.com. LA Times, 4 Mar. 2015. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. <http://graphics.latimes.com/girl-scout-cookies/&gt;.

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