Tag Archives: Information design

Colour in Information Design

« The eye is exquisitely sensitive to patterns in variations in color, shape and pattern. It loves them, and it calls them beautiful. It’s the language of the eye. If you combine the language of the eye with the language of the mind, which is about words and numbers and concepts, you start speaking two languages simultaneously, each enhancing the other. So, you have the eye, and then you drop in the concepts. And that whole thing — it’s two languages both working at the same time. »

 David McCandless, TED Global presentation, 2010

The quote from David McCandless makes a lot of sense as nowadays we are overloaded with too much of information. In order to treat all these information so that we can digest it, one solution could be information design or information visualization. It is the transformation of information into image rather than texts. The use of simple chart can show pattern that could have remained invisible.


Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8381597.stm

This infographics was designed by David McCandless representing the earnings and spendings of the USA. Each rectangular shape represents sector in the US economy. The rectangles have been colour coded to ease comparison, for example blue represents the earning. Thus, these figures have more meaning when grouped together and displayed graphically rather than just listing them and are easier to find correlations.


McCandless, David (2010) Information is Beautiful, London: Collins

McCandless, David (2010) Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia, London: Harper Design

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Historical Context (Information Design)

Information design has been used since the existence of men. Some 40 000 years ago, information was communicated on wall cave using paintings. On this page are the most influential of information design or data visualisation in history comprising of Florence Nightingale with her ‘Diagram of Cause of Mortality’ (1857), Charles Minard’s Map of Napoleon’s Army’s Russian Campaign (1861) and Henry Beck’s Map of London Underground (1933).

Florence Nightingale: ‘Diagram of Cause of Mortality’ (1857)


Available at http://daily.captaindash.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Nightingale-mortality.jpg

Florence Nightingale had discovered that the majority of deaths in the Crimea were due to poor sanitation rather than casualties in battle. She wanted to persuade government for the need of better hygiene in hospitals.

She realised that just by looking at the numbers was unlikely to impress ministers. But once those numbers were translated into a picture  her ‘Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army in the East’,  the message could not be ignored.

The circle is divided into 12 sectors representing the months of the year. All sectors are measured from the centres.

Red represents number of deaths from war injuries

Blue represents number of deaths caused by diseases due to poor sanitation

Black represents number of death due to other causes.

Charles Minard’s Map of Napoleon’s Army’s Russian Campaign (1861)


Available at http://oak-tree.us/images/Poster3-Napoleon.png

Charles Minard’s Map illustrates the movement of the army for the Napoleon’s Army’s Russian Campaign. It principally showed the spectacular decline in the number of men, from 422 000 to 10 000, in the army from the start of their journey and their way back. The illustration also showed four other variables altogether which were latitude and longitude, direction of movement, dates and temperature.

Henry Beck’s Map of London Underground (1933)


Available at http://www.geocities.ws/lhsoicher/images/1933a.jpg

Henry Becks, an electrical engineer, used only horizontal, vertical and 45 degrees coloured lines to draw the London Underground railway network showing all the stations along routes and intersecting stations between routes. The distance between stations has been evened as commuters are interested to know the next and preceeding stations on a route. Beck’s map has been very successful and it is being used worldwide today.


Mernagh, Michael (2012) Significance Magazine: Statistics making sense. Availabe at http://www.significancemagazine.org/details/webexclusive/2038005/Napoleons-Russian-Campaign—200-years-on.html [Accessed 10 Novenber 2012]

Woodbury, Henry (2008) Dynamic Diagrams: Designing for Understanding. Available at http://dd.dynamicdiagrams.com/2008/01/nightingales-rose/ [Accessed 10 Novenber 2012]

Cawley, Laurence (2012) London Underground map gets curves in lecturer’s design. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-19546145 [Accessed 11 Novenber 2012]

Tufte, Edward (2007) The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Connecticut: Graphics Press.

Iliinsky, Noah and Steele, Julie (2011) Designing Data Visualizations, USA: O’Reilly Media Inc.

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Mind Mapping – Information Design

A mind mapping was done on the keyword after preliminary research. This is important to identify all the important aspects to be considered with information design. This exercise would help me to respect all the features while designing my artefact.

Mind mapping

The key aspects identified in the mind mapping are:

  1. Purpose: The purpose or the objective of the information design or infographics must be clear and precise. The purpose can be multiple or single which is to inform, educate, sensitise, comparison of data, highlighting a trend.
  2. Target audience: The design has to be adapted to the target audience. Audience can be for a certain age group, general public, categories of working people.
  3. Data: data is available in various forms such as time, statistics, spatial. In information design interpretation and display of data is very important as very often complex data has to be represented clearly in a limited space.
  4. Visual communication system: Gathered information has to be analysed, classified, established relationships.
  5. Contents: The contents will depend on the chosen topic for the data visualization. It can contain texts, charts, images, timeline and maps
  6. Medium: The chosen medium can be static, motion or interactive
  7. Aesthetics: The design has to be aesthetically pleasing for the viewer. Therefore chosen colour has to be both functional and pleasing, the chosen type has to be easy to read
  8. Characteristics: The information displayed must have an easy flow, easy to digest, simplified, easy comparison of information.


Tufte, Edward (2007) The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Connecticut: Graphics Press.

Iliinsky, Noah and Steele, Julie (2011) Designing Data Visualizations, USA: O’Reilly Media Inc.

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Keyword: Information Design

My chosen keyword for FAT1 practice module is information design.  Information design or data visualization are often related to infographics.

My interest in information design is mainly due to its pedagogical aspect, that is, to explain, to inform or to educate on a given issue using a combination of data, texts and visuals and to represent complex information quickly and clearly.

For my SAT1 annotated bibliography, I have studied key texts and articles on data visualization which was very helpful in having a better understanding of the keyword.

I would further investigate on information design to deepen knowledge on the subject matter.