I started my information design practice in the editorial world creating diagrams, information graphics, and information panels. In this context, I frequently encountered unintelligible and cluttered information design outputs: intended messages were not clearly communicated or were hard to understand. These ineffective outputs had major structural problems (e.g. display irrelevant information) and basic mistakes (e.g. ineffective colour use), but also reflected designers’ poor content understanding and arbitrary decision-making. This was my motivation to start my research journey.
Back in 2012, as part of my PhD, I developed MapCI Cards (Mapping Complex Information Cards), a tool to assist information designers during the initial steps of the design process (conceptual design). The cards were developed to provide support to experienced information designers and advanced students working on the creation of a diagrammatic solution (e.g. maps, information graphics, diagrams) by helping then:
- Analyse content
- Organise content
- Gain better content understanding
- Identify key subject areas
- Determine key types of information
- Determine information hierarchical structure
- Externalise thinking process
You can read more about the MapCI Cards here.
Testing the Cards!
During 2009 and 2012, I conducted both user and evaluation studies to develop the content and test the effectiveness of MapCI Cards in minimising the production of unintelligible and cluttered outputs.
Increasingly, information designers are facing more complex information challenges, and having to develop more rigorous ways to manage and make sense of complex and large amounts of content, often from various different sources. Having strong information management and conceptual design skills has become essential for the creation of effective solutions. MapCI Cards help information designers strengthening those skills by adding structure to the analysis process, and the organisation of content.
Based on learnings from my professional practice, my students, talks with colleagues and further research, I have revised the cards and in the next month or so I will be conducting further evaluations of a revised version of MapCI Cards.
If you are an information design student, educator or professional interested in:
- Learning key steps to create diagrams
- Understanding why your diagrams are not being understood
- Learning what makes a diagram a well-conceived and effective diagram
- Improving your information management skills
and would like to be part of the evaluation study of MapCI Cards, contact me.
(All participants will be given a deck of MapCI Cards)
Looking forward to hearing from you!