The Art and Engineering of Information Design

Well-designed information is easy to digest, rich in flavor and quenches your intellectual appetite.Well-designed information aimed at a target audience combines right-brain and left-brain skills. It is a mix of artistry and engineering.

Designing information requires the precision of knowing what a specific audience is looking for and where that audience will look for it. Information design also requires the creativity of simplifying and packaging the message so it is striking and irresistible to view.

Connecting with a target audience isn't an accident or coincidence. It takes a strategic approach that includes solid research and a blank slate. Information designers leave their biases at the doorstep and let their audience's preferences guide what they say, how they say it and where they say it. This is the engineering dimension of information design.

Once information designers know the what, how and where of their messaging, they need to ignite their creative fires to produce the communications tools that do the job. That may involve devising a tantalizing tagline, showing a stark contrast or telling a story with a picture. The message may come in a blog, video or advertisement. The only rule of thumb is to make a connection between your brain and the brains of your audience.

It sounds profoundly simple to design information for a particular audience. In reality, it is remarkably hard. 

It is hard, in part, because we don't think about designing information. We think we know what our audience wants to know and we have favorite ways to share our message. That's better described as information indulgence.

Another information design obstacle is the fear you aren't creative enough to pull it off. In truth, you don't need to be a Photoshop wizard or graphic designer to design information effectively. There are many options for the creatively challenged to amaze and satisfy your audience. Those options range from stock photography, user-generated content, low-cost illustrators to desktop design programs, including the improbable PowerPoint, which may be the most intuitively easy graphic design engine around for everyday projects.

The best of information design comes through teamwork. More heads lead to more ideas and greater sensitivity to a wider range of possibilities. Creative impulses infect the entire team.

When successful, the ultimate product is communication that seems familiar, even obvious. The picture, chart or illustration delivers your message in an effortless, elegant manner. Information is easy to digest, rich in flavor and quenches your intellectual appetite.

Anyone can design information by applying the logic of your left brain to target your audience and the best channel to reach it and allowing your right brain free rein to choose the communications tool that connects with your audience. As research has shown, the best thinking comes when activating both sides of your brain.