What is information design? Guidelines to good information design on the web

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What is information design? Guidelines to good information design on the web.
To create a truly successfull website you need to look into web usability in an early stage. Web usability includes interaction design + information design + graphic design. But what is information design? Follow these guidelines to create good Information design on the web:

What is information design? Guidelines to good information design on the web

 

What is information design (on the web)?

Information design is basically how you organize and display information on the web to make it avalable and easy accessible to users. Good information design let’s the user find and understand the information they are looking for without effort. A news website, tourist information, a government website or an online encyclopedia are all good examples of websites based on large amounts of information. Information design can also be graphic, like the subway map.

 

How can I improve the information design on my website?

If you are running a website based on large amounts of information, or any small website for that matter, you need to pay attention to the information design! Here are some guidelines to create good information design:

Planning

  • Determine the goal and purpose of your website and who your target audience is.
  • Plan the architecture of the website to get a good overview. Step 1 is a sitemap to identify different kinds of pages and how they should all connect. This will also reveal user workflows and give you an idea of possible navigation / menus. Keep workflows short and effective, with as few steps as possible. A basic sitemap might look something like this:
    What is information design? Guidelines to good information design on the web
  • Next is a wireframe, a simple sketch of the actual content placement and structure of each page. You only need one sketch of each page template. A basic WF might look something like this:
    What is information design? Guidelines on how to create good information design on the web

Organize

  • Prioritize your content. Target the most important information and make it extra accessible and available to visitors.
  • Organize your information thoughtfully. Try grouping and categorizing content in an effective maner, for example : “African animals” might be the top level followed by Reptiles > Snakes > Black Mamba. You could also organize information alphabetical, numerical or by date depending on content. Use as few top level options as possible not to confuse and overwhelm users.
  • Add a search function to your website. If free text input is not enough, also add autocomplete, dropdowns, checkboxes or radiobuttons to help the user further.
  • Consider displaying some of the information with graphics if more suitable? It is easier and quicker to understand an image than large amounts of text.
  • Let the user take control. When a user actively chooses to “read more” they are more open and willing to actually do so. Maybe you don’t need to show all content at once?

Menus

  • Large amounts of content requires well planned menu structures. Maybe you need several menus and submenus to organize your content? Maybe one menu holds standard navigation links like “contact”, “about” and “search”, and a second menu holds top level categories which are holding submenu categories and so on…

Text

  • Always keep all text as short and useful as possible and avoid large text blocks.
  • Most people don’t read the whole article. Most people quickly skim throught the content to find the information they are looking for. Have this in mind.
  • Put a describing heading, a quick summary and assets on the top of the page to make it easy for users to understand and get hold of the content.
  • Use clever headings / subheadings to help users find the information.
  • Highligt important parts to make them easy to find.
  • Use lists, demarcations, quotes, charts and graphics to illustrate and put focus on important content.

What is information design? How to create good information design on the web - guidelines

  • Use fonts that are easy to read in contrasting colors. Sans-serif type fonts for all text blocks.
  • Don’t use too small font sizes.
  • Use calm backgrounds. Avoid hard or crazy colors or cluttered pattern backgrounds.
  • Use clever and clear text on buttons/links. If you were looking for an apartment to rent, which link would you click:
    – Living places
    – Apartments & houses
    – Apartments for rent

 

 

More articles on web usability:

Good web usability is a combination of information design, interaction design and graphic design. Learn more:

Web usability – Understanding the term web usability and grasp the basics
Interaction Design – Improve the visitor interaction & workflows to create great user experience
Graphic design / Webdesign – Enhance the brand, clarify content & give the visitor feelings of wanting or belonging etc.
Communication Design – How to communicate your brand for example in social media channels

 

 

 

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