envisioning information: escaping the flatlands

by Edward R. Tufte

After the first thirty-five pages, I’m left with a desire to find a connection between design and information. Today, I met with a web site consultant for the University Catholic Center, my employer. If you visit the homepage of the UCC, it conveys a lot of information (we’ll ignore that it isn’t quite up to date and some of the links return 404s). However, the design is not up to par in terms of easy navigation and use.
One of the important roles of a web designer is to determine a way for the content (information) to be displayed in the best manner according to the objective of that content. For example, a “STOP” sign is big, red and a shape that is not used for any other sign. From hundreds of meters away, you know what content the sign is intended to convey.
If that sign was instead was of a common rectangle shape, white with black lettering and said “ALL TRAFFIC MUST COME TO A COMPLETE STOP”, like sign R3-7L, the “LEFT LANE MUST TURN LEFT” sign, the driver would not be able to determine exactly what he is required to do until he was quite close to the sign.
Likewise, early stop signs nearly were not as readable as the ones today and the Federal Highway Administration is constantly working to improve typefaces on road signs. (Have you noticed the new signs popping up around Texas with the new font?).
In relation to the book, the display of information on roadways have adapted over the years to reflect the purpose of the information. The use of colors, 3D attempts, charts and graphs have all added to our understanding of information. The design of the information tool greatly impacts the ability of information to be shared and understood.







One response to “envisioning information: escaping the flatlands

  1. Stefan Smagula Avatar
    Stefan Smagula

    Glad you are finding some applications for information design theory so quickly. Once you begin to study this field, you’ll see that all living creatures depend on information to survive. Deer need to know where to find food and water, plants gather information about the direction and duration of the sun, even yeast cells seek information about other yeast cells in order to sexually reproduce (it seems they release a chemical similar to pheromones). And humans, many of us, are busy seeking information about our next job or career.

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