Technical Editing & Production



Foundational concepts week 1

Design is a skill, not something than anyone can do by following a recipe. Learning that skill amounts to learning not only what the design guidelines are but also how to recognize which rules to follow in each design situation." - Jeff Johnson from Designing with the Mind in Mind, 2010


What Is Information Design-- Redish

Kimball & Hawkins -- Chap 1. What is Document Design

Kimball & Hawkins -- Chap 2. Principles of Design

The 6 pillars of Steve Jobs' design philosophy

Universal principles of design


Organizational Size, Multiple Audiences, and Web Site Design

Good requirements practices are neither necessary nor sufficient

Disorderly Reasoning in Information Design

Critical thinking paper

I'll claim that the following paragraph sums up this entire course. Now how does that relate to taking text from a writer and making decisions about how to arrange it? Does it involve more than just "prettying up" the text? How does it relate to the other readings?

Understanding a situation requires mentally integrating many pieces of information.  It requires understanding both that the information exists and how it is interrelated to the situational context and other pieces of information.  People often know something is occurring or that a particular piece of information exists, but they do not understand how it relates to the overall situation.  What they need from the data is to gain the knowledge required to understand the situation in its current context and make some type of decision about it.

Critical thinking paper background

Each week for the first half of the semester, you will have to write a short paper aimed at both increasing your ability for critical thinking and ensuring you think deeper about the concepts for the week. If you understand the material, you should be able to easily write 400-500 words. If you find yourself saying the same thing over and over, then you need to think about the deeper levels of the question.

What is critical thinking

Integrating critical thinking

Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework

Questions (post your answers on Blackboard)

Comment about answering discussion questions

Too often, discussion question answers are little more than "you need to consider audience because audience is important." Besides being a rather circular argument, it also shows little in-depth understanding of the material. If you could have given the answer before you read anything, then your answer is too shallow. I've tried to ask open-ended question that support different viewpoints.

The Flexibility of the Four Stages of Competence

You have to figure out what stage you are at. The article also gives a basis for why I expect some critical thinking in the discussion responses.

I expect your initial post and responses to reflect an understanding of the material and not be a quick shallow response. Too many answers I see are quick responses that don't consider the implications. Or worse, they tend to be a repeat of a previous post, which makes me wonder if you have read the material.To help, for many questions, you'll find an (edited) answer from a previous class. That answer is too simplistic and providing answers of that quality assures you will be stuck at Unconscious Incompetence, without knowing it. And having you work at that level is definitely not a goal of the course.


Some sources talk about Information Design and information design (note capitalization). What do you consider the difference to be? Why is it important? Which of the two are this week's readings addressing? I will say that next few weeks are addressing the other one. (None of the readings specifically address this, so don't try to find a quote. However, they all sort of dance around the subject.)

weak answer Information Design is an evolving concept that is considered a professional field or academic discipline of study. Information design focuses more on the practical elements, such as presentation and usability or the actual practice of creating a document. The scope of Information Design is much more profound than just merely making information pretty. This is important in order to prepare information that is efficient and effective.


(from a discussion list I subscribe to) car park design. How does this award winning design match against usable design? How would you determine if people could really use it? Waiting until it was all painted would be much too late because of the dollars spent. How would you handle determining this early in the process? How does this relate to design of printed/web information?

weak answer The car park design is a prime example of how documents are so ubiquitous that they appear invisible at times. In our reading, we learned that whether information is presented as a web page or printed page, at the particular moment of use, many factors are combined to present the information in a meaningful and effective way. Even though the car park design is not something a user would traditionally see, it still works because factors would combine and result as something the user could use. In a parking garage, you are looking for directions in, out, up or down, so the concept and document remains the same.

Thoughts to ponder


Early research by Nielsen found that people read slower on a monitor (and you'll find this cited constantly in web design discussions). While this is still sort of true, as the displays get better that difference is going away. The 50% slower figure used the old monochrome monitors (anyone remember those). Research with special video drivers and monitors set for 300 dpi found the same reading speed as paper. With the 96 dpi of a modern monitor, the difference is much closer to paper reading speed.


Multiple authors mention that

Even if writers work within a linear structure where the words are written first and decisions about format and design happen after the copy is finalized, this is not the way that readers approach texts. Readers do not separate content and design—they experience them simultaneously. Content, format, and design work together to create a complete package for readers.

This is a serious problem with many design situations. The designers fail to remember that they are not the audience. The team starts to design for them and design for team politics, rather than for the readers. It's a forest and trees thing.


Design by Michael J. Albers Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
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