English
6700

Document Design and Production

Spring
2016

 

Foundational concepts reading

Week 1

Design isn't the text

Comments

Thus far, most of your academic writing has been totally text focused. But now we are moving past the text. We assume the text already exists and learn how to present it in a manner that best communicates the information.

Readings

 

Voice

 

Overview

Comments

This article provides an overview that pretty much sums up what you will be learning throughout the semester.

Readings

Teaching Text Design

Voice

 

Design is in the details

Comments

Design to about communication. You must know (A) what you want to communicate, (B) how the person expects to receive the information, (C) how they interact with and interpret it, and (D) how to design the information in A so the human-information interaction of B and C work. Accomplishing that effectively sits in the details, not in the big picture.

Readings
Voice

 

Principles of design

Comments

This reading describes six major design principles which you must always consider when creating a design.

These are not rules, per se. They exist in any design. The quality of the design depends on the interaction of these six principles.

Readings

Kimball & Hawkins, p. 27-36

Voice

Visual rhetoric

Comments

Visual rhetoric has developed into its own field with a substantial body of work. Obviously, this research is highly relevant to information design. Most the concepts and principles you'll be learning in the course fit within visual rhetoric.

Many of the rhetorical principles you've already learned get translated into a visual form and can be applied to your designs.

Readings

Kimball & Hawkins, p. 62-68

Voice

Design is never rhetorically neutral

Comments

Never forget that the decisions you make in  a design also reflect those same relations of power and cultural practices, preferences and priorities.  Or in better TC terminology, “your design is never rhetorically neutral.”

J.B. Harley (2001), who put it succinctly: “Maps redescribe the world . . . in terms of relations of power and of cultural practices, preferences and priorities.”

Readings

 

Voice

Not rhetorically neutral

Big and small information design

Comments

"Design SIG use information design, perhaps at different times, to mean:

1. The overall process of developing a successful document

2. The way the information is presented on the page or screen (layout, typography, color, and so forth)" (Redish)

Readings

What is Information Design

Voice

Big and small design

 

Specific design techniques

Consistency

Comments

Readings

Consistency

Voice

 

Archetypes

Comments

Readings

Archetypes

Voice

Development cycle

Comments

Readings

development cycle

Voice

 

Week 2

Design is communication

Comments

It works; it makes sense; it communicates the message.

That is all your design has to do. Achieving those three simple goals is a different matter.

 

Readings

Design as communication

Voice

 

Know the rules before you break them

Comments

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 Designing with the Mind in Mind, 2010

Innovation and new ideas come from coloring outside the lines. In other words, break the rule about coloring inside the line. But first you have to know where the lines are. More importantly, you need to understand why the lines are drawn as they are.

If you know the rules and consciously break one, then you might be produce a good design. No guarantee though. The rules do exist for a reason.

If you don't know the rules and break them, your design will almost always be bad.

Readings

Optional

15 websites that break the rules

 

Voice

Know the rules

 

Design is a difficult messy problem

Comments

Design is a difficult messy problem.  It is not a simple matter of picking the correct fonts or layout.

There is no “correct” answer, but determining “most correct” proves much more difficult than most people realize.

A problem is that most people see it as something simple that can be applied after all of the “real work” has been completed.  If you let them push you around that way, then you become part of the problem.

Readings

Voice

Design is messy

 

Design problem is dynamic

Comments

“A design problem keeps changing while it is treated, because the understanding of what ought to be accomplished, and how it might be accomplished is continually shifting.  Learning what the problem is IS the problem” (Rittel, 1988, p. 3).

The pieces of the problem change both with time and after they are joined together.  Design teams that assume they are static have trouble developing information which clearly communicates with the intended audience.

Readings

dynamic information

Simplicity Is Not the Answer

Voice

 

The designer is not the user

Comments

Just keep repeating: "I am not the user."

You must understand the audience needs and goals before a design has a chance of being successful. The problem is that many designers create something that fits their needs and makes sense to them, but which does not fit the user's needs and doesn't make sense to them.

Many poorly design software interfaces, web pages, and instruction manuals were written in a way that fit the writer's/designer's needs. They are perfect for that person. Unfortunately, they are less than perfect for the people who actually have to use them.

Just keep repeating: "I am not the user."

Readings

Your Ego is a Bad Designer

Bridging the Designer-User Gap

Voice

Three views of information

Comments

Every technical and professional writing situation has three parts: system, designer, user. (System may not be physical, but what you are writing about makes up the system.)

Most of the time, most users of functional information are using that information to reach a personal goal—to answer a question or to complete a task.

The users, not the information designer, decide how much time and effort to spend trying to find and understand the information they need.

However, the designer’s perspective sometimes focuses on the designer’s tastes and ignores the needs and preferences of the user. Nielsen (1999) recognized the insufficiency of the designer’s perspective and stressed the need to focus on usability in Web page design. The usability principle calls for the designer to prioritize the user’s need over the designer’s intuition and world view. The need to bridge the gap between the designer’s perspective and the user’s perspective has been extensively addressed in the computer software system design literature (for example, Bullen and Bennett 1990; Mandviwalla and Olfman 1994; Moran and Anderson 1990). The designer’s alignment with the user is especially important when it comes to designing a product for multiple users (Danner and others 2000). There are simply more varied social, motivational, and political factors to consider when it comes to designing a technology to be used by a group rather than by an individual (Grudin 1994). (Organizational Size, Multiple Audiences.pdf)

The designer's model, the system image, and the user's model. For people to use a product successfully, they must have the same mental model (the user's model) as that of the designer (the designer's model). But the designer only talks to the user via the product itself, so the entire communication must take place through the "system image": the information conveyed by the physical product itself. (Originally published in Norman & Draper's User Centered System Design (1986), and reused frequently thereafter: The Design of Everyday Things (1988, 2003) and Emotional Design (2004). Design as Communication

Readings

Voice

Conceptual models

Clients, Users, Designers

Comments

Design projects have three different parties involved.

Clients: they pay for it. Their agenda is often different from the users and, although they may think they know what the user wants/needs, their view of the user may be way off. As a designer, you need to verify it.

Users: they use the final product

Designers: this is every one involved in producing the product. It could mean writers, programmers, engineers, etc.

Readings

Kimball & Hawkins p. 10-13

Voice

The 6 pillars of Steve Jobs' design philosophy

Comments

Apple is noted for having good designs. This article provides some insight into how Jobs thought about design. He always thought in terms of the big picture, but also realized that it was the details and appearance that drove how people responded.

Readings

Jobs' design philosophy

Voice

 

 

Specific design techniques

Cognitive dissonance

Comments

Readings

Cognitive dissonance

Voice

80/20 rule

Comments

Readings

80/20 rule

Voice

Highlighting

Comments

Readings

Highlighting

Voice

Constancy

Comments

You, as the designer, know that the elements are changing and when/how they will change. However, don't assume that will be apparent to the reader.

Once more we return to the designer is not the user.

Readings

Constancy

Voice

 

 

 

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