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Week Fifteen

Wednesday, May. 2
Weekly Image fourteen

Work Due

Final Project

Three related documents. PDF versions due on Sakai by 9 PM, Wednesday, May 2.

Upload PDF versions to your Sakai drop box. Your documents should be uploaded as three separate PDFs. They also need to be clearly named to avoid confusion with preliminary drafts.

Additionally, upload a cover letter, addressed to your client. This may be a PDF or Word document. This letter should do three things:

  1. List the three documents by genre, format, and purpose
  2. Specify the dimensions of each document (e.g., 8 pages, 5.5 by 8 inches)
  3. Indicate how the documents physically relate each other (if they do: e.g., that document B, adiagram, folds out from document A, a booklet); where they will be found by the user; and how (and where) they are designed to be used (if that's not clear from your statement about a document's purpose)

The letter should also indicate the source(s) of the information used in your documents.

Announcements

Final Office Hour

4:30 – 5:30 PM, Wednesday, May 9, in Loree 010 on Douglass Campus. Stop by for grades, feedback, and conversation.

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Week Fourteen

Wednesday, Apr. 25
Weekly Image fourteen

Announcements

Late Start This Week

Class will start thirty minutes late this week, at 5:00 PM.

Work Due

First drafts of at least two of the documents. Print sample pages for in-class review. Black-and-white, double-sided is fine.

Discussion

Presentations

Presentation on spatial relationships (Yau) and other visualization methods (Manovich).

Documents of Interest

Art en Route: A Guide to ARt in the MTA Network (PDF).

How NOT to design a document: "How to Change a Tire" (via Sakai).

Activities

Final Project Workshop

Review and discussion of your drafts.

Homework

Final Project

Complete the three documents of your final project and upload these as well-labeled PDF files to Sakai. Also upload a cover letter (Word or PDF), listing the three documents and specifying their dimensions. The final designs are due on Sakai by 9 PM, Wednesday, May 2.

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Week Thirteen

Wednesday, Apr. 18
Weekly Image thirteen

Work Due

Infographic Essay: Analysis

Length: 400-600 words (include a word count at the end)

As discussed in class, each member should provide a written account of the complete infographic essay. Narrate your reading/interpretation of the process of the essay as a whole (i.e., all four sections). Present in verbal form the argument or story the infographic presents.

In addition: With reference to Yau and Tufte, explain at least three of your design decisions. Specify the design choice you made and why you did it. Quote from at least one of the readings (Yau or Tufte) to support your explanation and be sure to quote from each reading at least once.

Upload a file of your verbal account to Sakai. Bring a printed copy to class.

Final Project: Preliminary Designs

Sketch in some detail designs for each of the three documents for your final project. These can be made on paper or in a program like Photoshop.

They should give a sense of overall organization, kinds of content, supratextual features, etc.

Ideally, you might go further and have a rough draft of any one of these documents.

Discussion

Presentations

Presentation on Tufte on Layering. Etc.

Activities

Final Project Workshop

Review and discussion of your sketches. Work on first drafts and informal feedback.

Homework

Reading

  • TBA

Final Project

First drafts of at least two of the documents. Print sample pages for in-class review.

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Week Twelve

Wednesday, Apr. 11
Weekly image twelve

Announcements

Virtual Class

There is no in-class meeting this week. However: work is still due for this week (see work due below) and new work is assigned for next week (seen homework below).

Work Due

Infographic Essay

Due: 6 PM, Sunday, Apr. 15

It looks as if I'm not going to have much of a chance to check on the Infographic Essays until Sunday night, so I'll reset the deadline for 6 PM Sunday (that's Apr. 15, the Titanic centennial). Upload a well-labeled PDF of your section to your Sakai dropbox. Also: circulate your section (e.g., via email) with the others in your group so that each of you will have a good sense of the final shape of the essay as whole.

As covered previously (and reviewed in the last class): Each section should consist of three or more well-defined sub-sections of primary and secondary material. The sub-sections can work together fairly closely (or not) but they should each achieve a distinct informational goal. In other words: Avoid presenting the same information in all three or more sub-sections. (Partially overlapping information, where effective, is fine.)

Homework

Reading

  • Nathan Yau, Visualize This: chapters 8 and 9.

Infographic Essay: Analysis

Due: In class, Apr. 18

Length: 400-600 words (include a word count at the end)

As discussed in class, each member should provide a written account of the complete infographic essay. Narrate your reading/interpretation of the process of the essay as a whole (i.e., all four sections). Present in verbal form the argument or story the infographic presents.

In addition: With reference to Yau and Tufte, explain at least three of your design decisions. Specify the design choice you made and why you did it. Quote from at least one of the readings (Yau or Tufte) to support your explanation and be sure to quote from each reading at least once.

Upload a file of your verbal account to Sakai. Bring a printed copy to class.

Final Project: Preliminary Designs

Due: In class, Apr. 18

Sketch in some detail designs for each of the three documents for your final project. These can be made on paper or in a program like Photoshop.

They should give a sense of overall organization, kinds of content, supratextual features, etc.

Ideally, you might go further and have a rough draft of any one of these documents.

First drafts of at least two of the docs are due the following week and the finished project about a week after that.

Most of the class will be spent working on the final project. I'll try to meet with each of you and give some feedback on your preliminary designs.

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Week Eleven

Wednesday, Apr. 4
Weekly Image Eleven

Announcements

Late Start This Week

Class will start one hour late this week, at 5:30 PM.

While waiting for class to start, you might find value in attending the Michael Rock (graphic designer) lecture at Mason Gross (Civic Center Building). It starts at 4 PM.

Work Due

Infographic Essay

Complete draft of your section. Upload a PDF to Sakai.

Final Project: Getting Started

Bring a printed copy of your one-page "Creative Brief" for the instructor.

Discussion

Presentations

Presentation on Tufte on Layering.

Final Project Prep

We'll discuss your project ideas and creative briefs.

Activities

Infographic Essay Workshop

Group review of all aspects of the project.

Homework

Reading

  • Yau, chapters 8 and 9.

Infographic Essay

Revise and complete your projects for next week.

Final Project

Sketch your ideas; gather your data, your images, etc.

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Week Ten

Wednesday, Mar. 28
Weekly Image Nine

Work Due

Infographic Essay

Sketch (on paper, by hand) several designs for you section. Use colors, collage elements, as needed. Bring these sketches (or printed versions of them) to class.

Draft of at least one major part of your section (based on one of your sketched designs). Save as PDF and upload to Sakai. Draft can still be fairly rough but must present actual content (not filler).

And as noted in class: you may use images not of your own creation. However: the more modified these are, or the more fully you use images of your own making, the better.

Any appropriated images you use need to be credited in the final draft: so keep track of where you're getting the images from.

Finally: graphs, charts, and other visualizations of data need to be of your own making (via one application or another).

Discussion

Presentations

Presentations on chapters four, five, and seven from Yau.

Designer Profile Chapters: Review

Your profiles will be handed back and we'll review some aspects of the woirk.

Infographic Essay: Analysis of the Genre

Examples of infographics and infographic essays via Visual.ly:

And one more: State of Wikipedia.

Final Project: Getting Started

I'll introduce the final project and hear some of your ideas.

Briefly, your final project should consist of at least three different but related documents that respond (provide information in response to) a well-defined problem or need. Depending on the nature of your project, the documents may be different sub-documents within a single longer document like a booklet; e.g., a critical edition of a poem or a manual for a device. One, but no more than one, of your documents may be a poster or a tri-fold brochure.

At least one of the three documents will need to be image-intensive, i.e., one where images of two or more kinds play a widespread and essential role in the functioning of the document. (Cf. the NY Times examples from last week.)

Some more questions to keep in mind are

  • Who is your specific audience?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What do they already know?
  • What documents might they already have access to that supply some or all of the information they need?
  • What are the strengths and flaws of these documents?
  • Where and how will they acquire your document(s)? Where will they use them?
  • Why wasn't your audience being served (or served well) before?
  • What is your most important design/usability challenge?

Activities

Infographic Essay

Work continues on this project. Refer to the requirements presented last week.

Homework

Reading

  • Tufte, chapters 6 and 7.

Infographic Essay

TBA

Final Project: Getting Started

Prepare a one-page "Creative Brief" for your final project. This needs to specify the following information:

  • Problem to which the documents at least in part respond. What is the cause of the problem? What are its effects on the people affected? The problem may have several parts or aspects.
  • People affected by the problem, who'll use the documents.
  • Place(s) = (1) location of problem; and (2) place where users will access the document.
  • Patron = the client. The individual or organization playing for the design. What does he, she, or it want?

Moreover: Given the problem, what will the documents communicate? What do the users need to know? Why do they want/need to know it? How will this knowledge help them to respond to the problem?

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Week Nine

Wednesday, Mar. 21
Weekly Image Nine

Work Due

Infographic Essay

Bring your research and ideas to class. You'll begin designing the essay in class.

Discussion

Presentations

More presentations on chapters from Yau.

Infographic Essay: Analysis of the Genre

As used here: an infographic ESSAY is a document that makes an argument or tells a story through a series of related infographics (plus some introductory material). The essay is divided into sections, each with its own role in the essay and consisting of one or more infographics (think of these as being somewhat akin to paragraphs in an expos essay).

One of the questions to consider is what goes into an infographic, what are its parts, properties, features, pieces? With this in mnid, let's take a look at Ivan Cash, Infographic of Infographics.

Let's start our own analysis with this new example: How to Choose & Use a Backpack.

Now compare this example: Evolution of Facebook Features.

Next, let's compare our analysis with the one given in this article.

. . .

The examples we looked at in the last class:

Activities

Infographic Essay

Final planning session followed by a design workshop.

General formatting requirements:

  • Main Title for the Essay
  • Section Titles (headline or question titles, as in the Sunscreen Smokescreen are recommended)
  • Titles/labels identifying each graphic (as needed)
  • Division into sections (with related sub-sections)
  • Clear delineation of sections
  • Stable format: all sections need to fit together, clearly belong to the same document

General content requirements: The essay should

  • Be informative, persuasive, entertaining, and aesthetic
  • Present a story or argument
  • Present a clear course of reading/access (a path through the material)
  • Identify all data and information sources

Also: Sources should be cited near to where the data is presented (e.g., underneath the graph presenting the data)

The essay should include:

  • At least one sustained information comparison (or its equivalent). See the Edison vs. Tesla example.
  • At least one section with a temporal/historical/narrative focus (although not necessarily a timeline)
  • At least one major diagram

Each section/individual part should:

  • Present both primary and secondary content
  • Follow the common color strategy for the project
  • Consist of more than two parts
  • Combine quantitative with other information (although not necessarily in graph form)
  • Use reference icons (these can be worked out as a group or developed for each section)

The color strategy needs to be worked out in advance. Generally, either all the sections follow the same scheme throughout or follow a meaningfully contrasting variation between sections.

Homework

Reading

Infographic Essay

Sketch (on paper, by hand) several designs for you section. Use colors, collage elements, as needed. Bring these sketches (or scans of them) to class.

Draft of at least one major part of your section (based on one of your sketched designs). Save as PDF and upload to Sakai.

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Week Eight

Wednesday, Mar. 7
Weekly Image Seven

Announcements

Late Start This Week

Class will start 30 minutes late this week, at 5 PM.

Work Due

Infographics in the Wild

Copy the two infographics into a Word doc or PDf and upload to Sakai for easy access in class.

Designer Profile Project: The Abridged Version

Save as a PDF and upload to Sakai. Bring a printed version to class. Make sure the two pages are facing each other. (You should be able to print them both on a single sheet of paper.) Black and white printing is suitable.

Discussion

Presentations

Presentations on chapters from Lipton and Yau.

Infographics in the Wild

We'll take a look at what you've found.

XML and Information Design

Introduction to XML.

A basic XML tutorial.

A related tutorial for working with InDesign together XML: Adobe InDesign CS3 and XML: A Technical Reference (PDF).

Infographic Essay

An example: The Sunscreen Smokescreen.

Another example: Student Debt.

Another: Edison vs. Tesla.

And another: Carbon Dioxide and the Environment.

More examples can be found at Information Is Beautiful and back at Good.

Activities

New Project

The Infographic Essay project will be introduced and some preliminary planning with go into effectg.

Homework

Reading

  • Yau, Visualize This, chapters three to five.

Again, the tutorial for working with InDesign together XML: Adobe InDesign CS3 and XML: A Technical Reference (PDF).

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Week Seven

Wednesday, Feb. 29
Weekly Image Seven

Announcements

Important Message about This Week's Class and Homework

Due to your instructor's "compromised state," this week's class is cancelled. HOWEVER: (1) the Designer Profile final draft is still due; and (2) there is new work assigned for next week. This is all covered below but here is a summary:

1. By 9 PM tomorrow (Feb. 29): Upload your Designer Profile PDF to your Sakai drop box.

2. By 1 PM on Thursday (March 1): Leave the printed copy either in my mailbox in the Murray Hall mailroom on College Ave or under my office door (Loree 010) on Douglass.

3. For next week: Complete the homework described on the course website. Basically, you'll prepare a condensed, two-page, half-letter format version of your designer profile. (This would've been the main in-class activity for this week.)

This week's presentation is also postponed until next week. Additionally, if anyone would like to present on the first chapter of Yau's book, let me know.

Work Due

Designer Profile Project

By 9 PM Wednesday: Complete the project. Upload a well-labeled final PDF to your Sakai drop box.

By 1 PM Thursday: Leave a printed (color) copy either in my mailbox in the Murray Hall mailroom on College Ave or under my office door (Loree 010) on Douglass. Double-sided printing is okay, but: It's important that your printed version preserves the actual layout so that I can review the work as it's meant to appear (i.e., facing pages facing each other and not back to back).

Homework

Reading

  • Yau, Visualize This, introduction and chapters one and two.

Infographics in the Wild

Find examples of two infographics, one successful and one less so. Have a clear sense of what features makes the successful inofgrpahic successful and the less successful one less so and be prepared to say why in class.

Take a look at this short blog post on the subject to get you started.

Copy the infographics into a Word doc or PDf and upload to Sakai for easy access next week.

Note: You may re-use examples from the first (Tufte) assignment if the examples apply. But re-save in a new file.

Designer Profile Project: The Abridged Version

Prepare a condensed version of your designer profile. The objective is to fit a viable version of the chapter onto two half-letter format pages.

Follow these general guidelines:

  • Format: 2 facing pages, half-letter format (i.e., 8 ½" × 5½"), portrait orientation.
  • Abbreviated text: condense the text as needed. Retain what is essential; limit what is secondary; remove what can be done without. However: don't simply chop the text arbitrarily in half. The goal is still to inform the user sufficiently and effectively and not to confuse him or her.
  • Retain the Further Reading section.
  • Supratextual information (book title on one page, chapter title on the other, page numbers on both.)
  • One picture of the designer.
  • Three images of his/her/their work. These images should have the same height and width dimensions.
  • Chapter title (optional headline plus designer's name).

Again: Fit onto the pages. Keep a bit of whitespace insofar as possible.

Save as a PDF and upload to Sakai. Bring a printed version to class. Make sure the two pages are facing each other. (You should be able to print them both on a single sheet of paper.) Black and white printing is suitable.

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Week Six

Wednesday, Feb. 22
Weekly Image Six

Work Due

Designer Profile Project

1. A complete first draft for review in the class. Upload a PDF of your work to your Sakai drop box. Print out at least one spread (black and white is fine) for comparison with the PDF.

2. An example of a book (or related document) whose layout and design, you feel, works well as a model for the kind of chapter design you're working on for your profile. The example be (1) a reference book; (2) a magazine; or (3) a coffee-table book. Slightly smaller tan coffee-table size is fine. The example should be a model that you (and others) can study and learn from, especially as you seek to revise (often quite radically) your initial design.

Discussion

Presentations

A three-part presentation with accompanying visuals of the layout and typography chapter from Lipton.

Activities

Designer Profile Project

We continue working on the profile project.

Key requirements:

  • 4-8 pages (on 2-4 sheets of 8 ½ × 11 inch paper)
  • Rich use of informative illustrations with captions
  • Initial (two-page) spread
  • Good contrast between different rhetorical clusters: esp. between different sections and categories of information
  • Strong interaction between topic and access structures

Special features (some optional, some not):

  • Pullquote (required)
  • Timeline (required)
  • Images with captions (required)
  • Further Reading (required)
  • Sidebar
  • Gallery
  • Labeled image
  • Map

Homework

Reading

  • TBA

Presentations

Presentation topics for next week: Lipton, chapter 7 (on diagrams).

Designer Profile Project

Complete the project. Upload a well-labeled final PDF to your Sakai drop box. Bring a printed (color) copy to class. Double-sided printing is okay, but: It's important that your printed version preserves the actual layout so that I can review the work as it's meant to appear (i.e., facing pages facing each other and not back to back).

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Week Five

Wednesday, Feb. 15
Weekly Image Five

Work Due

Designer Profile Project

1. Produce an initial draft for the spread for the first two pages. Supplement this with work on at least a few of the subsequent pages (you'll need to give a good idea of the layout if not the fine points of the typography). Save your progress as a well-labeled PDF and upload to your Sakai drop box.

2. Prepare a file containing reproductions of images you might use (those you intend to use, others that you're considering). For each image: Specify the informative contribution it will make to your profile. You'll need to be specific about this. Save a PDF or Word doc to your Sakai drop box. Turn in a printed copy in class.

Discussion

Information Design in Your Life: Second Review

Last week I was able to give some feedback on many of your designs. This week we'll discuss how lessons from the spreads -- what works and what doesn't work so well -- can be applied to current and future design work.

Activities

Designer Profile Project

We continue working on the new project.

Key requirements:

  • 4-8 pages (on 2-4 sheets of 8 ½ × 11 inch paper)
  • Rich use of informative illustrations with captions
  • Initial (two-page) spread
  • Good contrast between different rhetorical clusters: esp. between different sections and categories of information
  • Strong interaction between topic and access structures

Special features (some optional, some not):

  • Pullquote (required)
  • Timeline (required)
  • Images with captions (required)
  • Further Reading (required)
  • Sidebar
  • Gallery
  • Labeled image
  • Map

Homework

Reading

  • Ronnie Lipton, Practical Guide to Information Design, chapters 5 (on color).

Presentations

Presentations on the reading. Presentations should convey MAIN IDEAS from the reading, stressing what the presenter determines to be especially useful. Presentations do not need to summarize the reading in a comprehensive way. Rather, again, focus on a few main points, useful points.

Presentations should be about five minutes and should include some images, using Powerpoint, Keynote, or some other means. Images should be of examples of information design, etc., illustrating the text.

Presentation topics for next week: Three to present on Lipton, chapter three (on type and layout).

Designer Profile Project

1. A complete draft for review in the next class. (Final draft due in two weeks.)

2. Bring to class an example of a book (or related document) whose layout and design, you feel, works well as a model for the kind of chapter design you're working on for your profile. The example be (1) a reference book; (2) a magazine; or (3) a coffee-table book. Slightly smaller tan coffee-table size is fine. The example should be a model that you (and others) can study and learn from, especially as you seek to revise (often quite radically) your initial design.

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Week Four

Wednesday, Feb. 8
Weekly Image Four

Work Due

Information Design in My Life

First, complete the typography reading listed above.

Next: Complete and revise the first draft of your document in light of the reading. Save a PDF as "final" draft and upload this version to Sakai by the next class. There should be two different versions on Sakai by next week – a "first" draft and a revised "final" draft.

Finally, bring a printed copy of the spread for the instructor (non-color is fine).

Note on printing: For this assignment, color printing not required. I'll use the PDF in your drop box for the color information. (For some future assignments, such as the designer profile, I'll require color printing.)

Moreover: Each page for this assignment should be printed to scale but on separate pieces of paper (not double-sided) so that I can replicate the spread layout when reviewing the work.

Discussion

Using Images

A few remarks on this topic, with examples.

Activities

Designer Profile Project

For this project, you'll design a book chapter devoted to the life and work of an individual designer or design group. The project has both a (small) collaborative aspect and a (large) solo aspect to it. The basic text for the project will be provided, but you'll need to investigate (1) the profile genre and design conventions for the format and (2) the style and work of the designer.

Key requirements:

  • 4-8 pages (on 2-4 sheets of 8 ½ × 11 inch paper)
  • Rich use of informative illustrations with captions
  • Initial (two-page) spread
  • Good contrast between different rhetorical clusters: esp. between different sections and categories of information
  • Strong interaction between topic and access structures

Special features (some optional, some not):

  • Pullquote (required)
  • Timeline (required)
  • Images with captions (required)
  • Further Reading (required)
  • Sidebar
  • Gallery
  • Labeled image
  • Map

Getting Started

To get started: Let's take a look at some of the different kinds of (mainly) textual information that consistute a typical reference book biography text:

Now let's take a look at some re-designs of the bio text from a previous information design project:

  1. Front pages (color)
  2. Front pages (black & white)
  3. Back Matter
  4. Other pages

The Assignment: Designer Bio/Profile Article.

Sample Entries from Biographical Dictionaries

Below are representative examples of the biography reference book genre; they're functional but not especially exciting, design-wise. Evaluating them as designs, we should consider two questions in partiocular: (1) How does the design suit, or fail to suit, the subject? and (2) How does the design at all its levels convey, or fail to convey, effectively information about the subject? Putting question (2) in a different way: How does the design promote or assist what Waller called active reading?

  1. Ancient Greeks: Pericles, p. 1
  2. Ancient Greeks: Pericles, p. 2
  3. Ancient Greeks: Pericles, p. 3
  4. Ancient Greeks: Pericles, p. 4
  5. Ancient Greeks: Pericles, p. 5
  6. Spies: Sara Edmonds (source: I Lie for a Living: Greatest Spies of All Time)
  7. Spies: Sir Francis Walsingham (source: I Lie for a Living: Greatest Spies of All Time)

And some magazine design examples for comparison: Re-Layout a Magazine assignment.

Form groups of three and discuss ideas, working methods, and division of labor for your designer profile project.

Related Design Examples: The Designer Spread

Spiekerman Spread

Read text at Eyemagazine.

More examples:

Designer Profile Project: Prep Work

Complete the prep work for the new project.

First, select a designer from the Design Museum list.

Next, print the text on your selected designer (or copy to a text editor that allows for different kinds of highlighting).

Read through the text and mark distinctly (circle, underline, highlight, etc.) the following elements:

  • Titles of books, magazines, films, paintings. Most of these will need to be italicized (or otherwise distinguished) in your design.
  • Special characters, especially hyphens (-) or double hyphens (--), which, in some cases, you'll need to convert into the wider n-dashes (–) or m-dashes (—). Refer to Lipton and Hedrick for clarification on when to use which kind of mark.
  • References to specific design works by the designer. Some of these you'll want to illustrate. And some of these you'll need to find more information on (when it was made, what it looks like, its critical and popular reception, what it does, etc.); some of which you'll include in your image captions.
  • References to design, art, movements, other designers, etc. that have influenced your designer – or have been influenced by him or her. These you may want to illustrate and supplement with caption (or sidebar) information as well.

Additionally, find images to use. These should not be the images from the Design Museum page for your designer but high-resolution images you find elsewhere or scan yourself.

The images should include both works by the designer refered to in the text and images associated with influences by the designer. Images may also include works of design by other designers influenced by your chosen designer.

Homework

Reading

  • Ronnie Lipton, Practical Guide to Information Design, chapters 6 (on pictures) and 7 (on diagrams).

Presentations

Presentations on the reading. Presentations should convey MAIN IDEAS from the reading, stressing what the presenter determines to be especially useful. Presentations do not need to summarize the reading in a comprehensive way. Rather, again, focus on a few main points, useful points.

Presentations should be about five minutes and should include some images, using Powerpoint, Keynote, or some other means. Images should be of examples of information design, etc., illustrating the text.

Designer Profile Project

1. Produce an initial draft for the spread for the first two pages. Supplement this with work on at least a few of the subsequent pages (you'll need to give a good idea of the layout if not the fine points of the typography). Save your progress as a well-labeled PDF and upload to your Sakai drop box.

2. Prepare a file containing reproductions of all the images you might use (those you intend to use, others that you're considering). For each image: Specify the informative contribution it will make to your profile. You'll need to be specific about this. Save a PDF or Word doc to your Sakai drop box. Turn in a printed copy in class.

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Week Three

Wednesday, Feb. 1
Weekly Image Three

Work Due

Quine Exercise

Four variations of the Quine invitation. Upload a PDF of your completed work to your Sakai drop box.

The Information Design in My Life

Combine your text with the images in a Word document or PDF. Upload this to your Sakai drop box and bring a printed copy to class.

Have digital versions of all the material (text plus images) available to work with in class. It's recommended that you bring the original files for the photos to use in the planned in-class design wrok.

Discussion

Tufte: Escaping Flatland

Tufte: "We envision information in order to reason about, communicate, document, and preserve that knowledge – activities nearly always carried out on two-dimensional paper and computer screen. Escaping this flatland and enriching the density of data displays are the essential tasks of information design" (Envisioning Information 33).

Concepts from Tufte:

  • Escaping flatland
  • Multivariate world
  • Data density
  • Chartjunk
  • Common design strategies – e.g., small multiples, micro/macro readings, layering and separation

Waller: Design, Genre, and Error

Concepts from Waller:

  • Production Process: Author, Designer, User
  • Structures: Topic, Access, Artifact
  • Genre Scale
  • Error in layout

Grocery Lists

Biff, these are the things I need:

  • lowfat milk (quart)
  • half-dozen eggs
  • peanut butter (no salt added)
  • toothpaste (any)
  • purple toothbrush (cheapest)
  • three Granny Smith apples
  • chocolate bar (dark)
  • chewing gun (sugar-free)
  • coffee filters
  • low-fat granola (no raisins)
  • sponge (any)
  • extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • one baguette
  • six bananas (not the green ones)

Thanks!!!!!!

The basic shopping list. The topic structure (i.e., the aspect of the graphic structure that represents the topical content) is realized by the words that specify the items needed and certain properties of those items. Giving each item its own line of the list further (better) realizes the topic structure. Insofar as the topical content consists of different products, listing each product on a different line saliently presents their diversity.

What of the access structure? Which typographic features of the document realize this aspect of the overall graphic structure? (Hint: There are some.)

Biff, these are the things I need:

  • lowfat milk (quart)
  • half-dozen eggs
  • peanut butter (no salt added)
  • toothpaste (any)
  • purple toothbrush (cheapest)
  • three Granny Smith apples
  • chocolate bar (dark)
  • chewing gun (sugar-free)
  • coffee filters
  • low-fat granola (no raisins)
  • sponge (any)
  • extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • one baguette
  • six bananas (not the green ones)

Thanks!!!!!!

Adding bullets enriches the access structure of the shopping list.

Biff, these are the things I need:

  • lowfat milk (quart)
  • half-dozen eggs
  • extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • three Granny Smith apples
  • six bananas (not the green ones)
  • peanut butter (no salt added)
  • low-fat granola (no raisins)
  • one baguette
  • chocolate bar (dark)
  • chewing gun (sugar-free)
  • toothpaste (any)
  • purple toothbrush (cheapest)
  • coffee filters
  • sponge (any)

Thanks!!!!!!

Dividing the list into different groups of related items enriches the topic structure of the shopping list.

Biff, these are the things I need:

Dairy
  • lowfat milk (quart)
  • half-dozen eggs
  • extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Fruit
  • three Granny Smith apples
  • six bananas (not the green ones)
Other Food
  • peanut butter (no salt added)
  • low-fat granola (no raisins)
  • one baguette
Candy
  • chocolate bar (dark)
  • chewing gun (sugar-free)
Non-Edible Stuff
  • toothpaste (any)
  • purple toothbrush (cheapest)
  • coffee filters
  • sponge (any)

Thanks!!!!!!

Labeling each of the groups further enriches access structure of the shopping list.

The added labeling also extends the list onto two pages or two sides of a single sheet, a change in the artefact structure that may negatively affect the ease-of-use of the document as the labeling positively affects it. So there is something of an exchange, an instance of design as structural negotiation.

Biff, these are the things I need:

  • lowfat milk (quart)
  • half-dozen eggs
  • peanut butter (no salt added)
  • toothpaste (any)
  • purple toothbrush (cheapest)
  • three Granny Smith apples
  • chocolate bar (dark)
  • chewing gun (sugar-free)
  • coffee filters
  • low-fat granola (no raisins)
  • sponge (any)
  • extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • one baguette
  • six bananas (not the green ones)

Thanks!!!!!!

Cropping the paper to more or less match the length of the list reduces the artefact structure.

The question is: does cropping the paper (the physical artefact) help or harm the communicative effectiveness of the document; or does it leave it unchanged? Did the extra spacing at the bottom of the sheet of paper in the previous examples contribute to (rather than interfere with or leave unaffected) either the topic or access structure?

The Information Design in My Life

Some examples . . .

NY Times Magazine chartjunk?

My third example is a full NY Times page. You can find the page reproduced on Sakai, in the "ID Examples" folder under Resources.

Multiple Objects of Reference

Activities

The Information Design in My Life

The editors of a new book project with the projected title The Information Design in My Life have asked a number of leading information designers, including yourselves, to each contribute a two-page spread of pictures and comments on the eponymous subject.

Here are the requirements:

  • Two page spread using a (modular) grid; 8.5 x 11 inches (portrait).
  • Use a larger top margin.
  • White background
  • Two levels of heading, including an imaginative title for the spread and the designer's name (i.e., your name). Name and title phrase should be visually differentiated (by color, font, size).
  • Optional one-sentence blurb under or above the title
  • Paragraph of introductory text (your own or use fill text).
  • Five images of information design with five captions. Each caption should have a descriptive title. (Select these from the six examples you prepared for this week.)
  • Crop images for emphasis.
  • Supra-textual elements: page numbers, book title, perhaps also your name or an appropriate section title in the margin, etc. Set up these recurring features via the master page. Note: do not use 1 and 2 for page numbers; start spread with EVEN page number greater that 20.

Your design should follow a fairly conservative grid design on a white background with one image and one text block on each tier of the page. One page of the spread should have three items; the other page, two items plus the title and introductory text.

Set up a basic layout using a 3 x 3, 4 x 4, or 5 x 5 (column to row) grid – or another combination that works for you. Use image width to establish column width and the projected horizontal space between the image and text to establish gutter width (or the other way around).

Complete the design. Use paragraph and character styles to simplify the process. (Basically your body text will consist of five identically styled paragraphs plus one contrasting paragraph of introduction plus the title/headings.)

Note: There are different ways of setting up a two-page spread in InDesign. For instance, create a three-page document and work only on the second and third pages. Or try these instructions.

This three-part tutorial for magazine design with InDesign may also be useful: parts one, two, and three. While intended for magazine design, its techniques translate well to this project.

When you are finished (or by the end of class): Save a PDF of your work, indicate in the file name that this is a "first draft", and upload it to your Sakai drop box.

Homework

Reading

  • Ronnie Lipton, Practical Guide to Information Design, chapters 3 and 4.

Typography Reading

  1. Charles Hedrick, Guidelines for Typography in NBCS. This essay is presented by Hedrick in 16 versions, each more or less identical in content but appearing in a different typeface. Select other versions via Hedrick's Typography Resources.
  2. Chasteauneuf, A Tutorial for Good Typography in InDesign – Setting up a baseline grid
  3. Red Labor, Know Your Type

Hedrick's essay is a clear and solid introduction to typographical basics we'll be drawing on throughout the semester. The Red Labor article is a short overview, focusing on excitement where Hedrick focuses on clarity. The Chasteauneuf article is a good tutorial for InDesign that supplements the Illustrator type lesson you can find at Digital Foundations.

Information Design in My Life

First, complete the typography reading listed above.

Next: Complete and revise the first draft of your document in light of the reading. Save a PDF as "final" draft and upload this version to Sakai by the next class. There should be two different versions on Sakai by next week – a "first" draft and a revised "final" draft.

Finally, bring a printed copy of the spread for the instructor (non-color is fine).

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Week Two

Wednesday, Jan. 25
Two

Work Due

Quine Exercise

Four variations of the Quine invitation. Upload a PDF of your completed work to your Sakai drop box.

InDesign Exercise from Digital Foundations

Submit the PDF version (not the .indd file) to your 415 drop box on Sakai.

Reading Questions

Bring a printed copy of your answers/responses to class. Upload a digital copy to your Sakai drop box.

Discussion

Review: The Rhetorical Situation of Information Design

Last week, using the grocery list example, we pursued an analysis of the rhetorical situation of information design. As you saw in the reading, this is an imnportant notion developed by both Waller and Tufte in their respective introductions to the discipline.

According to our analysis, we isolated several roles or positions within the communicative process: The author, the information producer or provider (the roommate who makes the list); the informational document (the grocery list itself); the topical content (the groceries needed, specified by the list); the information user (the roommate who is going to the store); and the context of use (the grocery store). We also condsidered the purpose of the document, the use to which the information is to be put (in this case, helping the one roommate to purchase items needed by the other roommate).

To this analysis we can add two new terms: the document's genre (shopping list) and its format (probably handwritten on scrap paper; but nothing prevents the ambitious authoring roommate from producing a shopping list in the format of a printed concertina booklet, with each item listed and illustrated on its own separate page). Also: the document's location and/or mode of access. Where is the document found or stored? And does the context of use typically differ from the site of storage? How does the user physically access, interact with, the document?

Now let's consider the rhetorical situation of some other documents, starting with (1) the insert in last week's box of chocolates and (2) the Quine invitation. Also:

Tufte: Escaping Flatland

Tufte: "We envision information in order to reason about, communicate, document, and preserve that knowledge – activities nearly always carried out on two-dimensional paper and computer screen. Escaping this flatland and enriching the density of data displays are the essential tasks of information design" (Envisioning Information 33).

Concepts from Tufte:

  • Escaping flatland
  • Multivariate world
  • Data density
  • Chartjunk
  • Common design strategies – e.g., small multiples, micro/macro readings, layering and separation

Waller: Design, Genre, and Error

Concepts from Waller:

  • Production Process: Author, Designer, User
  • Structures: Topic, Access, Artifact
  • Genre Scale
  • Error in layout

Example of a common design error from a London newspaper.

Another example of a common design error from a London newspaper.

Tiger Fact Sheet

Tiger Fact Sheet: A more complicated example.

Degrees of (Informational) Design

Compare the handwritten grocery list for personal or use with a form designed for use in an organization. Both documents are designed, but they clearly exhibit different degrees of design (planning, labor, design resources applied, etc.).

With this in mind, let's compare the front and back sides of two more very differently designed folding brochures: Zipcar brochure and Chinese Restaurant take-out menu (.pdf).

Which of these appears to be more rigorously designed? What is the designer trying to say in each case? Who is the audience? That is: What do the designs tell us about their intended audiences? How are we meant to use these documents? What do they help the user to do?

At the same time: Notice the structural similarities between the two documents. Underlying the considerable stylistic differences, the two documents have surprising features of their designs in common. What are some of these features? And what does their similarity suggest about the practices of information design?

Activities

Photoshop Introduction

If needed: We'll take a look at some basic features of Adobe Photoshop CS3.

As part of this introduction, we'll refer to Digital Foundations, chapter nine.

Quine Exercise, Part Two

Part 1 of the Quine exercise focused on layout and typography. Part 2 continues this focus but adds graphics, color, and a theme.

In part 2 you'll make four variations of the announcement, sticking to the 8 inch by 8 inch dimensions:

  • Add an image to the design. (Cf. this invitation.) Make TWO new designs using this image. You can modify the image, crop it, vary its size, etc. between the two designs, but the basic image should be the same. Use the modular GRID to size and position the image. That is: the image should fit within, and align with, some combination of the modules. Moreover: Use both the image and typography to signify/reflect the topic (i.e., Quine, analytic philosophy, logic, etc.). One of these invitations may use color beyond black, white, or gray. The other should remain with the black-white-gray scheme.
  • Add additional descriptive text to a third new design. Look carefully at the text. What needs additional styling (e.g., italics or replacing).
  • Make a version of the Quine announcement in the style of either the Chinese restaurant menu (brochure) or the Zipcar brochure that we looked at (see above). Note: You do not need to perfectly replicate the styles of these brochures. Rather, try to apply a few characteristic design choices from one or the other to your final invitation design.

Optional: You may want to switch from a 4 × 4 grid to a 3 × 3 or 6 × 6 grid. See what works.

Saving and Exporting Your Quine Project

Again: Save your work often. When you're finished, save your native InDesign file (.indd) in a location (or on a device) where you can access it again.

You should be able to complete this exercise in class. However, I encourage you to take one more look at the project and make adjustments. The finished work is due by the start of class next week. Submit a printed version and upload a PDF copy to your Information Design drop box on Sakai.

Homework

Reading

  • Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information, chapter 3 ("Layering and Separation"). Available on Sakai, under Resources.
  • Ronnie Lipton, Practical Guide to Information Design, chap. 1, How Humans (Almost) Universally Perceive. Note: contrary to previous indicastions, purchasing this book is NOT required. The book is a good one, but after this week, we'll use Kimball and Hawkins text instead.
  • Kostelnick, R. "Supra-Textual Design: The Visual Rhetoric of Whole Documents," Technical Communication Quarterly 5.1 (1996): 9-33. Available on Sakai under "Resources".
  • Photoshop tutorials (as needed): Burrough and Mandiberg, Digital Foundations, chapter 2, 7-12. Read through these chapters. Most are devoted specificallty to Photoshop. Follow the exercises as needed.

The Information Design in My Life

Look around you and find some interesting examples of information design in your everyday environment (in your room, in your neighborhood, on campus, etc.). Focus on items that you actually use, that is, in your everyday life.

Try to find a mix of types: printed informational documents, directive or other informative (rather than simply identifying or promotional) signage, informative parts of product packaging. In particular, look for six examples that illustrate ideas in the reading (Waller, Tufte, Lipton, Kostelnick, etc.).

For each example:

  1. Photograph the item. If possible, take several photos of each.
  2. Identify the informational object or document, its GENRE and its FORMAT.Specify its typical location and/or mode of access.
  3. Also, you should say what you find useful about each example – i.e., what is its informational value for YOU in YOUR day-to-day activity. What do you do with it/use it to do or do more effectively? How regularly (or not) do you use the document.
  4. Write a short text explaining how the example illustrates specific ideas from the reading (Tufte, Waller, Lipton, Kostelnick, etc.). In support of your explanation, be sure to quote from the readings, identifying each reading by its author and supplying the page number of the quoted material in parentheses after the quote. One or two quotes per item is enough, but be sure to quote from at least three of the readings.

In addition: Write a short (quasi-fictional) single-paragraph bio of yourself as a professional information designer. What sort of projects do you specialize in? What are some specific projects or documents that you've designed? Here is a long example of the kind of writing I mean: Ben Fry (but it's much longer than the text I require). Here is a shorter example: Peter J. Bogaards (scroll to the bottom of the page for the example). Add to this a photograph of yourself that, you feel, represents you professionally as an information designer.

. . .

Your photos and text will form the basis for a project we'll start in the next class so you'll need to store and have in-class access to the material.

Combine your comments with the images in a Word document or PDF. Upload this to your Sakai drop box and bring a printed copy to the next class.

Also: Bring the original files for the six photos to class (in case you want to modify these).

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Week One

Wednesday, Jan. 18
One

Announcements

Class Location and Start Time

Our class will be meeting this semester in the Satellite computer lab on College Ave. The lab is near Records Hall. You can check the Rutgers University website or stop by Records Hall if you need directions.

Discussion

Introduction

In which we review the syllabus and policies; look at some examples; and discuss information, rhetoric, audience, document, genre, element, and some other basic terms of the course.

Examples

Let's go over a range of very different examples (by no means exhaustive) of information design. Common examples of information design can range from the simple and personal (vernacluar information design) to the formal and shared, and beyond.

Here is another example of information design from everyday life (at least during the holidays):

Truffles in a box

. . .

Next: Let's take a comparative look at two notably different instances of information design related to the topic of health and sitting (yes, as suspected, this class may be bad for your health):

Some questions relating to these two examples: (1) Who are the audiences for these two documents? (2) What are the documents trying to do (what are their authors, or patrons, trying to do through the documents)? What are the documents trying to get or help their readers ("users") to do? (3) How is the design of each document helping to advance (or hinder) the author's purpose? (4) How is the design of each document helping the interested reader to use the document?

Additional documents:

Some of these documents convey a large amount of information, some very little. Some convey information in many different categories, some only in a few. And some are for a single kind of user (even a single user) and some present different kinds of information for different kinds of user. Try to imagine and describe the user(s) of each document and to catalogue the different kinds of information as we look at each document in turn.

Some (Information) Design Basics from Signal Theory

First, I'll define what I mean by signal theory. Then, we'll go over some of its key terms: structural metatext, semantic metatext, prototext, content, signaling devices, and printed realization.

Let's look at some examples of printed realizations from the genre of the event invitation: Invitation A; Invitation B; and Invitation C; and for additional comparison, Invitation C.

Next, let's look at some versions of an unfinished invitation (that, happily, you'll soon finish in the activity phase of this week's class):

How can we modify the first, minimal instance to better (more clearly, more efficiently) realize the structural metatext?

How about to better realize the semantic metatext?

More Design Basics: Layout and Typography

Let's begin with a look at some basic layout and typography terms and ideas. We'll spend a lot more time with these as the semester continues and you'll soon encounter them in depth in the reading.

To help us with this crash introduction, let's take a look at the Text and Grid pages at Thinking with Type.

For more on designing with a grid, take a look at this friendly document.

Activities

Quine Layout and Typography Exercise

A photograph

Photograph of W.V.O. Quine.

This exercise will give you some initial practice with layout and typography. You'll work with a (fictional) text announcing an exhibition at Harvard University devoted to the great American philosopher and logician, Willard Van Orman Quine.

This project is based on Ellen Lupton's Grid Project (PDF) at Thinking with Type.

For examples, see Thinking with Type and this page of examples.

Quine Exercise Guidelines

To begin: Open Adobe InDesign. Then, as needed, browse through the first two parts of this InDesign CS3 tutorial to familiarize yourself with the basic InDesign layout and tools.

Following the model for this assignment, create a new document in InDesign. Your document will have six pages, one for each variation. Your page size is 8 x 8 inches. Create a grid with 1/4-inch margins all around and four vertical columns with 1/4-inch gutters between them.

When your document appears on screen, use guidelines to divide the grid again horizontally.

Once you've set up your grid, arrange the simple version of the Quine text on the grid. Create FOUR different designs on four different pages, all using the same underlying grid.

Guidance and Requirements:

  • For two invitations: use Minion Pro, a serif font, or an equivalent font.
  • For two invitations: use Myriad, a sans-serif font.
  • Don't use center alignment for any of the text.
  • Use lots of white space. Try to use the white space to guide your user's attention. For instance: We generally think of the title of a document like this one appearing in a larger font than the rest of the content. But if all the textual content is set at the same size, how might you use white space to set apart/emphasize the title?
  • Avoid using all CAPS.

A note about font-size: Fonts tend to look smaller on screen than when printed. 12-pt type is relatively large for non-heading text. So try smaller sizes to see how they work.

A note on punctuation: You may modify or selectively remove the punctuation from the basic text, if necessary. Otherwise you must use the complete text on each page.

A note on content and organization: As we've seen, the information you're laying out is organized both hierarchically, by importance, and functionally. Some of the information is topical, that is, informing about the topic of the exhibit. It helps a user to decide whether or not they are interested in the exhibit. Other information is practical, helping the user get to the exhibit, get to it at the right time, and get more information about the exhibit, if needed.

In designing with these differences in mind consider: What will your intended document user notice first, second, third, and so on? How can you use layout to guide their reading of this short but diverse mix of information.

Saving and Exporting Your Quine Exercise

Save your work often. When you're finished, save your native InDesign file (.indd) in a location (or on a device) where you can access it again.

You should be able to complete this exercise in class. However, I encourage you to take one more look at the project and make adjustments. The finished work is due by the start of class next week. Submit a printed version and upload a PDF copy to your Information Design drop box on Sakai.

Note: Have the InDesign file (.indd) ready for next week's class; we'll go over "exporting" it into PDF format at that time.

Homework

Reading

  • Robert Waller, "Making Connections: Typography, Layout, and Language" (pdf). Waller will introduce us further to the key concept of genre as it applies to the field of information design.
  • Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information, chapter 1 ("Escaping Flatland"). Available on Sakai, under Resources.

You can purchase the text books from the Rutgers Bookstore and possibly used copies of some of the books from New Jersey Books, now on Easton Ave.

**Also, take another look at this helpful explanation of designing with a grid.

Reading Questions

Some weeks we'll have reading questions, some weeks we won't. This week we have the following two questions. Answer both; bring a printed copy of your response to the next class (black and white, double-sided prining is fine); and upload an electronic copy to your Sakai drop box.

1. Tufte, in "Escaping Flatland," specifies features of what he considers excellent information design and of what he considers poor or problematic information design. Find two examples of strong information design and one example of weak information design. Use the internet, a newspaper, or documents in your everyday environment. For each example, (1) include an image of the document and (2) specify what, according to Tufte's criteria, makes it strong or weak. QUOTE from Tufte in support of your assessment (and don't forget to give page numbers for each quotation).

2. In his article, Waller distinguishes between three kinds of structure to be found in a document: TOPIC structure, ARTEFACT structure, and ACCESS structure. Briefly, and as best you can, define each of these. Use quotes from Waller as needed.

3. What does Waller mean by an "error in layout"? Give two examples of this. Again: Use the internet, a newspaper or magazine, or documents in your everyday environment. Include an image of each layout and specify what the error is.

Reply to the Introducutions Thread on the Sakai Forum

Introduce yourself to the class. You'll find the thread on the Sakai Discussion List under "Class Discussions" (Sakai).

Quine Exercise

Complete the Quine exercise if you didn't have a chance to finish it in class. You should have four different layouts. Upload a PDF of your completed work to your Sakai drop box. Also: Have access to your finished work (via flash drive or online) in next week's class.

InDesign Homework

This exercise introduces you to some more essential basic InDesign techniques that you'll draw on throughout the semester.

Complete the 5-part exercise in Digital Foundations, chapter 13. Be sure to vary the colors (i.e., don't use red and blue but two other colors for the shape.)

When you're finished, submit the PDF version (not the .indd file) to the Information Design drop box on Sakai.

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