The information has always been the key to knowledge and visually communicating them is among the best practices. In today’s world, a lot of information is gathered through the digital or rather electronic media through mobile phones, tablets, laptops, television etc. Information is plenty in the form of data and we have multiple sources to access that information like internet, broadcasting etc. What becomes difficult is to relate that information to the queries and curiosities in our minds and improper instructions often lead to this. In India, as many as 813000000 lakhs of people access mobile devices daily as stated by Statista Research Department, August 2016. In this scenario, it becomes imperative to structure the information so well that it is received by intended users easily and understood properly. This task of creating better presentable information has been addressed by field-specific researchers and leading innovation agencies in multiple ways, but still, it becomes quite difficult to segregate the better-structured information than the irrelevant ones.
Once said by a comic artist and video game writer Brian Reed “Everything is designed, some are designed well”, brings us to first core necessity to understand why there is a need to design anything. To give a brief understanding, the term Design itself is a relatively newer term which was coined in the year 1919 by the first School of Design in the world – Bauhaus, a German school of Art which struggled even for its existence amidst the second world war. Before its coining there existed only Art, architecture, engineering and science as subjects studied and researched upon. Bauhaus gave the world an understanding of mixed approach for better usability of products and structured the world of design into physical products like a fan, chair, cars, jewellery etc. as Industrial Design and print media, advertisements, television etc. as visual products called Visual Communication, all of which were produced commercially. Information was still being made available before this period but it wasn’t meant to be received by a large audience. This period of industrialisation and modernisation gave rise to the use of appliances and technologies which were the primitives of the ones we use today. For example, Bill Morggridge who is considered as the father of interaction design put forward the four dimensions in the 1980s which affect any interactive space viz, 1. Words (content and keywords), 2. visual representations (Typography, diagram, icons, graphics), 3. Physical objects or space (environment), 4. Time of interaction (particular time & tenure) . Later Crampton Smith derived from the same readings a 5th dimension called Behaviour which defines the response of user or information seeker. In the modern times and through appliances and technologies when we try to address a larger audience, other core concepts start to surface like the audience demographics, psychographics, knowledge exposure, memory and cognition (ability to remember), medium & environment of accessing the information etc. which directly relates to the 5th dimension. To make information easily understandable and accessible throughout, it has become very important to present the information in a format accepted by the users or let’s say we need to structure the information well. The human mind perceives information in various ways. For example, a child has three probable stages of physiological development as stated by “Action theory and cognitive psychology in design” – Leshan Li, 1999, with the first phase is Assimilation where the child gathers information without any reaction to it, followed by Adaptation phase where a child tries to adapt new information along with the old one and finally Acclimatisation where the child tries to get settled with prior memories and starts to find relations and similarities. This is the tentative mental model of a child which can suggest age-appropriate learning pedagogies (Learning theories and methods) from which innovators can design toys or visual stories in print or digital format to be accessed by children of a particular age. It also gives us the opportunity to propose better mental development like colour and shape understanding exercises kids should perform. These are nothing but simple instructional design guidelines for creating new information targeted for a particular age group of users through the most feasible and accessible medium.
In the light of better information & presentation, we must always strive to understand the user and their behaviour. What may be very accessible to the average user may not be very suitable for the challenged one. These issues of the targeted user need to be addressed by their demography and physiography collectively termed as the user’s persona. Although there is a much deeper understanding required for evaluating information and segregating them as per persona, early-stage considerations can help us relate the most relevant tools and solving them through proper visual data. Another important factor is the Environment, which plays a very important role. Users today are already exposed to multiple devices and their behaviour is being stimulated by them. Any change in the usual routine may not be accepted by a large mass and so forth presenting information should also be in tune of their present habits and behavioural environment. This makes it easy for users to accept new information. Trendy applications on the internet and mobile have helped concepts like gamification and the virtual environment learning gain popularity. Many institutions and organisations have evolved with products which teach basic maths or science through games. In the end, it’s all about finding the most delightful way of exhibiting information and each time a better cognitive concept will formulate a new path for others to follow.