The Information Experience

Heather info graphic

When creating new customer experiences, it's often necessary to help corporate stakeholders to make different types of decisions than they would make to evolve the current offerings.  Making different decisions is hard.  It's also scary.  But to be able to lead the market in new ways, it's necessary. 

One thing that I find makes this a bit less scary is to find a way to illustrate a new perspective in a tangible way, or to illustrate the implications of making the new decision.  To do this I rely on people who are good at information design.  People who are good information designers are often confused with skillful illustrators or graphic designers, but great information design requires something quite different.  Here are some examples:

A good information designer can synthesize vast amounts of information, and create visual images that make all the data easy to understand.  Good examples of this can be found in Randy Krum's work.  Check out his company InfoNewt here

There's also the infographic that presents complicated interrelationships of different types of information in a way that is more clearly understood.  An example is in the image above, done by my friend and frequent collaborator Heather McGowan - @heathermcgowan

And then there are the folks at Involution Studios who have done a bang-up job with health care data for me.

Regardless of the task, good information design alters the experience of the person receiving the message it is intended to communicate.  Think about your last presentation, or the latest industry report you read.  Far too often people miss the point the author was trying to communicate because it was buried in a clutter of words intended to be more complete and thorough.  Our brains are good at picking out main points, and the points that stick are the ones that stand out as signals through the noise.  We're not so good at finding needles in a haystack.

When trying to help someone understand the need to make a decision that may initially feel counterintuitive, it may help to get someone who is good at information design to illustrate the crux of the decision, and the implications of making, or not making, the right decision.  Nobel Prize winning economist with a focus on cognitive psychology Dan Kahneman researched in great detail the ways in which our decision-making changes with issues are framed in different ways as they are presented to us.

The way information is designed can be a powerful tool for reframing decisions that need to be made.  Good information designers present stakeholders with a different experience than they are used to, and can alter their preexisting biases for how they make decisions.  When you're trying to get your company to offer a new experience for your customers, the most important aspect of the experience you're designing may be in the way you present the ideas to the people you need to support it.