Digital Design Students Tackle Information Design

Today, we peer inside another corner of Digital Design: Information Design. What is it? Only one of the greatest – and most rewarding – challenges a designer can face. Information Design is about using design to create a kind of metamorphosis: harnessing its power to transform mere data into something meaningful. It’s about telling a story and making people care. And what could be more important?

Are you ready in the event of an earthquake? Are you looking for a more authentic travel experience? Do you know what e-waste is and understand the impact it has on today’s ecosystem? Do you find airline safety videos boring and forgettable?

By their third term, these Digital Design students were hungry. They wanted to sink their teeth into a big client-based project. Ambitious goals call for an ambitious design project, so we challenged students to transform otherwise obscure information and data points into narratives and visualizations.

For the designer, the project goes well beyond simply understanding information architecture and hierarchies – it dives deep into storytelling, and emotional and contextual design. Students must understand how to present information, define what that information means, and identify the best way to engage the audience. For this project, they execute a brief in one of three mediums: print, interactive, or motion design.

Execution matters. Students have to deal with with real world design constraints. They execute against a client brief and have to build a compelling information design piece in under 8 weeks.

Along the way, students need to consider the needs of the client and target audience. Are they considering the brand and business goals? When and where will the target audience be exposed to this information? What mood, tone, and language is most appropriate? How will students deal with pacing, emotional design, multiple user flows, and system dependencies? The project puts everything students have learned to the test.

When the dust settled on the final day of the term, many of the faculty came together to see students pitch their work. Teams presented seamless iPhone readiness and responses applications, print packages that included step-by-step guides, calendars, and important tips, and a powerful motion design piece with a unique style of photographs and vector characters.

Other teams showcased a deep sensory-driven motion piece that highlighted key e-waste facts while encouraging users to be accountable for their own environmental impacts and a beautiful story-driven motion piece that has us all dreaming of an authentic, cultural travel experience.

Collectively, we were blown away. As an educator, these are the moments I relish. We’re only halfway through their year, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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