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Designing Information: Human Factors and Common Sense in Information Design 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1118341971
ISBN-10: 111834197X
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The essential, full-color guide to understanding information design and how to make it better

Featuring hundreds of full-color problems and examples, this comprehensive guide discusses and illustrates approaches to designing complex data and information for meaning, relevance, usability, and clarity. Described and analyzed in lucid text and over 500 illustrations, examples include successful, compromised, and failed designs covering everything from parking signs and road and statistical maps to explanations of the appropriate use of line, color, and form. The book provides incisive and useful insights into the process of visualizing complex information and communicating it in a simple, honest, and accessible form. Some of the many topics covered include:

  • The nature of information
  • How we perceive, communicate, and understand
  • Dimensionality, proximity, numbers, and scale
  • Organization and typography
  • Movement, orientation, and situational geography

Praise for Designing Information

"This is a terrific book.
"I began working with Joel Katz 40 years ago. We learned from observing each other, which allowed us to discover maps that lead to understanding.
"This volume is just that.
"The journey from not knowing to knowing is from ignorance to understanding, from complexity to clarification. This book was done by one of the few who have mastered what I used to call 'information architecture,' and what I perhaps should have called 'understanding architecture.'
"The book itself is a diagram of clarification, containing hundreds of examples of work by those who favor the communication of information over style and academic postulation—and those who don't.
"Many blurbs such as this are written without a thorough reading of the book. Not so in this case. I read it and love it.
"I suggest you do the same."
—Richard Saul Wurman

About the Author

Joel Katz is an internationally known information designer and authority on the visualization of complex information. He teaches information design at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His design work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York and the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto. His photography has been exhibited in the United States and Europe. He is coauthor, with Alina Wheeler, of Brand Atlas and is a founding member of AIGA Philadelphia.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 111834197X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118341971
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Keymer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This fine book, half textbook and half just fun to read, will sit on my bookshelf next to Edwin Tufte's classic The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983), Tom Kelley's The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm (2001), and Henry Petroski's The Evolution of Everyday Things: How Everyday Artifacts -from Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers -Came to Be as They Are (1994). That's how good this book is, even for the non-designer like me.

The layout of the book is itself a model of what Katz preaches, from the eminently logical placement of the page tabs (they're in color, a different one for each chapter, and they move down the page as the book progresses from start to finish) to the presentation of alternative solutions (which include his students' solutions to problems posed to them), to graphic design problems, to the minimization of extraneous text on each page.

Katz has a robust sense of humor which he deploys to make points that might otherwise be lost to view. Thus he quotes Miss Piggy on one page (p. 79): "Never eat more than you can lift." The quotation is both funny and illuminating because he is talking about information overload there. (The two other highlighted passages on the page are a quotation from Bruno Martin - "Data-rich is often information-poor."--and Katz's own question of the reader: ""Would you rather have your audience read all of less or none of more?"

This stimulating and rich book is a credit to its publisher, Wiley. They must have assumed there was a market for it. I don't see how there couldn't be, it is so useful. Its attractiveness is just a side benefit of Katz's lively mind.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Three pages in I wanted to stop and write this review but forced myself to read the rest of the book before writing. My opinion was unchanged. "Designing Information" is a delightful, delectable, informative, visually rich, entertaining exploration of the business of making information more accessible. It's a remarkably broad tour of types of elements relevant to good design. I especially loved the sections on forms, signage, maps, and iconography -- things I find frustrating in my daily life. Information is not only useful for those who deal with visual design issues: those involved in instructional design will appreciate the discussion of noninformation and uninformation. (Those who work with compliance, policy, and HR training will recognize all too well the challenge of dealing with uninformation: probably true, probably not important, possibly interesting.) The book is bursting with examples, many supplemented with suggestions for more examples and additional readings. This may be the most visually exciting book I've ever seen, interesting for poring over and fun to just flip through. Also suggested: Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things and Connie Malamed's Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand. Katz's "Designing Information" is a HIGHLY recommended treat for anyone who works with information, instruction, graphics, or art.
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Format: Hardcover
Many great designers don't write well. Joel Katz does. The result is an enormously valuable book for both designers and educators and even more significantly, the rest of the population that daily engages in graphically designing their web-sites their memos, their proposals etc. etc. Katz's writing style is matter-of-fact at the same time that he offers sophisticated examples and insights. He is adept at finding the root of a design problem --showing how something looks is not the same as showing how it works, for example--and therefore offers the reader a wealth of ahaa moments. I teach writing, but these days that often involves teaching students how to present their writing in graphically engaging and informative ways. This book is proving a valuable resource for me.
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Format: Hardcover
I should have expected nothing else from a book on information design where already the backcover is completely overloaded. Still, I wonder. How can the author on one hand say in the very beginning (!) that information is what's "definitely true" and "vitally important" and on the other hand cram this book with so much "uninformation" which is not important and distracting? Perhaps it's because I'm a Swiss designer and not used to American design but I really had a hard time reading. Tons of big colourful images and big red marginal notes set closely to the main text (which is set in a very light font and becomes the least important of all) were distracting me. In some cases I had to cover up the page in order to read the main text.

The content of the book is for the most part superficial. Full of platitudes it doesn't measure up to the the subtitle of the book. It would bear thorough abbreviation without loosing essence. Like on the pages 36-37: The point could have been made in a single sentence and there's no need for illustration as everyone is familiar with spam mail. But there are 4 big pictures and 14 marginal notes! Or page 45, where the same example is explained twice - once in the caption and once in the main text. This happens over and over in the whole book and makes me ask which part of the text I'm actually meant to read. Also, there is a completely random highlighting of text. Why is the sentence "Every silver lining has a cloud" so important, that it needs to be set in bold and why is it necessary to do this every time the sentence shows up? Haven't I already noticed it the first time?

For me this book is a classic example of how you shouldn't do it.
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