Information Product Analysis

This is the first of two parts which is an analysis of an existing information product designed for an audience and specific content/purpose while the second part is an example of an information product and justifications of certain decisions made regarding its design.

-Zarah Arroyo
Master of Digital Information Management
University of Technology Sydney

Analysis of An Existing Print Product

The material for evaluation is the weekly newsletter by UC Davis Washington Program which has parallelism in the information product I worked on for this paper in terms of content and intended audience. The content of the material is on endangered species and intended audience is the museum/zoo visitors. 

Printed materials in general are required to follow standards of design, fairness, accuracy, reliability, objectivity and statistical validity for quality control. Norman (2002) in his book “The Design of Everyday Things”, he argues that a good design does not only have to be attractive and/or beautiful but it has to work better where usability is positioned in a proper place in the design, emphasizing equal to beauty, equal to function: equal, but not superior. In order to create a logical assessment of the printed material, the standard adopted for evaluating the newsletter is the readability and findability concepts presented in Week 6 class which is composed of three areas namely visual elements, logical structure of the document and identification of dominant design elements. 

  • Visual elements (page layout, text and graphics, colour)

The material understudy which is the newsletter appears to have achieved its aesthetic requirement as the colours used do not overpower the information which needs more attention. Albers (1963) mentions that colours when used effectively and consciously can perform many different roles.  The colours are pleasant to the eyes because of the hue used perceives calmness at the right areas and strong pink hues used draw attention to strong points in the article. In terms of layout, visual design should not only focus on what is aesthetically pleasing but on how well they work (Garrett, 2010). The layout is easy to navigate as it made use of signposts such as headings and subheadings having them printed bigger than the body text. The reading path adopted is the conventional one which is from top to bottom and left to right which is generally the acceptable way to read printed text. The print is linear meaning it is sentence by sentence, and there are no complications in the way sections are separated through the grid layout and bi-modal which means the images and text are by block. The graphics specifically the images used are relatively relevant and enough to compliment the information presented in the text. Sinclair (1999) emphasised that readability is utmost important that no matter how beautiful it is, or a specific typeface or text arrangement is not good typography unless it is readable. 

  • Logical Structure of the Document 

The document is chunked in a way that the information is not overwhelming to read. Since the target audience are visitors in the museum/zoo who are expected to be interested only on what is essential, so the article need not to be lengthy or wordy. The various sections are visually divided by modular grid and are also labelled as visual cues. Images are chunked and placed in the areas to provide visual breaks. This is also a manifestation of the Bauhaus influence where white space is an element of the structure. The content is clear, well-researched and free of bias. The words used are understandable by the general public which means the terms used are culturally and politically acceptable. The tone is strong and captivating as the articles progresses from informational about the endangered species to a call for action and involvement to the advocacy. 

  • Identifying Dominant Design Elements

Lynch and Horton (2002) made mention that typography plays dual roles as both verbal and visual communication. The choice of the right typeface, font, and even its size convey meaning. The newsletter made use of the sans serif font style all throughout the article. Although there are some words which needs emphasis that made use of a different font style which I think is effective. However, studies show that for long reading, the use of serif fonts are considered more readable since it links letter in a word and provides a horizontal guideline. As to the standard unit point for body text, the newsletter used a considerably the right size for easy reading. The modular grids are appropriate and the spaces around and within text are consistent and provide spatial cues. 

Generally, the newsletter is appropriately designed for the intended audience and content it aims to provide. As I planned for my own information product, I have considered various points taking from the newsletter which I evaluated. Focusing on the strong ones like the logical presentation of the articles and the layout of the graphics and text. Not having to compromise the beauty and aesthetic aspect as well. 

Own Information Product designed is in another article. Please find time to check it out.

– Zarah Z. Arroyo

References:

Falk, J., 2010, Understanding Museum Visitors’ Motivations and Learning, viewed online 18 September, 2019, https://slks.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/dokumenter/KS/institutioner/museer/Indsatsomraader/Brugerundersoegelse/Artikler/John_Falk_Understanding_museum_visitors__motivations_and_learning.pdf

Garrett, J. J. 2010, The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond, 2nd edn. New Riders, Berkeley, CA. 

Lang, Chris, Audience Research, 25 July 2011, viewed online 16 September, 2019, https://media.australianmuseum.net.au/media/dd/Uploads/Documents/22103/Australian+Museum+Visitor+Profile+2008-2011.52e12a3.pdf

Microsoft Publisher, https://www.grantmcgregor.co.uk/2015/microsoft-publisher/

Morville, P. 21 June 2004, The User Experience Honeycomb Semantic Studios [online],

http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000029.php.http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000029.php

Norman, D.A. 2013, The design of everyday things, [e-book] Basic Books, New York

Norman, D. A. 2002, ‘Emotion and design: Attractive things work better.’ Interactions Magazine, ix (4), 36-42, https://jnd.org/emotion_design_attractive_things_work_better/

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