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UAL Research Online

Guidelines for conceptual design to assist diagram creators in information design practice

Pontis, Sheila Victoria (2012) Guidelines for conceptual design to assist diagram creators in information design practice. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Pontis, Sheila Victoria

Today’s society is characterised by the production of massive amounts of information— freely transferred—and instant access to knowledge. This current overproduction of data is translated into complex diagrams to enhance the clarity. Nevertheless, it is commonplace in information design practice to find diagrams that are not communicating the intended messages. The act of conceiving the diagram takes place during conceptual design. This can be where misleading analysis and superfluous information organisation actions may lead to ill-conceived conceptual design, and therefore to ill-conceived diagrams, i.e. overloaded, unintelligible and disorganised. Existing tools for conceptual design of diagram creation do not properly meet design practitioners’ needs in that they tend to be excessively time-consuming to implement. This indicates a need for the exploration of new design methods focused specifically on the conceptual design stage of the process of designing diagrams.

This practice-led thesis presents one such possible design method, i.e. MapCI Cards, aimed at guiding experienced graphic and information design practitioners in the preparation of complex diagrams. MapCI Cards presents a collection of guidelines that make use of prompts and questions, in order to assist the conceptual design stage of diagram creation. The use of the proposed design method does not guarantee the production of outstanding outputs. The purpose of MapCI Cards is not to create aesthetic design; rather, it is to increase an understanding through guided content analysis and organisation of the information to be conveyed. Lists, draft diagrams, mind-maps and sketches are some of the possible resulting outputs of using the MapCI Cards. In short, the cards assist the development of the conceptual idea of the potential final diagram that will be developed in the prototype design stage.

The first stage of this research investigates how complex diagrams organise information, using the London Underground diagram as a case study. Analytical relational surveys are used to explore diagram creators’ decision-making processes. Sets of studies of diagram structures (Walker, 1979a; Tufte, 1983), design processes (Wurman, 1989; Jones, 1992) and information organisation (Wurman, 2001; Shedroff, 2003; Roam, 2008) are examined and combined. After this, the data collected are analysed using qualitative visual methods, and rearranged to develop the content in MapCI Cards. Two pilot workshops are designed as the revising and optimising methods. Then, five self-documentation cases drawn from practising information designers in the UK are conducted to test MapCI Cards within professional practice. The performance of the proposed guided approach to conceptual design is measured through an interpretation model, and key informants’ insights are used to delimit its conditions and limitations.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

The full text of this thesis has been restricted for copyright reasons. If you would like to view a copy of the thesis, please contact UAL Research Online.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: diagrams, information organisation, conceptual design, information design, London Underground
Date: June 2012
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2013 15:16
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 15:43
Item ID: 5684
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/5684

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