This post was originally published in 2018 to coincide with the publication of our Standards. We are reissuing it to coincide with a new initiative of plain language advocates […]
The multiple skills of information designers Managing this complex intangible process requires a range of techniques not usually found within the training of one individual. Good information design is most often the result of collaboration between a variety of individuals working in a team. The range of skills needed in such a team are interdisciplinary and come from ﬁve major areas: communicative arts, philosophy, systems analysis, ethnography, and negotiation.
For me, information design is not a cumulative pluralist tradition in which, over the years, I have added a diversity of insights from multiple disciplines. On the contrary, at each transition I have reconstructed the notion of information design, fundamentally reshaping what I mean and understand by its practice; in other words, I have changed the philosophical assumptions underlying my understanding of practice.
The error by the government estimating jobkeeper numbers could have been avoided had the Government not used of a poorly designed form. This is the view of Professor David Sless, Director of the Communication Research Institute (CRI), an international not-for-profit based in Melbourne, and a leading expert in public document design: those forms, bills, notices and statements that we all reluctantly put up with.
Form design in large organisations involves crafts at the micro level of document design, the customer experience level, and the management and politics level in an organisation. This seminal 1994 paper traverses all these levels. Below is a lightly edited version of the published paper. It also incorporates some content not available in the print version.