kimberley crofts


an information and communication designer living in London

Explanatory voices

Rob suggested the following for some research avenues:

Perhaps what all these have in common is that they are all a kind of additional voice explaining what you are looking at. This suggests that a theoretical approach could be to look at writer-reader relations, reader response criticism, semiotics (what is best communicated by what channel).
I think you need to start with some kind of definition, out if which might come your line of enquiry.
In terms of research, there may be stuff on TV/film subtitling, although I’m not well versed in it. There could also be material on picture captions, or at least the way that pictures and text work together – as a start, you could look in the world of educational psychology. Names include Dwyer, Winn & Holliday, Duchastel.

Filed under: dissertation random ideas,


If information design is about meaning-making (see quote below) then if an audience participates in the meaning-making process does it follow that the information will be more successful?

Ways of participating:

  • Interviews (from which a design strategy is devised)
  • User testing (testing of the design within the target audience)
  • Participatory design (engaging the audience in the creation of the document).

This is not any sort of revelation but is a fairly basic description of user-centered design. Would an investigation into documents created in this participatory way reveal anything interesting? Have they been tested for success? Can any conclusions be reached if not?

I am struggling with understanding to what level I have to create original content, as in, can my dissertation just be a collection of other people’s research or should I create my own studies? How the hell would I go about this if so?

Brings me back to the question: what are the gaps in the research? Where can I situated my dissertation so that it provides something worthwhile to the area? Should I be looking to write a dissertation about an area I want to work in after my studies?

My idea that I had during the DD4D conference would probably yield more original thought as I cannot find any material (as yet) on it. I was looking at how captions can aid literacy. A fairly broad theme that could encompass film, TV, print, and online communications. What is a caption and how is it used to aid understanding? How do captions aid meaning-making of texts? Where should they be placed and how should they be designed to maximise understanding without adding confusion to the document?

Filed under: dissertation random ideas, , ,

Design toolkits for community organisations

Look at the design and structure of ‘toolkits’ developed by information designers FOR community-based organisations to use in their own communications?

Filed under: dissertation random ideas

Participatory design for community education

How do people with low levels of literacy access important information about their lives? If there is such a high level of people with low literacy in the world (XX), then it is important to consider how we communicate to them information about such important topics as health care, employment, and human rights.

Research into ways that documents can be designed for maximum access is fundamental to helping those with low levels of literacy function adequately within society. Much can be said about clear typography, plain language, and organised layouts – but if the document does not engage the reader then will they remember the information and be able to use it?

Ways of using document design to truly engage a reader might include: the use of visual and verbal styles that ‘belong’ to the target group (located by way of ethnographic research); including the audience in the design process and using methods of participatory design to create a culturally appropriate document; or a combination of the two.

This paper will investigate ways that community-based organisations have used combinations of ethnographic research and participatory design to improve the chances of a message reaching and being used by the intended audience. The intention of the study is to identify common tactics of community-based, participatory design that lead to successful communication and education.

Examples of projects:

In participatory design projects, the audience is included in the research, prototyping, and design phases. Constant monitoring of the message and development of content in relation to the intended audience results in a more appropriately designed message. It is a process where the ego of the designer is secondary to the needs of the audience: the designer’s role is to collect, organise and synthesise the content that is co-authored and produced within the project. It is not a top-down process where the designer creates content FOR an audience, but where the designer helps an audience to create content for themselves.

Filed under: dissertation random ideas

Unique formats of information design for education

What if the dissertation was about the use of unique and innovative formats to educate? This could be for a wide variety of audiences, but with the similar aim of access and understanding through contextual appropriateness.

So you could consider the AIDS posters created collaboratively with a community affected by HIV as much as you considered Liberia’s Blackboard Blogger and the Living Newspaper theatre.

What is the designers role in an area where the audience is responsible for shaping the format of the information? What methods have designers (etc) used to help audiences choose the best method for the telling of their stories?

How does format affect understanding for different audiences? Does one audience better understand a parituclar format over another?

Filed under: dissertation random ideas,

Visuals for Information

Visuals for Information
Rune Pettersson 1988

Page 90: According to Lanners (1973) we only see the things that affect us emotionally. Everything else is ignored. When we look at a picture, we first discover the cues we already recognise.

Page 93: Our western society is domination by the written word and [is] extremely quadrangular. It is a society in which bureaucrats occupy quadrangular cells in such a way that creative and intellectually lively people are perceived as disturbing and disruptive features of the prevailing order. New ideas are effectively stifled. This leads to stagnation, industrial crises and breakdown of the social fabric.

Download the whole book here

Filed under: book, dissertation random ideas, visual literacy, , ,

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