This week I thought I would look into a different type of information design. I pulled this image from my biology textbook, which demonstrates the concept of osmosis. An extremely important part of infographics is that it can help visualize very abstract concepts in a way that helps most people make sense of it. For example, I asked one of friends who is a biology major to help me with some bio homework and I had no idea what she was talking about when she tried to verbally explain osmosis to me. It wasn’t until she started drawing pictures for me that I really understood it. Again, for this type of information design, the audience is very broad. Textbook illustrations are meant to help beginners understand complex ideas in a simplified manner.
This type of information design will always make me remember back to several years ago when I attended a lecture from visiting guest speakers Kristine Johnson and David Elhert from Cognition Studio. I was just a sophomore at the time, I hadn’t even applied to the visual communication major and barely had any idea what the field of design could do, and I can still remember how impactful this lecture was. Cognition Studio does a lot of amazing work and part of what they do is scientific storytelling:
“Science is complex. Clarity is essential.
The pharma, biotech, and healthcare industries require accurate visual stories to make their complex science, products, and services understandable. Storytelling strengthens our client’s sense of agency by addressing their unique problems and opportunities with strategic creative solutions. We ask the whys, hows and what ifs that a target group may want to know… “listening” to their interests and needs before we craft a unique science story. Done well, our solutions are the conduit through which complex scientific findings transform into clear, compelling stories.” (cognitionstudio.com)
A specific example I found on their website was an illustration they did for Swedish Medical Center outlining Moyamoya Surgical Procedures. See and read the whole thing here: http://cognitionstudio.com/work/projects/moyamoya-surgical-procedures#.VNRJVitdWmQ I can’t share the images here but I encourage you to click that link and check them out! They did an amazing job visualizing several different surgical procedures and it really shows you the value of illustration and information design. This can be a fatal disease and obviously surgery is extremely risky, so for surgeons and even patients to be able to visually see what they’re dealing with is an incredibly powerful tool.
Lastly, since I couldn’t include an image for my second example I thought I’d share this last piece as well.
This is actually an interactive piece so I encourage you to check it out here to get the full experience:http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/play/what-is-consciousness/
But basically what this artist is doing is representing different definitions of what consciousness is. Again, consciousness is not something that can be easily represented visually. It’s not a tangible thing that can we see or touch, and it was completely up to the artist to come up with visual solutions to represent each idea.
Explaining ideas and getting other people to understand complex thoughts are not always easy to translate, but good design is the perfect visual aid.