A Call to Action: Information Design for Project Initiation Documentation

A Call to Action: Information Design for Project Initiation Documentation

by Emily Cohen

Content should be designed to be intuitive and meaningful. That sounds obvious, right? But it is not always obvious for in-house designers that use “content” daily, in some form, to communicate with their internal stakeholders through a variety of process documentation. Particularly when it comes to creative briefs. Throughout our consultations we have reviewed thousands of project initiation documentation, including creative briefs, and are always surprised by how poorly they are “designed.” In fact, they are not designed at all. Rather, the form is generated within the constraints of the studio management software and thus the design of the document itself is never created with thoughtful consideration. We are often hired to “fix” the creative brief process by either (or both) the creative team or the requestor (clients and/or the marketing team). But what they rarely realize is an important contributing factor is how the documentation and content is designed. If it is not designed correctly, the requesters and the creative teams would not be inspired or engaged in the process.

“Information design intention is to not make something look nice so much as to create an entirely different sort of reading experience that encourages critical thought.” Thought being the critical word here. Great information design invites the reader to join in the process of interpretation, and will thus go a long way in improving how the requester and designer values and interprets the content.

Information design is an important trend right now (just look at Good Magazine, Fast Company, NY Times) and one that I think is particularly relevant to improving the effectiveness of internal communications.

My call to action is for in-house designers to use information design in creating important internal documentation, particularly project initiation documentation.

Emily has consulted with design firms and in-house corporate creative departments for over twenty years. During this time, she has provided confidential, best-practice insights and advice. She helps creatie teams improve operational effectiveness and helps companies build efficient teams and processes.

Emily currently serves on the board of advisors of InSource and on the AIGA In-House task force. Emily has also served as Secretary for the AIGA/NY Board of Directors and has taught classes and conducted seminars for many leading design schools and organizations. Emily is a frequently-requested speaker on business-related issues for the creative industry. Learn more at www.emilycohen.com and www.cohenmillerconsulting.com.


2 thoughts on “A Call to Action: Information Design for Project Initiation Documentation

  1. Evan Tabickman

    Wonderful article. I could not agree more. I always aim for this when working on a project in-house or freelance. I believe that information supporting imagery and imagery supporting information gives materials readers a much better shot at attention, cognition and remembering.

  2. George

    Very interesting stuff — and let me ask you something. Where is a good place to go to see a few nice ones? Ours is “ok” in the sense that it asks the right questions but, it is designed in msWord….

    I’d like to show how nice design can help make reading and understanding it less tiresome).