Information design and academic disciplines

Rob Waller

I've spent my life trying to make connections between information design and surrounding disciplines. I'm currently trying to get to the bottom of what content design is, reading books by Sarah Richards and Meghan Casey.

Coincidentally I just spotted a tweet by Sarah asking for thoughts about relevant research on readability, which led to others suggesting there are other relevant disciplines too. This took me back to a talk I gave a long time ago, which I reprinted in 2011 as Information design: how the disciplines work together

Other disciplines are relevant to us when they point to answers to our problems:

Graphic design: It looks awful
Design history: It looks like nothing they've seen before
Marketing: They don't want it
Branding: They don't like us
Market research: We don’t know who they are
Psychology of perception: They can't see it
Cognitive psychology: They don't understand it
Applied psychology: They can't use it
Text linguistics: They don't understand the argument
Sociolinguistics: They don't think you are talking to them
Clear writing/rhetoric: They don't understand the words
Journalism: It is boring
Information science/management: It doesn't tell them what they need to know
Information technology: They can't open the file
Interface design/HCI: They can't find their way around

I'd probably come up with a different list 25 years on, but I'm wondering which of my problems content design solves.

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