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18 May 2011

Information design - starting with raisin biscuits

I still have the first recipe I ever wrote down. It set the course of my career.

It was on the school holiday radio programme when I was nine. I put it in the blank-paged book for collecting recipes that Mum gave me. It’s for raisin biscuits, and I still make it all the time.

I quickly filled that cookbook, starting with the baking section. When that was full, I commandeered the ‘sauces and gravies’ section for more cakes and biscuits.

Realising space was tight, I began to experiment with different ways of laying out the recipes so they took up less room but all the important details were captured.

Now I keep recipes on my laptop, so layout and space are not so important.

But I organise information for a living. Is space a problem? Is all the information there, in the order the reader needs it? Is it easy to follow? Can they find the information they need?

Whether you are making raisin biscuits, reading a webpage, or filling out a form, your basic needs as a reader are the same. Good information design is a must. The proof of the pudding is in the ease of understanding.

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