I’m a writer, editor and designer – formerly full-time, currently part-time, occasionally freelance – and my speciality is really information design, which means finding the best way to present information, especially if it’s complex or specialised or just in a bit of a mess.
On the internet and increasingly in Real Life TM this kind of thing is called user experience (or user-centred design, or just usability) and includes information architecture, and it’s what I’ve been doing for the last twelve years. If a website is easy to use, and you can find what you want without getting frustrated, that’s down to good IA, or UE, or UX – this is new media, so we have to change the names of things every few years. (I can do this as a part-timer or a freelance, and I also write and edit online copy.)
In print, information design is what magazine sub-editors do a lot of – checking that every article has a logical structure, and includes all the information the user will need to make it useful. (I’ve worked as a magazine sub, production editor, and deputy editor, and done voluntary work as an editor and a designer, and would be happy to take on paid work involving any of these.)
But good information design is even more important for complex documents such as ISA application forms, mortgage brochures, and pension statements, in which it’s vital to use plain language and a logical structure – which generally means focusing on user needs. (I can do the writing, or the editing, and sometimes the design too, and do any of this as a part-timer or a freelance.)
Lately I’ve been building databases in MailChimp and designing email campaigns – another combination of writing, usability, design and technical knowledge.
Information design is something I’ve done instinctively all my life, in one way or another. I just don’t like muddle!