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Dan Wong

How do you define Communication Design?

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One of my motivations for starting this forum is to open up the discussion to this field of study—how do you define Communication Design?

Institutional administrators intentionally leave such questions open, to be defined by our departments and the establishment. Yet the administrators are the final arbiters of our professional destinies.

So my first question to all design researchers, academics and faculty, seasoned and new, is how do you define your field of study? Is communication design as a term or a field even the final term?

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Communication Design is the parsing of information and presenting it in a way one can consume it quickly and meaningfully.

Graphic design and print design are most commonly considered communication design. But communication design is broader in scope. Although it is largely visual, it is not limited only to visual output.

A picture says a thousand words. Creating images is included in communication design. Images can quickly articulate a thought, idea, or concept. Therefore photography and illustration are examples of communication design.

Audio imparts information to those who want to consume it by hearing. So communication design includes radio and podcasts.

Motion and video is simply a series of images displayed over time, each which has meaning and message. So communication design could include movies, television, commercials, music videos, animations, etc.

Interaction design creates new ways to present information using new technologies. The Internet is a medium through which information is shared, and interface design, like the traditional print design, offers the user a way to select what is relevant using hyperlinks and navigation, much like indexes and tables of contents allowed print readers the same options.

Advertising is the industry's motivation to present information about products and services and influence behavior. Communication Design is also about behavior and influence. Branding is a part of advertising.

Ultimately text and data are most relevant, at least today because our current electronic technologies allow for the creation of algorithms and artificial intelligence to assess the text and data and offer insight and organization. This technology also offers the ability to assess large amounts of information quickly and test theories which may impact our understanding of our own thoughts. Some believe it allows us to be able to predict behavior.

I believe the explosion of interest and need for communication design is directly related to the adoption by the public of the Internet. Having worked in a research library in the early 1990s, I think about how information is accessed today and how things changed over time. Access to detailed facts (whether properly verified or not) is immediate and quick. We have watched how things moved from card catalogs to microfiche, to online databases and university-wide intranets, to the Internet.

 

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