Basic Information Design for Proposals
“Information Design” is a much-maligned term. It usually refers to the process of organizing and delivering information in a way that is easily used. Many things can benefit from good information design: wayfinding, document design, web design, and so on.
When you are creating a proposal, you want to do it in a way that maximizes your chance of winning. Good information design can contribute to that goal by simplifying the evaluator’s job – making it easy for the evaluator to find and grasp the information you present.
I usually consider a pragmatic approach to information design for documents; one that focuses on four elements:
- Syntax. This defines the ordering and relationship between different information elements. Usually expressed as a hierarchy within any individual document, but the nature of hypertext documents means that a complex web can exist.
- Semantics. This defines the meaning of each information element within the document.
- Style. This defines any stylistic constraints or rules that you want to apply to the information.
- Presentation. This defines the way the information elements looks graphically.
What you do with these elements is driven by the answers to two questions:
- Who is in your audience?
- What do you want them to do with the information?
Armed with this information, you can begin the design process. In a series of future posts, I will explain more about the four elements and the two questions, then outline a procedure for creating an information design. Once you are finished, you can use that design for a series of documents of the same type. And if the design is good – and your proposal adheres to the design rules – then you improve the chances that evaluators will understand your story. (Whether it’s a good enough story to win is a topic for another post.)