Categories of Information Design

These categories are proposed in order to have a functional vocabulary of the different forms of information design. This list should not be viewed as a definitive designation, rather an evolving attempt at definition. Based on terminology in the book Information Graphics by Peter Wildbur, these categories have received additional critique and editing by Professor Deborah Beardslee, Professor Bruce Ian Meader and Young-Kook Kim at Rochester Institute of Technology.

1. Alphanumeric
Alphanumeric refers to information design that is based on lettering and typographic systems as applied in situations where legibility and ease of reading are primary in largely verbal and numerical information. In the instance of form design it is important to acknowledge the contribution of the user to the information presented in the completed form. Applications of Alphanumeric are Letterform design, Type design, Form design, Timetables, and Signage.

 2. Pictogrammatic
Pictogrammic refers to forms of non-verbal communication. This category is unique because it crosses language barriers. Frequently in information design settings, symbols are developed in systems or groups such as for the Olympics. Typical forms of the Pictrogrammic category are Symbols, Pictorial symbol, Glyphs, and Pictogram.

3. Product Interface
Product interface refers to those information design settings where the graphics identiy, inform and supply feedback about the state of operations by use of words and/or symbols. Typical applications of Product Interface are User product interface(analogue) and User interface(digital).

4. Diagrammatic
Diagrammic forms of information design are those which record and compile reasonably accurate figures over a period of time. Generally structured on an x and y axis. Typical applications of Diagrammatic information design are Graph, Table, Bar chart, Pie chart, and Time line.

5. Spatial/Cartographic
The Spatial and Cartographic category refers to maps and graphic networks for geographical uses. Typical applications of Spatial/Cartographic are Maps, Navagational aids, and Networks.

6. Hybrid:
Hybrid examples refer to those information design pieces which inform, explain and/or instruct the user. Often this category includes examples which are complex combinations of the other categories and spatial representations of an object or process. Typical applications of Informative/Explanatory are Training manuals, Informational graphics, Instructional graphics, and How-to guides.