An Introduction to Semiotics
Semiotics, a theory of how meaning is created through signs and symbols in our lives, is both a strategy for critical observation, as well as a model for expressing meaning-especially that which is less obvious or more deeply represented in culture. Semiotics is the study of the ways in which all language systems of signs function and evolve, relate to meaning, serve and transform their users, can be improved to fulfill new needs and meet new challenges.
In a future module of the course, Semiotics will be presented in more detail. The accompanying chart presents a simple but usable port of Semiotic theory. You will find these three distinct dimensions useful in creating messages and evaluating them. Check your information design example against these three criteria and use the questions to test the effectiveness of the intended application.
refers to the relationship of a visual image to a meaning. How well does the design or image represent the message? Do people fail to understand the message the design denotes? Do people from various cultures misunderstand the design?
refers to the relationship of one visual image to another. How does the design look? How well do the parts of the design relate to each other? Is the construction of the design consistent in its use of components (i.e. dot, line, shape, etc.)?
refers to the relationship of a visual image to a user. Can a person use the design for its intended purpose? Is the design legible in typical viewing distances and lighting? Is the design difficult to reproduce?