Information overload? Maybe it’s bad design

Information overload? Maybe it’s bad design

“Data, when presented elegantly and with respect, is not confounding but clarifying. ‘There is no such thing as information overload,’ Tufte says at the start of his courses. ‘Only bad design.’” –Washington Monthly

Edward Tufte is an information-visualization guru who is not afraid to debunk common wisdom, e.g. never use more than six bullets on a Power Point slide… or, never have more than seven folders in a matter workspace.

My highlights

The following points caught my eye because they succinctly describe vital guidelines.  The numbering and order is mine – the quotes are direct from Tufte’s commentary on his website.

Point number two is a succinct way to restate my previous post “When is training not the answer?”  User errors are not always a sign of insufficient training – sometimes they are the result of bad solution design.

  1. “On design, find something that works and is already successful–and see what they do. No need to get it original, just get it right. Surely, in practice at least, this is a solved problem. Find a good proven solution and use it.”
  2. “How are you going to minimize entry errors? Discover the types of entry errors that are made, and then redesign to fix them. Regard entry errors as your fault (even if they aren’t) and design to fix them.”
  3. “Allow for review, checking, and confirmation of answers by users before they commit (although this is probably a more complicated matter than a simple rule can handle).”
  4. “Error messages to the user should not be rude, abrupt, or perpetuate the confusion. That is, they should probably not be written by computer programmers. “

(from Edward Tufte, June 16, 2001 via Ask E.T.: Design of data INPUT )

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