Smart Information Design

Smart

Showing intelligence or good judgment

Having or showing the ability to easily learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations.

[Merriam-Webster]

Information

That which informs, i.e. that from what data can be derived. Information is conveyed either as the content of a message or through direct or indirect observation of some thing.

[Wikipedia]

Design

A drawing or set of drawings showing how a building or product is to be made and how it will work and look.

[Cambridge Dictionaries]

Thinking inside the box

Great minds think different

Thinking alike may be productive in many cases, but sometimes it is the biggest hindrance to innovation. If Albert Einstein had tried to continue thinking like Isaac Newton, he would never have made it out of his clerk's job and into the Champions League of Physics. History has shown how one man with an outrageous idea, lots of passion and endless discipline can truly change the way we think about our world.

Does one size fit all? If every company was the same, with the same customers and the same problems that needed to be solved, then maybe a standard solution might work for all of us. But in real life, no two companies are identical, and even though similar components may work for many, the exact configuration of components and methods to be used deserves careful attention. Once your problem is clear, the solution will show itself.

The eyes of a stranger

Although modesty is really not my preferred style in anyone, I am not implying to be in the same league as the truly great minds I have listed here. I do have the ability to look at your situation from the outside, more than anyone in your company. I prefer to start my work without prior knowledge, without preconceived ideas about what the problem really is. Being a non-expert in your business is probably the biggest asset I bring to the table.

Take advantage of my ability to reflect your business back to you.

Write Less - Say Less

Reading is never the goal

Nobody reads manuals for pleasure. The rule of minimalism is that you only give the user the information they need, and only when they need it. Divide your information into clear sections that either describe a concept, define a procedure, or list reference information. And keep all your topics short, clearly structured and easy to find.

If you want to improve the quality of your output while optimizing the production process at the same time, contact me and find out how high the returns on a small investment can be.

Copying and pasting text leads to traceability issues, suboptimal localization and potential inconsistencies in your documents. With novel reuse methods, like DITA or text insets, you can minimize the editing efforts and localization costs, while creating better and more consistent documentation in more media (PDF, online help, web, eBooks, etc.).

Welcome to the world of optimised, cost-effective, minimalist documentation

Designs that might work

Why some designs suck

Companies who create the most succesful products have at least a handful of psychologists on their payroll. Any part of a product that is part of the man-machine interface (the graphical user interface, the help system but also the procedures that users have to follow to make the software work) should be carefully designed by a software expert on one side and a human expert on the other side. Software quality is decisive for the ruggedness of a product. Human factors are decisive for its success in the real world.

People will use your products to achieve something, not to pass their time. If they need information, people want it fast and easy. The functional design should support the action patterns that people normally follow when performing their tasks. Trying to change people's ways because it makes the software more efficient is turning the world upside down. This means that thorough task and user analysis should precede the design of your user interface. That analysis is not the job of a software developer or a marketeer. It is the domain of a usability expert who understands human behaviour.

A unique mix of talents

Having studied Applied Physics, Psychology and Philosophy, I bridge the gap between the technical world of developers and the seemingly illogical world of non-technical users. This puts me in an ideal position to design man-machine interfaces that work, both on the human and on the machine side.

The Geek Philosopher

Jang F.M. Graat

I studied Physics, Psychology and Philosophy before embarking on a fast-track career in the international high-tech computer industry. I started my own company in 1994 and created large amounts of technical documentation, training courses and websites in a wide variety of business domains.

I am not easily satisfied with existing products and strive to perfect them wherever I can. This attitude has prompted me to keep learning about new and exciting technologies.

I have picked up programming skills in VBA, ASP, PHP, JQuery, XSLT, Java, C++, C# and JavaScript. I am an active and progressive member of the DITA community.

Location (well, almost)

Hendrik Soeteboomstraat 32 1035 NX Amsterdam, Netherlands Cell: +31 6 4685 4996 E-mail: info@smartinfodesign.com

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