We are, respectively, a cognitive psychologist (Black) and information designer/researcher (Walker), researching the impact of the design of information design on its communicative effectiveness. Black is currently Director of University of Reading’s Centre for Information Design, within its Department of Typography & Graphic Communication. Walker is a leading researcher on the design of children’s (printed) books. We are co-editors of the forthcoming ‘Gower Handbook of Information Design’ (along with Dr Ole Lund).
We are deeply committed to understanding the reading needs of individuals, particularly for consultative reading, and are carrying out research in this area, looking at how the visual design of electronic text influences people’s use of text content. We use a range of approaches from highly controlled lab-style methods to more naturalistic, qualitative approaches. Our current focus is the design and use of functional texts, such as government information regarding climate change, health advice etc. We have contributed research context for the development of style guidelines for gov.uk, in order to maximise information access and readability. Our research focus on consultative reading may both have some overlap with but also be distinctive from reading of continuous texts. Nevertheless, consultation is part of educational reading and consultation of generally available sources is part of education practice. The delivery of functional texts from organisations to individuals via electronic rather than printed media raises further, as yet relatively under-researched issues, relating to the social impact of these texts, which we believe merits research.
Black, A. and Stanbridge, K. (2012) Documents as ‘critical incidents’ in organization to consumer communication. Visible Language, 46 (3). pp. 246-281. ISSN 0022-2224
Walker, S. (2005) The songs letters sing: typography and children’s reading, Reading: National Centre for Language and Literacy, 2005 [24pp] ISBN 07049 98467