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Good Design is Organized.

March 19, 2009

John Maeda’s second Law of Simplicity is Organize: Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.

Human OrganizationI spent 10 minutes walking around my house capturing systems of organization. 

  1. Rocks picked up by my fiance’s son. They are organized by how long they have been on earth (we watched “How the Earth was Made” on the History channel this weekend)
  2. My moleskin weekly to-do list.
  3. Our plan to landscape the backyard this summer
  4. My Paper Source calendar with post-it note reminders
  5. My file folders
  6. A “Things to Do” list for the boys. Whenever they say “‘I am bored.” We say, “Look at the list of Things to Do”

These are perfect examples of how humans compose lists,  form piles, doodle drawings and sketch notes to help simplify complex information. In visual design, organization is most commonly seen and felt in a grid. This is obvious. But what about organization of words? 

Visual ThesaurusVisual Thesaurus does a great job using programming and data maps to organize words through theories and like-words. But what about visual information?

David Rumsey Map Collection

Ken Sakurai of Duffy and Partners sited these colorful maps and research data from David Rumsey’s Map Collection. They are gorgeous and just as relevant today as they were in the late 1800’s.  

Edward Tufte is the guru of analytical and information graphics. He has written seven books, including Visual Explanations, Envisioning Information, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, and Data Analysis for Politics and Policy. I SHOULD do an entire series based on his principles and findings. Like I said: GURU! Check him out. 

Edward Tufte Books

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2009 4:37 pm

    Love the rocks – it is amazing that the little ones are capable of organizing their thoughts at such a young age! There is a book I found recently while perusing at City Lights called “To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About U.” This book is a summary of all the lists I’ve made in my life! It really resonated with me and shows how creative we can be with our lists — see “things to do before I turn 30.” Besides, lists are fantastic not only for organization, but because you get to CROSS THINGS OUT, which is soooooo satisfying.

    • March 20, 2009 7:05 pm

      Agreed! I haven’t found the best way to keep a list yet; post-it notes, stickies, notebook, or my fiancé’s favorite: scraps of paper (I am not a fan of that one). I love that there is an entire book about lists. Organization translates and resonates with so many people in different ways.

      The book you mentioned, reminds me of Stefan Sagmeister’s, “Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far” here is a website where you can participate in the things you have learned in your life http://thingsihavelearnedinmylife.com

  2. Pam Gainor permalink
    March 21, 2009 2:28 pm

    The site http://thingsihavelearnedinmylife.com really resonated with me. Being a compulsive list maker, I’ve sometimes wondered if making lists really has contributed or is just another way to procrastinate!

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