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Tufte on the Web

March 8, 2010
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Tufte also talks about websites. He gives an example of a website interface he has developed for a museum (unclear if a real or imagined one). “Free of icons, decorative logotypes and navigational apparatus, about 90% of the image is substance, a contextual overview describing the reservoir of data. In an architecture of content, the information becomes the interface.” [Bold mine, italics orginal.]

I find this quite a powerful way to think about the web, indeed, any sort of design.

I really like his way of judging websites to see if they’re effective:

“Direct measurement of content and non-content provides a quantitative assessment of an interface; these measures of the informational performance of a screen include:

  • the proportion of space on the screen devoted to content, to computer administration and to nothing at all;
  • character counts and measures of typographic density (making comparisons with printed material as well as computer interfaces);
  • the number of computer commands immediately available (more are better, if clearly but minimally displayed).”

These are sturdy measures of any sort of design, I think (within reason/with reasonable adjustments according to the context: obviously a poster might not get at the same typographic density. But if you think about the action–just making sure that MOST of the action in a poster comes from the content rather than any sort of decoration.)

To information as interface!

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