IIID Conversation with Sheila Pontis, 4 May 2023, 15:00 UTC

A human-centered research clinic for information designers

Information designers know that they should create solutions that address users’ needs. We accept the need for human-centered research, and we promote it to our clients. But while some of us claim to do it all the time, in reality many find it hard to integrate this way of working into our daily practice – to find participants, to design studies, to identify what to ask, to interpret results.

Sheila Pontis, one of the foremost experts on human-centered research for information design, will introduce her own work, and answer your questions on how to bring research into practice. The session will be a dialogue, structured around your questions submitted in advance.

For example, you might ask: I’ve to create a visual explanation about quantum computing for children – how can I know where I should focus on or what concepts are harder for them to understand? I’ve developed icons for a multicultural venue – how can I be sure they’ll be understood? I’m working on information about a medical treatment but can’t get access to real patients – how can I work around this? How many people do I need to recruit to test a new app I’ve designed?

Originally from Argentina, Dr Sheila Pontis has degrees from the University of Buenos Aires (BA), the University of Barcelona (MA, MPhil), and London College of Communication, University of the Arts London (PhD). She is now based in the USA, where she teaches and researches at MIT, and is a partner at Sense Information Design, New York. Her research bridges and contributes to several domains, including creativity and well-being, information science, human-computer interaction, information design, sensemaking and cognitive science. She is also active as reviewer of several journals and conferences.

Sheila is the author of three books: Making Sense of Field Research: A Practical Guide for Information Designers (Routledge, 2018), Communicating Knowledge Visually: Will Burtin’s Scientific Approach to Information Design (RIT Press, 2021, co-authored with R. Roger Remington), and Information Design Unbound: Key Concepts and Skills for Making Sense in a Changing World (Bloomsbury, November 2023, co-authored with Michael Babwahsingh).

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