Graphic Design – Research, Elewij

Karel van der Waarde


Why do people still accept unusable documents?

Karel’s main area of focus is the writing, designing, and testing of information about medicines for patients and their caregivers. Mainly to make sure that patients, doctors, pharmacists, and nurses receive information that can be used in everyday life and practice. Safe, efficient, effortless. Unfortunately, he feels we are not there yet.


Apart from Karel’s commercial work in the medical-pharmaceutical realm, he involved in many academic activities (professor, senior lecturer, PhD examiner, validator, supervisor, editor, and more…) related to the writing, design and testing of information. He is also vice-president of the International Institute for Information Design (IIID) for education and research.

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Do patients really like incomprehensible and unusable information?’ (Why can’t taking pills be a pleasure?)


A fairly recent discovery in the medical world has shown that patients are very similar to real people. Patients vary enormously in their ability to read, in their experience with a disease, in their capacities to apply instructions, and in their personal contexts. We need to provide information as part of a strategy that is inclusive for all. Is that possible in Plain Language?


Join this presentation to:

  • have a good time by critically questioning some examples.

  • get upset by the avoidable waste in resources, time, and materials.

  • get excited by examples that show that Plain language, as part of an information strategy, has noticeable effects.

  • get some ideas how design is an integral part of developing information.


Two useful resources:

  • Web: The International Institute for Information Design IIID, Vienna. 

  • Book: ‘Information Design’ by Alison Black, Paul Luna, Ole Lund, Sue Walker (Editors) (2017) published by Taylor and Francis. This is an inspiring compilation of about 50 articles. It gives a good overview of processes, results, research, and practice.