President, International Institute for Information Design

Rob Waller

United Kingdom

Organizations that send out unclear information are morally responsible when people suffer consequences from not understanding it.  We should treat it as a preventable cognitive accident and take steps to stop it happening again. It’s about duty of care and risk management.

Rob’s recent work is in the growing field of legal information design, working to improve consumer and business contracts through plain language, usable design and visualization. His other current focus is the Information Design Summer School, which introduces non-specialists to theories and techniques that help to simplify complex information.

Semi-retired from a career in research, teaching and consultancy, Rob has more time now for renovating a 200-year-old stone barn, gardening and playing sax - where no one can hear him. His 1987 PhD explored the relationship between language and design, and he continues to look for

better ways to explain this and unify them in practice. Rob the current President of the International Institute for Information Design.

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What can information design contribute to plain language? (it’s about more than making it look nice…)​


Information designers and plain language writers have the same goals but bring distinct skills to the task of making information easy to read. Information design helps turn a linear text into a tool for active readers who need to skim-read, compare options, and carry out practical tasks. I’ll show the power of layout and visualization through examples, and I’ll discuss ways to introduce design thinking into writing: user journeys, risk assessment, layering, genres and pattern libraries.


Join this presentation to:

  • How information design encourages goal-driven, strategic reading.

  • Graphic editing: looking for opportunities to visualize information.

  • Design patterns: ready-made solutions to common design problems.

  • Layering: a design pattern for when content can’t be cut.


Two useful resources: