Information Design

Air India was first to get hold of the Boeing 787 carriers for Indian flyers. The aircraft is beautiful, inside and out. Just some basic but critical things that mostly all carriers ignore, in my experience.

I can never find the seat recliner button thing. I can be very forgetful, and I believe even if I am, the design or placement of the button or the signage that leads me to it should be accessible and intuitive. I shouldn’t have to ask for help every time. It can be very difficult for first time flyers.

I flew for the first time in a Boeing 787 and had some trouble understanding the seat recliner dashboard. My phone had died, so I sketched it out. I took me 17 minutes of serious deliberation and a very nice lady from the Air India staff to understand that the cool stylised lines were depicting a human body. The dashboard was very confusing in the organisation of the function buttons and there was practically no hierarchy anywhere. The lines and pictograms were far too stylised for anyone to comprehend.

I had made a redesigned sketch of it too, but I drew something for the gentleman seated next to me on the other side of that page, so I gave it to him. I think I will re make it from my memory, and update this post one of these days.




This is part 2 of my review of some articles in TOI Delhi’s Union Budget 2014 edition published on 11th July 2014. Read part 1 here.


This was an entire newspaper spread with several information pieces on tax and money. The articles or subjects of discussions are very clearly separated by content blocking through columns. In all, the page very clearly tells you what it is about. Because the ratio of the images to the text is relatively higher than usual, it is also more inviting to read.

Impact of Revised Taxes

Originally printed like shown below, this infographic panel talks about the revised laws.

Revised Taxes

Revised Taxes Revised Taxes


1. Using cakes to show impact of revised tax is very misleading. At a glance, I would assume these are stats for consumption of different kinds of cakes. But since this article was in the finance section of a newspaper, my brain put 2 and 2 together and concluded it wasn’t about cakes after all. As a user, I find this unnecessary. I shouldn’t need to spend so much energy assuming what this could be about. I cannot figure out why they have used cakes here and whatever the reason may be it fails to communicate itself to the user.

2. All the different salary brackets have been constrained into boxes. Each box contains two cakes – One representing the old tax liability and the other, new. Now, I know this because the descriptor says so. There is no visual difference between the old and the new cake. And neither are the slices of cake made to look like they are of different sizes – considering that is what is essentially being talked about.

3. Sms emoticons have been used next to the ‘impact’ number – showing positive impact with a  ‘ : ) ‘  and no impact with  ‘ : | ‘ . These smileys have a very texting-chat-web connotation and somehow suggests its association not to a subject of finance, but a service related to social media or communication. And overall, when seen with the cakes, it all feels like children’s recreation.

Post the Union Budget 2014, The Times of India – Delhi, on 11th July 2014, published their regular newspaper with a hefty feature on Money and Taxes for its readers. The day’s paper, though informative and very visual, was often misleading in its supporting infographics. I plan to analyse few of the articles from an information design / user perspective. Here is the first one.

Tax lift goes down, you’re up one floor

Page 02 // Times of India, Delhi // 11.7.2014

WP_20140711_012 WP_20140711_014

Incase you’re not too crazy about reading from badly lit photographs, you can find the entire article here. And incase you’re not too crazy about reading at all, the article talks about the exemption limit hike for tax payers in India, below the age of 60. It goes on to illustrate (through tables and figures) how much one can now save on taxes, based on his/her salaries.


My concern is this well-crafted 3D illustration of the Parliament House with a balloon that is flying out of it; that kind of looks like a football field and the Colosseum. I spent some time trying to really analyse it, hoping to get the message – or to see its relevance to the article. Until I do figure out the illustration’s intended meaning, here is where the information design already fails according to me:

1. The fact that the meaning is not instantly clear to me; that I, the reader, have to spend more than 2 minutes (in my case, 24 hrs and counting..) figuring it out is already a negative.

2. The illustration, whatever it may have intended to say, does not add anything to the article. The basic function of tables, charts and illustrations within a newspaper is:
a. To give an essence of the written article.
b. Summarise some of the important data ( like in this case, the tabular form for a quick overview)
c. To help the reader, visualise a space/situation/series of events

This illustration only suggests to me, that the parliament has something to do with the decision making. However, If I did not know what happens in the Parliament of India, or couldn’t recognise the building, this illustration would be irrelevant.

3. There is no descriptor of the illustration. Though I believe that the information must be designed so, that a descriptor must only be used if absolutely necessary; in this case, some information would be better than none.