A heavenly piece of information design

Today I had an email request from an ex-colleague who was looking for, in her words, ‘an info design archetype’. The stipulation what that it was something visual, where the text had not been changed. What she was looking for was an example where, purely through design, a document had been made to look simpler.

I set my brain into gear, and came up with The Guardian newspaper design. My answer was approved of, and I was happy, but then I had another thought. Something that had long since slipped to the back of memory, largely because it’s not something I see on an everyday basis. And this is what it was: it’s the service from when my daughter was christened, and it’s a fabulous example of what can be achieved with some simple typography.

Now let’s be honest, some people consider the church service as something of an inconvenience when it comes to christenings. What this document does by using plenty of space is make the service appear as several short parts, rather than one long one. This is a well known trick to help people accept the amount of information they have in front of them. Another strong feature of this design is the way it makes people feel very at ease, using notes to guide them through the service and clearly prompting them about what they are expected to contribute to the proceedings.

As I trawl through the design features of this document, more than five years after I first saw it, I start to realise what it is for. As much as it is about making the text more legible and structured, it is equally about making people feel welcome within the church.

No matter how much I complain about the resistance of clients to change, I imagine it would pale into insignificance against what the designer of this had to face.

One thing is for sure, the text in this won’t have changed – not for centuries.

3 thoughts on “A heavenly piece of information design”

  1. Hey Rob, Great example here. Brilliantly executed, and really nice typography treatment. I like the fact that the designer has only used two colours, and used variations of the typeface to differentiate the required action. I must say, the added space and leading really does help. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could put to use these simple practices in our everyday work? Sometimes it’s possible, but in a lot of cases, I find that the client simply requires the copy to be correct from a legal stance and fit within the specified area, regardless of how illegible the copy is. I’ll have to show you a letter I received from Dell the other day. The small print on the back must have been about 4pt and looked as though it was scanned in. Terrible work, but might be a nice project to redesign/re-write and showcase?

  2. Thanks for the comment Chris.

    You’re absolutely right about the space on the page. The whole document is spread over 6 pages, with the amount of space many designers can only dream about.

    Far too often clients spend their time trying to make words fit into the least possible number of pages, presumably because they think it’s virtuous from an environmental point of view, or that the bit they save in print costs makes up for the poor experience their customers have dealing with dense text.

    Whizz the Dell letter over and I’ll take a look! No doubt I’ll find plenty of fault with it.

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