Navigating Information

CMU Mdes 2016 Fall, Communication Design Studio, Project 1


The first Communication design class kicked off with little wind-up toys generating expectation and curiosity among students. Stacie asked us. “To what direction would this toy pig walk and move? and what would its movement look like when its springs are unwinded?” Some responses came out here and there, which based on assumptions from the way the toy looks like.

Guess how it works!

A form implies a ton of information and we decode it by reading the form. This process of information acquisition is a lot powerful. We cannot just avoid the information and think about the reliability of it because this process happens unconsciously and instantly.

In the class workshop and The LATCH principles by Richard Saul Wurman

Besides the way to extract the hidden information, there is another way to make up a meaningful information. Data itself doesn’t really matter, whereas once it is organized and analyzed, viable information starts to unveil. Richard Saul Wurman developed 5 Hat Racks — or LATCH — which are useful for organizing data: Location / Alphabetical / Time / Categorical / Hierarchical.

Taking this into account, my partner, Ashlesha, and I will are going to investigate and analyze our news sources over the following week.

The first project of CD Studio, Navigating Information where we are looking for the way to help citizens be able to carefully interpret information and to become better informed has just begun.

My news sources : PBS / CBS / Wall street Journal

20160831, initial analysis

Before get started, as a foreigner having few Idea about the news sources below. I hope this could be advantageous to examine information from the unbiased stance.

PBS Newshour_20160831

Initial Perception

The front page of PBS Newshour appears to be bold and simple, which makes me less intimidated by a flood of information and easily keep going to scroll down. Overall, it seems to be reliable.


Focus : PBS Newshour menu bar contains the following categories: Politics, Arts, Nation, World, Economy, Science, Education, Teachers, The rundown. What is quite noticeable is that the Arts comse second just after Politics. In Addition, there is Teacher which provides educational news contents. This indicates that PBS places high value on Arts and Education which help me to assume it less focuses on commercial / industrial issues like business.

Media : Simple text. Large journalism-ish photographs catching reader’s eyes. Limited numbers of motionless advertisements. No video, unless move to Recent Program page which delivers video news clips of PBS TV channel — I haven’t known that PBS is a television broadcast distributor.

Voice : Headlines seems to avoid using adjectives and try to be as neutral as they can.

Visual features

Page Structure : Horizontal header divides the website into two sections. Upside section’s text buttons are the hyperlinks to different services of PBS brand. Downside one serves only for PBS Newshour, which has the two columns: the main column has about double width of the sub column.

Hierarchy : Top stories are the most prominent at first. It leads readers to scrolle down and to find articles within four different themes. Readers could load more articles on the bottom or go back to the very front page to access to the main menu bar. There are a few level but the gaps between the levels are big.

Color : Limited color variation: Red, navy, plus black and white. Based on white background, navigators — the menu bar, category indicators, and the column border and elements, easily draw attention with these colors.

Typeface : PBS Newshours utilizes humanist style san-serif typeface across the website. It creats trustful and somewhat friendly voice of the news agency.


Initial Perception

CBS’s the front page looks like a common news website in terms of the layout for me. I think this would be beneficial if the agency wants to easily earn credit from readers at the expense of tedium.


Focus : compared to other news outlet I’ve assigned, it seems to focus more on national issues rather than global events. Also, it was interesting that it has “Crime” category in its main menu bar and lots of crime-related articles.

Media : There is a prominent red banner at the top-right of the homepage. It guides readers to the web page of CBS live streaming news. As a television distributor, it incorporates a lot of video clips in not only the front page but also with in an article. It utilizes images quite a lot but, not like PBS, they are seperated and scattered.

Voice : Headline is Somewhat ambiguous headlines but subtitle suppliments it. Overall voice seems like to be urgent and strong because of the combination of headline, subtitle, and images.

Visual features

Page Structure : Just like PBS, Horizontal menu bar serves as the main navigator and divides the front page into two parts. Below the menu bar, there are three columns: the main colums are for the top story and the latest news from different categories. The side columns contains featured articles like “the spart: stories that inspire”, “Most popular”, and “eyes on 2016” with many videos clips from CBS TV channel.

Hierarchy : The hierarchy between each news elements are not that big but very sophisticatedly calculated so that it is easy to distinguish.

Color : Mainly dark gray and deep red. It manipulates the color scheme cohesively in the front page. However, because of colorful imagery, the color scheme is not that remarkable.

Typeface : It uses heavy san-serif typeface to headline and use gray serif to sub headline. The combination gives a strong imporession at first glance.

The Wall Street journal_20160901

Initial Perception

When the website popped up, the logotype of The Wall Street Journal and the wide advertisement caught my eyes first. It feels like a analogue newspaper. Numbers on the top and at the left column is interesting and make me assume the news outlet’s interest.


Focus : As the numbers and graph of the stock market data shows, it has unique menu such as martets and real estate alongside economy and business. There are strong evidence of the news sources focus.

Media : It is text-heavy and has less images relative to other news sources. Even the images are relatively small. It corporates a video which can be played directly without jump to the other page and realtime graphs.

Voice: Because of the density of text, it feels like a quick announcement. Headlines seems to stay in facts rather than proviking curiocity or sensationalizing.

Visual features

Page Structure : The layout mainly consists of four columns given similar value one another along with horizontal menu bar and advertisement dividing the website into the two part. Its menu bar keeps stay on the top while readers are scrolling down the homepage.

Hierarchy : There are only few levels as well as small gap in terms of hierarchy. Therefore, the choice of an article is left to the readers.

Color : It mainly uses black as the color identity but employ light blue and red for functional reasons, such as emphasising.

Typeface : Its typeface feels classcal and elegant. It reminds me a gentle man. The typeface is quite condensed so it can deliver a lot of text as muc as possible.

20160901, Change the perspective and ask “why”

In today’s class, we talked about the Denotation and Connotation. Denotation refers to the actual meaning, wherease connotation refers to hadden or implied meaning. It made me pose a question about what the news sources are hidding in the form of homepage, in the headline, and in the selection of the top stories. They probably have some reasons why constructing, portraiting, and choosing events in the way thay do.

Stacie also suggested us to think about the news in the readers’ shoes or in the news companies’ shoes and always to conceive “why?.” who read PBS? why? Could the origin of each news sources have influence on the way of news source work? why?

In that, What would be the ethics and responsibility of a designer, as a part of news companies and audience, and as a designer who creats forms of information by manipulates data.

20160901, Pew Research Center Report

20160906, Key findings of our news sources, Mental model

Every news sources is different.

I found that the main topics of the three news sources have differed from one and other over the week. News are ideologically believed to be objective and unbiased. If news sources were really so, they should be the same. Yet, in reality, they looks so different. it would be impossible to deliver every single event all around the globe.

Image: different styles of headline on the same event / composition & elements of website

A news scources’ contents reflect its own identity and belief

from determining stories to be published for that and sorting them out and give them a hierarchy

affect by

consistent incline

Data -> useful information

image : pewresearchcenter different Comments trend on the same event

Readers tend to trust what they alreay believe in

have a tendancy focusing more on the news media

the way of a diamond gleaming depends on how to polish diamond,

20160908, Mental model &

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