The experience report of Sarah Heitz about her information design training
Hello, I'm Sarah, a graphic designer, and I started at Superdot in 2019. Through the training, I was involved in the implementation of "Visualizing Complexity" and I was able to learn and apply data experience design and data analytics from scratch. With this article, I'll let you know: a Superdot training starts at different levels – whether you're an experienced graphic designer, a fresh graduate, or changing your career, Superdot provides new perspectives on data and visualizations.
Superdot is a team of 5 – we are agile and innovative. Nicole and Darjan are visionaries in the field of information design. They realized already way back in 2011 that data visualization only works in combination with design. Lilia is an experienced graphic designer and Aaron, a former trainee like me, has become our in-house developer complementing his professional background in art and graphic design.
My starting point
After graduating in communication design, I started looking for exciting agencies in the DACH region. Superdot quickly stood out as exceptional. The approach to focus on communicating information of all kinds, making optimal decisions for this purpose, and implementing such diverse and exciting projects in a small team impressed me. So I applied exclusively for Superdot and got the chance for the traineeship! I suspected it in advance - and the first week of my traineeship confirmed, that the understanding of design in Germany and Switzerland is significantly different.
Design is an attitude
Through my work at Superdot and especially the training by Nicole, I got to understand the teaching methods of the Basel School of Design. For me, the design method developed by Superdot,"Modular Information Design", MID for short, is the further development of this learning methodology, with a new focus on information visualization. MID is the basis of our agency's information visualization. Design is a structure and an order that follows rules, can be varied, and in the last consequence translates content visually. No matter if it is about quantities, relations, places, categories, or hierarchies. A designer sets rules and defines new ones. Each step on the way to the result is a conscious decision that enables or excludes possibilities. For Superdot, information design goes beyond mere accessibility, color and the selection of an appropriate diagram. Just combining this with MID's 40 visual dimensions, such as color, shape, and pattern, opens up an amazing array of possible variations. That's why in the first phase of a project we work with hand sketches, virtually hands on the data set, to find our own translation that really does justice to the content.
My learning path
With my training at Superdot, I challenged and expanded my understanding of design. During this time, in addition to working on my skills and on internal tasks, I also worked on exciting projects, such as the book on child-friendly living spaces for Unicef. I was able to build basic skills in P5, Python, video and editing, as well as Blender, in addition to illustrating and typesetting text, sketching, analyzing, and other exciting hands-on experiences. At Superdot, we strive to grow our skills with each project. Last year, together with other Superdot employees, we founded the On Data And Design association. We are committed to building a community of information designers that empowers everyone to understand and visualize complex relationships.
Design is a tool
Why does McKinsey run a design department? Since when are interpretations of diagrams the subject of talk shows like"Markus Lanz"? Why were so many people interested in the natural gas and Corona dashboard on ZEITonline? Since 2020, there has been a significant increase in public interest in communicating large amounts of information efficiently, because information design empowers fact-based decision-making. Facts, relationships and stories become visible, and it is not only about what - but how it is presented. Incorrect and ill-conceived visualizations lead to misleading and superfluous discussions. It's surprising that in today's information-saturated world, design is considered separate from content and often pushed back in public discussion. Good design and visualizations that convey ideas and data in a meaningful way are essential to communicate effectively. We know the"AHA" moment when we render the invisible visible.
Our agency life
The daily business at Superdot is inspiring. Innovation is our standard. At Superdot there is no templating and no spaghetti code. We go into detail for every project, develop new solutions and therefore work with exciting clients like Unicef, the Swiss Federal Statistical Office or the Velux Daylight Foundation. How do I show the connection between population and CO2? How do I communicate the importance of child-friendly living spaces to a broad audience? How can I show how sunlight affects people, technology and the environment? We develop tools when there are none yet. We learn a new programming language when the project requires it. And we have fun with our work.