Last class we discussed the importance of context. Context is information that we must have in order to fully understand something. In our everyday lives the importance of context in any given situation varies; sometimes you need to give a lot of context, sometimes you don’t. And in the world of design, the same rules apply.
We live in a “low context” society by design. Which is why many of the designs we encounter on a regular basis we do not need much context to figure them out. In the USA we design in such a way that least educated person would be able to understand the information we are trying to give. That is due, in part, to the fact that we have so many people from different countries and cultures that we have to communicate to, as opposed to other “high context” societies.
Where we have to worry about context is in the international space. Different countries have different customs than ours, and being unfamiliar with those customs can be detrimental. Something as simple as a color choice can go very wrong if you don’t know that in Japan white is a color of mourning, for example.
Another concept we spoke about that ties into this is “depth of meaning”. This has to do with our level of understanding. There are 7 categories: perception, sensation, emotion, intellect, identification, reverberation, and spirituality. These are used in design to better connect with the audience. For example, an ad depicting homeless children is effective no matter what language it is in, because the only context you need for such an ad is to be a human with emotions.
Understating context is an essential tool to have if I want to be an effective designer. I need to know how much of the right context to apply to connect with the audience, if not people will be confused and I will be unemployed.