Hello there! My name is Marco Gervasio and this is a collection of stories about how interaction design, digital marketing, visual design, and social media can come together to create powerful programs and platforms for a meaningful customer experience. Feel free to reach out to me:

marco@sequential.ca

Communicating Nutrition In Ways That Matter

The American Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has recently presented a significant update to the well known nutrition label applied on most consumers food products. Perhaps influenced by Michele Obama’s fight against obesity, the F.D.A. decided to make information more meaningful by telling people what they are really eating, what the impact will be on their body when consumed.

While the current label design, created back in the 1990’s, does provide the necessary information to understand what’s in the product, it does not reflect the reality of today’s American eating habits and what matters the most in terms of nutrition.

nutrition-label

The first improvement achieved with the new design is a better hierarchy. Looking at the current label, all information is sort of on the same level. With the revamp, what matters come through: calorie count is much more evident, serving size and number of portions in a package is easier to visualize, and unnecessary information was remove (such as “calories from fat” which is perhaps a bit granular). The second major improvement in my eye was how information is displayed. By simply flipping the % Daily Value column to the left, reading the label becomes so much easier. You don’t have to drag your eyes to the right side to associate a percentage value to a nutritional item. It may sound like a detail but try it. Even with the lines separating all of the items in the list, your eye does not always reach the right side of the label with total confidence. I can see how this usability improvement will make certain people’s lives easier, those with sight impairment like the elderly community.

What came through this reveal by the F.D.A. is that information design is still so important in our industry. Back in the 1990’s, the digital agencies had information architects organizing the huge amounts of content we would publish in websites. We were so eager to provide it all (perhaps too much). At the time though, and for many years after that, most I.A.’s focused on the organizational aspect on information, trying to create structural models based mostly on how clients saw themselves, not how consumers sought information. Little time was spent on establishing hierarchy within content displays to make it easier to scan and digest. Fortunately things have changed. We see much more attention at making information meaningful. I often find inspiration on news sites that have mastered the notion of prioritization and communication to what is important.

The key take-away:

- Always think of what you are trying to communicate and put it forward
- It’s not about you it’s about them; prioritize what matters
- Visual designers, user experience experts, and writers need to collaborate closer in some case to ensure communication is optimized (we try hard at making promotional landing pages optimal, why not apply this desire into everything we design)

 

Marco Gervasio

 

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