What is Diagnostic Testing?

Diagnostic testing is a method for finding faults in information designs. We call it diagnostic because it follows the same logic used by doctors to discover, treat, and cure patients.

Like doctors, we as communication and information designers look for symptoms of disease. But in this case the disease is not in people, but in public documents that people cannot use. In information design, the sick patient is the document. When surveys discover that people make mistakes with information, the alleged ’cause’ is sometimes attributed to be a lack of numeracy and literacy skills in the users, and the ‘solution’ is to change people through education. But no amount of education will help when the public information itself is at fault. Our many projects suggest that the faults in routinely produced  public documents are such that less than 40% of the public can use them effectively.

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