PC World Ad - Information Overload

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I made a trip to Ingles today to find an example of poor information design in the magazines they had for sale...and also to buy some milk. More often than not, I encountered effective information design in the magazines I looked through. However, I did come across an advertisement in the magazine PC World that was poorly designed. I initially thought the ad was for Microsoft Windows 8, but later realized after closer study that the ad in question was for a company called Cyber Power PC (www.cyberpowerpc.com). Essentially, this company configures and manufactures PC computers for gamers and other high-end users who want their technology personalized to meet their specific needs.

The example suffers from poor information design for two reasons: 1) Too much information, and 2) Too many numbers.

Information Overload
This is a form of information overload and occurs when the designer fails to consider functionality when presenting the information on the page. "The increased difficulty of finding and understanding" the information is the result (Katz 81). In the photos I provided, the focus on the lower half of the page, where the poor information design exists. There are three types of personalized computers shown, each geared towards the gamer user. Each computer features more or less the same type of information, but the specifications are different. (If you've ever bought a computer online, you've no doubt come across these long, detailed lists of specific components.) What jumps out at me about the specs section of the ad is how small the font is and the amount of information being presented. I don't believe it's necessary to list all six Intel processor sizes with their respective prices. The proper place to display that information would be the company's website, not a one-page ad. Directly below that section are affording icons within squares. These same icons appear below each of the three computer models, thereby making them redundant. Looking closely at the picture, you'll notice the words "Xtreme Gear" next to an icon of a keyboard and mouse. Personally, I consider that labeling unnecessary and another case of too much information.

Too Many Numbers
The ad includes many numbers describing the specs and models of the computers. This is necessary for this type of ad because it's important to reveal the specific amount of RAM, memory, and other details about the computer. The most salient number in the ad (and rightfully so) is the computer's price. But there are some unnecessary numbers as well. Returning to the section where the Intel processor sizes and prices are listed, there are numbers beginning each line which I assume are model types. This information should be restricted to the website because it's unclear what it represents. Therefore, the designer "failed to structure [these numbers] in a workable hierarchy" and the relationship between the numbers is ambiguous.




The intended audience doesn't

The intended audience doesn't seem to be that of a college student, or a regular shopper found in the grocery store. However, because everyone needs groceries, the company may be trying to target computer-savvy customers who find that simpler adds do not provide ENOUGH information....either way, the way the numbers are clumped together makes the add time-inefficient and it's usability diminishes because the customer isn't able to obtain the information before checking out at the grocery counter.

$7 for a magazine about computers?

will63 is right. The cover of this magazine looked like more of an add for windows 8 than anything. But I have to wonder if there is too much information or if it is just overwhelming to someone like me who is enough of a gamer to know that there are people out there who are very serious about the specs of their computer set up. If they were piecing together their own machine it may very well be that they want to know the exact specifications and price of each processor. I think considering the audience, it may just be that the information is not as well organized as it could be, but the type of info is still important.

I can definitely see the

I can definitely see the argument for a more computer-savvy customer. However, I would think that those types of customers would be more likely to research the products online. I agree that it might be nice to save some of the more technical information for the website.