Reintroducing Sense

When we started Sense Information Design back in 2013, we had one purpose in mind: to help people think clearly in order to make more informed decisions and achieve better outcomes. We saw an urgent need across business, education, government, and society for greater understanding and clear communication — not just because there’s ever-increasing complexity in the world that needs managing, but because everyday experiences and interactions too often lack basic clarity.

As information designers, we wanted to see the fullest potential of our field realized — beyond infographics and data visualizations. We believed there was an opportunity to improve the way people create, use, and share information by identifying moments of difficulty or confusion: when information is missing, disorganized, unsynthesized, or ineffectively presented to a particular audience.

Over the past four years, we’ve been fortunate to bring our expertise to bear on a variety of challenges, from marketing strategy development to educational healthcare presentations to team alignment workshops. We’ve been especially lucky to partner with remarkable clients who’ve enthusiastically engaged in the “figuring out” process with us, co-created new ways of seeing and thinking about a problem or opportunity, experienced the change that comes from understanding, and even championed sensemaking within their organizations.

Despite the modest success we’ve had so far, one thing we keep struggling with is actually explaining what we do in a way that makes sense to the most people (ironic for a company called “Sense” that specializes in explanation). “Enabling understanding” as a service unto itself can seem too vague or abstract, given that what we do can take the form of anything from a strategy to a process to a diagram. Sometimes, we find that describing the tangible deliverables we provide helps make our work concrete, but that comes at the risk of downplaying the process- and research-driven side of things. Also, many of our projects are confidential, so we can’t show as much as we’d like to (but that will change soon).

Lately, we’ve been putting more effort into explaining ourselves better. About a year ago, we created a short story to visually summarize what we do, and we gathered some excellent feedback that directly informed our messaging and the redesign of our website, which we relaunched this past February. Now with the new site up, we’re brimming with ideas to shed light on our work and our expertise: regular updates on what we’re up to, safe-to-show project case studies, workshop recaps, event appearances and announcements, instructive articles, and interesting findings from across the realms of strategy, research, and design. And yes, we’ll be (mostly) active on Twitter and Linkedin, but we really prefer good old face-to-face interaction.

We’re learning as we go along this journey. Even with years of experience in the understanding business under our belts, we’re always open to seeing and doing things differently. We welcome ideas and suggestions. If anything doesn’t make sense — or if it makes total sense — be sure to let us know!