Dr Maria Lonsdale

Dr Maria Lonsdale


In 1996 I received a 4-year degree (Licenciatura) in Visual Communication from ESAD, Matosinhos, Portugal. In 2006 I received my PhD from the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading, UK. I had a seven-year career break from academia and then joined the School of Design at the University of Leeds in January 2015.

I am an Associate Professor in Graphic and Communication Design and have experience of teaching design theory and practice, and research methods for design in higher education, both in Portugal and in the UK since 1997.

My main areas of research are: [more general] Graphic Design and Communication Design; [more specific] Information Design and Typographic Design. My research is notable in the field of Design for its multi-disciplinary nature, with collaboration across sectors such as Healthcare, National and Global Security, Education, etc. My research is also notable in the field of Design for its research based user-centred approach using a wide range of research methods: from focus groups/interviews/questionnaires/surveys, to co-design, to usability testing and iteration, to experimental studies that test, evaluate and validate design solutions to particular problems encountered in real-life contexts. At its core, my research focuses on the effective use of design to improve user performance and wellbeing.

I am Academic Advisor for Luto, a leading global health communications and testing company. I am the Associate Editor for the oldest international peer-reviewed design journal Visible Language, first published in 1967 and based at the University of Cincinnati, in the US. I am the Editor for the Special Student Issue in Visible Language. I am a reviewer for other international peer-reviewed journals such as Information Design Journal, Visible Language and Journal of Eye Movement Research. I am also a regular manuscript reviewer for publishers such as SageRoutledge (Taylor & Francis) and Bloomsbury.

I was awarded Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) as a recognition for my seniority and contribution to high quality teaching and student learning. I was also awarded Member of the International Society of Typographic Designers (MISTD) as recognition for my professional ability as designer and academic.


  • Deputy Head of School

Research interests

Design to Inform | the importance of design and visualisation to make information easy to access, simple to use and inclusive.

Design to Instruct | the importance of design to help people process, learn and retain information, and transfer it to specific situations.

Design for Healthcare | the importance of design to make health information clear and facilitate communication between health professionals and patients.

Design for Security | the importance of design to improve how security information is handled and communicated inside agencies, as well as the importance of design to inform and instruct the public about security issues (e.g. cyber security awareness, hygiene and good practice).

Design for Education | the importance of design to enhance and innovate teaching and learning materials, as well as to improve student experience and satisfaction in traditonal learning & virtual learning environments.

Design for Reading | the importance of typographic legibility for reading strategies such as search reading, skimming, and scanning.

Design for the user/people | the importance of designing with the user/people by employing methods such as co-design/participatory design, and for the user/people by employing methods such as usability testing, eye-tracking, performance testing.

Recent research projects

2020 | Patient stakeholder panel: Improving comprehension and reducing anxiety about recovery after major abdominal surgery | Co-I (with Dr Stephen Chapman and Prof David Jayne) | Research Development Funding, University of Leeds

2020 | Immersive technologies for design and education | Co-I (with Dr Francisco Queiroz as PI) | Epic Games

2019 | The impact of information design on recovery after bowel surgery. How can the design of patient information resources lead to improved comprehension and decreased anxiety? | Joint PI with Dr Stephen Chapman | NIHR MIC – Surgical Technologies; Bowel Cancer UK; School of Design – University of Leeds

2019 | Information and instructional design principles to enhance accessibility and inclusivity of course material on Blackboard VLE | PI | LITE Teaching Excellence Project Leaders, University of Leeds.

2018 | The impact of information design on the quality of bowel preparation for colonoscopy screening II – Scoping study and initial design development | PI | School of Design, University of Leeds

2018 | Visualising the terror threat. The impact of information design on communicating security information to the British public | PI | School of Design, University of Leeds.

2018 | Handling and communicating intelligence information | PI | Government Communications and Planning Directorate (GCPD), UK

2017 | The impact of information design on the quality of bowel preparation for colonoscopy screening I – Public engagement | PI | Research Development Funding, University of Leeds

2017 | Cyber security communication campaigns. The effect of neglecting user-centred information design principles on the quality of cyber hygiene amongst the public | PI | School of Design, University of Leeds. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="http://www.ever-verde.com/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD | Typography and Graphic communication | University of Reading, UK
  • Licenciatura | Visual Communication Design | ESAD, Portugal

Professional memberships

  • SFHEA | Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • MISTD | Member of the International Society of Typographic Designers
  • Associate Editor | Visible Language Design Journal
  • Editor | Special Student Issue, Visible Language design journal
  • Academic Advisor for Luto (Health Communication company)
  • AHRC Peer Reviewer
  • WRoCAH | The White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities | Academic member of the Peer Review College and Subject Cluster Committee for?Media, Creative & Performing Arts
  • Member of the Design Research Society
  • Member of the Information Design Association

Student education

I was the Programme Leader for the MA Design between the academic years 2015-16 and 2018-2019, and responsible for designing the new MA Design programme of study, which was partially fully implemented in 2016-17 and fully implemented in 2017-18. This turned the MA Design in to an extremely successful programme at the national and international level, in terms of recruitment, student satisfaction and student achievement.

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>