Communicating Clearly to Help Your Readers [and your Clients]

We are not in the magazine business, nor the writing or design business. We are in the service business. We serve our readers’ need for information and entertainment.

CommunicatingClearlyReader truths

  • Readers don’t have much time for browsing.
  • They are overwhelmed – just like you and me – with people talking at them.
  • Their attention must be competed for and won.
  • They respond much better to colleagues, guides, and friends. They do not respond as well to authoritative, remote, arrogant sources.
  • They need to be lured into reading, and the best lure is by engaging their brains in an entertaining, reduced–effort way.

Editor and designer truths

  • We are most comfortable doing it “the way it’s supposed to be done,” whether or not the rules still apply.
  • We develop design processes that limit alternatives.
  • We often avoid the hard work of revealing content effectively and settle for mere decoration.
  • Designers provide a value–added service to the editorial content by increasing its perceived value to and its absorbability by the reader.
  • Designers must make content irresistible to the reader.
  • Designers must use design not as a splashy technique grafted onto the page just to catch attention, but as a functional tool to slip ideas off the page into readers’ minds.
  • Designers must respond to readers’ lack of time. We must realize we have to “sell” the ideas we deem useful to them and sell the ideas on their inherent value, not their graphic glamor.

We must put ourselves in our reader’s shoes

  • Emphasize personal relevance and involvement
  • Use visual symbols we all understand

We must understand and use the four basic skills in print communication

  • Control and making the most of the medium (space, flow, patterning)
  • Establish personality (less is much more if it is disciplined and patterned)
  • Speak vividly with typography
  • Tell and show (blend words, pictures, and layout)

We must edit and design for the reader

  • Impact editing (writing and designing blended into one intellectual step). END