Category: User Experience

Three ways to convince web content owners to adopt plain language

“Don’t dumb down my content.”

“Legal said so.”

“My manager will change it back.”

These are some of the responses I’ve heard in client meetings when we try to promote plain language writing for Web content. This type of writing conveys information easily and unambiguously by:

  • using straightforward vocabulary and sentence structures
  • organizing and presenting material clearly and logically with the most important facts at the beginning and the less important details toward the end of the content
  • avoiding jargon and idioms

So to commemorate International Plain Language Day on October 13, I offer three techniques for countering the anti-plain language arguments and making your existing or future content awesome for Web users.

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Prototyping product review: Justinmind

Prototyping can be the most exciting – and the most challenging – part of being an information architect. The prototype enables assumptions testing; allows clients to visualize their project; and pushes many aspects of the project forward, from design to copy writing, and from curating assets to technical development. read more

It’s time to think mobile first for government services and information

I’ve heard more than one government client say that he or she didn’t have the time or budget to think about the implications of mobile when developing online content. Getting approved content online in both official languages and in accordance with multiple TBS policies and standards was daunting enough, and it stretched staff and budgets. If considered at all, “mobile” was thought of in terms of mobile applications. read more

GC Web Usability Resolution 5: Test for failures, not successes.

(part 5 of 5)

When we present usability test results, whether for a new web application, an internal system, or a website, we are often met with grim faces due to low success rates. As usability experts we know that low success rates are actually a sign that we’re doing our job well. Receiving high success rates across the board is usually a sign that those tasks are working well, and the design is successful; however, it should also tell you that you should be testing different tasks.

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GC Web Usability Resolution 4: If you’re the only one who is going to read it, don’t publish it.

(part 4 of 5)

In the early GC web days we were still very much about providing an electronic version of print publications (e.g. brochures, fact sheets, etc.). But what usability experts have learned in more recent years is that we don’t read the same way online as we do with paper. Instead, users generally like to scan quickly, looking for bold headings and keywords that stand out. Think about it this way: when was the last time you read a web page from top to bottom, left to right, in entirety?

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GC Web Usability Resolution 2: Think by topic, not owner.

(part 2 of 5)

Historically a common tendency when architecting government websites, especially intranet sites, has been to organize information by the structure of the institution, or rather, by who owns the information. At first glance this can often seem like a logical approach to organizing web content. And although we are getting much better at moving away from this type of web information architecture (IA); there do, however, remain a number of problems with organizing web content by organizational design that we should keep in mind.

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