All About the Reader

Introduction to user-centered design (what the heck is this?):

You might ask, what is user-centered design? As a fellow millennial I certainly did. User-centered design is “the process by which useful documents are made for a user through interactive information development” according to Casey DeSmet at Pearson Custom. But if you’re anything like me you’re still saying “so uhh what does that mean?” Putting this definition into language I understood meant research. The definition I found to be most useful is from the European Information Development file000349823764Conference.  User-centered design is essentially a format designed to provide the reader with ease of learning, efficiency, errors minimization, subjective satisfaction, accessibility and memorability.

While this sound like an easy task it can potentially be more difficult that you think. After finding a definition that I understood I immediately thought, I already do this, I don’t need to read about this. But, to my disappointment, after further reading and research I realized there were definitely areas I could improve to make my writing more user-centered. Most of the devices we, as millennials, interact with are incredibly user-friendly. Take the iPhone for example, how much more user-centered can a device get? Every aspect of the iPhone is developed and formatted for the sole purpose of user satisfaction and ease of use, Jethro Heiko.

Now that we have established a definition and explored how this definition plays out in the real world of technology let’s take a closer look at user-centered design in writing, and in particular, business writing.

User-centered design in writing:

The category of user-centered design breaks down into three subcategories, document format, information format and sentence format, Perdue Owl.

1.) Document Format:

Document format is focused around the physical format of words on the page. In order to exercise the ease of earning and efficiency I mentioned before, you should use titles, subtitles, bold type and numbered lists in order to create a document that is memorable and accessible to the reader.

2.) Information Format:

Successful information format structures the information you are trying to communicate in a general to specific format making it easy for the reader to learn what you are trying to communicate.

3.) Sentence Format:

Sentence format, the way I understand it, is simply the use of sentence structure that makes for easy and efficient comprehension by the reader. I find that a quick and dirty check for this can be done by reading the sentence out loud to someone else and seeing if they need any clarification.

User-centered design in Business writing specifically:

Now that we know exactly what user-centered design is and how to apply it to our writing lets move our focus to business writing you are currently doing or may do in the future. Writing with a user-centered design caters to the reader by providing the information in the most convenient and clear format possible. User-centered business writing has a similar purpose but a slightly different application.

When I write to coworkers and other business professionals certain aspects of user-centered design take precedence over others. In business writing memorability and ease of learning are crucial.


While the definition of this aspect remains the same the importance increases. Business professionals tend to be very busy and typically read (skim) thousands of emails a day. Because of this volume element it is crucial that your document leaves a lasting impression that the reader can easily recall.

Ease of learning:

For the same reason why it is important that your document be memorable it is also crucial that your document facilitate easy comprehension of the information presented. If your document is difficult to understand it is likely that it won’t get much consideration or attention.

Moral of the Story:

Business writing becomes far more effective when user-centered design is applied to your current style. As millennials we are stereotyped as bad communicators so why not work together to surprise the world and create documents that are the exact opposite? Good luck fellow millennials and I hope this information was as helpful for you as it was for me!


8 thoughts on “All About the Reader

  1. I really like how you formatted this blog. By starting out with a question, you effectively hooked your readers in. I also like how you balanced your own opinion on the topic of user-centered design with various other examples. By including both it made me feel like you had a solid foundation on what the topic actually meant. Including your own thoughts also made your piece more personal and easy to understand. I am a big fan of numbering main points as well. Right away, I knew what your main points were and by making them bold they really stood out. I can honestly say that I feel like I have a better understanding of what UCD is after reading your blog.

  2. Hey Sarah! I really really liked how you went about answering this post and the way you laid it out, it made it so easy to follow and I really think I grasped what you were saying because of this. Great job! I also loved how you went directly in to the definition of user centered design. Still, after reading many posts about it I still need a little refresher and you did a great job of doing so. I also loved how you referenced “the quick and dirty check.” This is 100% true, reading a sentence aloud to someone can help to make sure things don’t sound funny! 🙂

  3. Hey sarah! the way this post was written tonight was really well organized and made it really easy to read so good job! The last 3 bullets were really effective i really liked how you included the moral of the story its kinda a good way to sum up your whole article. The way you started your blog with a question and ended with rapping up the answer made your blog post really convenient to finding out an answer! good job!

  4. Hi Sarah! Great piece. I definitely agree with your statement at the beginning. User centered design can definitely be a bit trickier than people expect it to be. Once you learn how to use it though, it is very effective! I also like how you laid out this post. It was neat, very easy to follow along, and looked very professional. In the section where you talk about the moral of the story, you state how millennials are stereotyped as bad communicators. Unfortunately that is very true. That is why concepts such as UCD are very effective and will hopefully help to break this stereotype!

  5. Hi Sarah! I really liked how you made your post very relatable and easy to understand. It helped that you clearly defined user-centered design because it allowed me follow your train of thought throughout the rest of the post. The example of the iPhone as something that is user-friendly also aided in the understanding of what UCD actually is. I appreciated the format of your post and how you broke it up into 2 different sections with bolded headings. It automatically attracted me to your post because I knew it would be interesting and simple to follow. Great job!

  6. I like your title because I know what you are going to be writing about. I like the first bold heading; the little blurb in parentheses is funny. You use good humor right off the bat, and pique the reader’s interest. You also are relatable, but the way in which you present it makes it educational at the same time. You use a name as a reference right at the beginning; this adds credibility to your writing and the advice that you give. I really like how you break everything down into nice little bite size pieces.

  7. Hi Sarah!
    Good job relating to the reader right of the bat. It makes you seem relatable because you had the same issue starting out, but it also makes you sound credible because you’ve done research and learned about the topic. I like how concise your points are throughout your writing. They are clear, helpful and make it easy for the reader to understand exactly what they need to incorporate. All of the main points feed off the last, and make the post flow with ease. Your final paragraph is a good wrap up to the entire post and leaves the audience with a hopeful feeling.

  8. Hi Sarah! First off, stellar blog post. Among the ones I read on user centered design, I found yours one of the more enlightening and interesting to read. I really enjoyed how you opened up and began your blog post, putting a special focus on addressing what is user centered design. I think it is crucial to drive home what it actually means in words that we millenials can grasp before diving too far into how to use and apply it in your writing. I also really liked how you structured your blog post, utilizing bold sub headers and a numbered list. Finally you wrap up the post superbly by giving a nice little conclusion that summarized all your major points and pieces of advice. Kudos! I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

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