User- Centered Design and Rhetorical Awareness

imgresHi Millennial Workers,

I am here to help you better understand how to incorporate user-centered design and rhetorical awareness into your everyday writing! Being a millennial myself, I am more than aware of some of the difficulties that you might face, so I have come up with some practical advice in hopes of improvement.

When considering your audience you need to determine: what they already know, what they are interested in knowing and what they need to know. When writing in business, you need to be aware of how your audience perceives you- or your Ethos. Your Ethos is connected to your authority, competence, and professionalism.

How to Improve your Ethos?

  • Use of adequate evidence and research
  • Convincing arguments
  • Awareness of your audience’s needs
  • Professional presentation

When implementing rhetorical awareness in everyday writing of documents or messages, they may have one or more purposes including: to earn or maintain goodwill, to persuade, to inform, or to amuse, please or entertain. The main purpose of workplace writing is to effect positive action and improve relations between people, but most importantly in business writing is to be persuasive. As stated in the Purdue OWL Article, since workplace writing is persuasive, you must consider the rhetorical situation, which includes:

  • Purpose (why the document is being written, the goals of the document)
  • Audience (who will read the document, includes shadow readers-unintended audiences who might read your work)
  • Stakeholders (who may be affected by the document or project)
  • Context (the background of and situation in which the document is created).

Now lets talk about User-Centered Design. According to BogieLand, User- Centered Design is an approach to interactive information development that focuses specifically on making documents usable, useful and desirable.

There Are Six Aspects of Usability:

  1. Ease of learning: users that have never used this document before or seen it should be able to learn how to learn how to use is quickly
  2. Efficiency of use: the document should be formatted in a way that allows more experienced users to accomplish tasks more rapidly
  3. Memorability: general users of the document are assisted by a design that they are able to remember how to function/use
  4. Error minimization: Document should be designed in an way that minimizes the number or severe errors, and allows for fast recovery
  5. Subjective satisfaction: the experience should be pleasant
  6. Accessibility: the document should be accessible to as wide an audience as possible

When applying User-Centered Design to a document, you must have detailed knowledge about the target audience. This is because it provides information about the user constrains and preferences on which the design must be based. Information such as the motivation, habits, preferences, cultural context, technological capacities, and physical capabilities of the target audiences is required before a single part of text can be written.

The Benefits of User-Centered Design:

  • Development of documentation which is easy and pleasant for people to use
  • Enhanced user experience
  • An easy to use document set is more likely to be revisited by people, as well as enhancing your reputation, and permitting further development of business online
  • User-Centered Design is crucial to success, and the measurement of success, of all documents: both paper and electronic.

According to Pearson Custom, for best writing results you should combine the principals of document and user-centered design. Casey DeSmet, talks about why understanding and utilizing both document and user-centered design principals is important to technical writers. I hope that these tips are helpful!

3 thoughts on “User- Centered Design and Rhetorical Awareness

  1. Your blog post is very organized! I appreciated the headings and bullet point layouts because I could easily see what you were discussing ahead of reading it. Your focus on Ethos was great and I like that you incorporated it. The six aspects of usability were really insightful and I feel it was important to include- so great job there! The overall feel of the post felt professional and like you really knew the topic well and that’s always important when teaching an audience. Lastly, I thought it was great how you ended discussing the benefits because sometime people don’t really know if what they are doing will pay off- so that was smart to add in! Great job!

  2. Hi Lauren. This was a very good post. Identifying yourself as a fellow millennial and connecting to your reader by sharing how you have faced many of the difficulties we also might come across, was an excellent way to build rapport with your audience right from the get go. My favorite part about the post was how you broke down usability into 6 parts. Usability is such an important concept to any piece of effective workplace writing, so spending time to define it in such detail was great. Also, I’m glad you discussed how you need to understand your audience. In my opinion this is the most important aspect of UCD and rhetorical awareness. Keep up the solid work!

  3. Hey Lauren! I thought your post was very clear and concise and you communicated your message very well. I liked how you listed the 6 Aspects of Usability and briefly explained each one, keeping your writing simple and straight to the point. I thought that it was important that you explained the benefits to using user-centered design, so that the audience could quickly recap on why it’s crucial to take your advice. I also liked the part you included about considering the audience’s needs. It’s very hard to persuade someone if you don’t first know who you are writing to and what information is necessary for their understanding. Taking time to plan ahead really helps to make your writing come together! Great job!

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