User-Centered Design, Apply it.

funnyWhen creating a professional document, it is very important that you make sure your document is free of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and prose. Keeping your documents free of errors is important, but an error free document does not mean that it is necessarily a convincing one.

In todays business world, the art of being persuasive in professional writing is a necessary skill that everyone should have. In order to be more persuasive in your writing, you must employ the use of user-centered design. This post from BogieLand.com has a great description of what user-centered design is and the bonuses that it can give. It gives six-step list of how to make your websites, documents, and products more user friendly and accessible. From my last post, you can see that user-centered design is important to make you appear more credible and professional in your communication with others. In order to make an effective document, you must create it with the end-user in mind. You are not creating something for yourself, you are creating something for others to read and then subsequently be convinced or get the information that you intended them to receive. As well as knowing your audience, you must actually apply this idea of user-centered design to your documents. Purdue OWL lists three ways to apply user-centered design to your work by altering your document design, information design, and sentence design. 

User-friendly documents are extremely important in today’s business world. If it is a website, it should be easy and logical to navigate. It does not need to be dumbed down so that a child could access it, but it should be easy enough for people to get what they want out of it. Things like adding a table of contents, headings, and breaks all seem like trivial acts, but they make a document much easier to navigate and understand. If a reader does not understand something you wrote, it is much simpler to go to the index and find the section again rather than having to scroll or flip through the entire document again.

White space is an excellent method of making your document look better and more importantly, read better. I thought that this blog post makes some very good points as to why white space is so important in design. It goes into great detail how white space affects the way that we, as readers, are influenced by purposeful use of white space. It can help with attention, comprehension, legibility, and overall look of a document. While it can help immensely, overuse of white space is a big mistake by making it look like you really did not do much or that everything is just too spread out. Making use of white space can impress your boss and make your work that much better. 

As well as designing your professional documents,  designing the information included is equally important. It is necessary to include information design because you must realize what information you do and do not need. If you are sending a document to the CEO of your company who probably has not done hands-on financial modeling in 30 years, it might be best to leave out a good amount of the very detailed technical jargon and just give him or her the facts. Adding informative headers and breaks also strengthen your writing by adding clarity and helping the reader identify what they are reading and letting them know where they are at in the document. 

Sentence design may be one of the best and easiest ways that you can improve your ability to convey information. Complex and awkward sentences do not effectively share information and they can leave the reader extremely confused. A lot of times, the simplest fix for awkward sentences is to read your sentence aloud. If you do not understand your sentence when you read it out loud, the reader is surely not going to understand that sentence when reading it in their head. Go forth and be understood.

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11 thoughts on “User-Centered Design, Apply it.

  1. speaking on sentence design i agree with very much, i also think that it is very important to good flowing dialogue to make the paper or resume easy to read. It is important to make sure information can be easily found and understood. I also agree on your point about white space and how it can make a document look better, and back to my point earlier it will make the document flow much more and make your overall paper or resume look more professional.

  2. Ryan,
    I think we both stress the importance of strong writing as we approach the beginning of our professional lives. I think its important to remain clear and concise, however a writer must have some element that interests the reader so that they don’t get bored and lack focus while reading a paper. Great ideas throughout your post.

    -Aaron Berns

  3. Great post, Ryan. Your point about the importance of being persuasive in your writing and how this can be achieved by using user-centered design is great. By employing user-centered design in your writing, you can accomplish an array of things, allowing your work to be effective and professional. The CEO example you use in your second to last paragraph is also a very good idea. Always remember your audience and cater your works towards them.

    James

  4. Ryan,

    You state some great ideas in this blog post and something you said that I found to be very true about my writing is that the paper or report is not being created for myself, but it is begin created for someone else to read. Having this idea in mind while writing can be helpful in avoiding putting in information you think is crucial when to the end user, it is not. The example you said about sending a report to a CEO who hasn’t done a certain task in awhile is a great time to use user centers design. The CEO is only looking for the facts so they can move onto another task, so it is crucial to create a document that is easy to navigate and comprehend. This is a great skill to master and will only help out us millennials in the future.

    Jake Gonzales

  5. Ryan,

    I like how you brought up how important the art of being persuasive is in business writing. I agree that we are not just writing for ourselves, but for other people. In resumes, we are trying to showcase our skills and persuade employers to give us an interview. This holds true to cover letters as well! Being persuasive is a great skill and you must know who your audience is or you could jumble up your thoughts or potentially showcase skills not pertaining to the job you are applying to.

  6. Ryan,

    I talked about many of the same ideas you discussed throughout your blog. One thing I liked that you mentioned is the use of white space. I never early considered white space in my writing a ton, besides trying to avoid times when there was obviously too much. I never really thought about how it could help with comprehension, attention, and legibility. User centered design is very important to incorporate into business writing, and I think you did a great job of showing this. The example of the CEO is a great example of a real life need for user-centered design, which helped to reinforce your writing.

  7. Hi Ryan,

    Thank you for the thoughtful post on user-centered design. I really like how you spoke to all the different aspect of design and not just what the physical document looks like. I believe that there is so much more to design than just that aspect and you touched on all those parts. Even something as simple as sentence design and structure can make a big difference when you are trying to rely information to another party. Too complex or to simple can definitely discourage a specified audience.

  8. Gigs,

    I really like the picture you attached, as that is me most times I’m trying to write these blogs. I like the points you bring up about white space, I wrote about it also. It can make reading a document seem much less daunting, but when overused it can dumb it down a bit too much. I also agree that sometimes it is as simple as just reading your sentence aloud. As trivial as it sounds, it really does work.

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