As a result of many cultural and technological factors, people just don’t read like they used to. They are much more apt to skim a document, whether printed or electronic, to try to gain the information they need. We can ignore this reality and continue to develop written materials that don’t engage people, or we can try to create materials that allow readers to skim easily and gain information quickly. For advocacy organizations, which rely on these materials to help raise funds or elicit volunteers, grabbing a reader’s attention and giving her information is part and parcel of their mission.

Here is an example from the annual State of Poverty report issued by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. Like any good makeover, I’ll display the “before” example, which is a page spread talking about the definitions of poverty and Ohio’s poverty (this is a snapshot of the 2011 report):



The team at OACAA was aware that the report wasn’t having a desired effect, and they wanted to make it more user-friendly (and thus used). I immediately suggested a structure where all the really pertinent data would be expressed in infographics and supporting tables and charts of data (which other organizations use for grant writing and other activities) would be housed in an appendix. The infographics would all reference the appendix tables for users who wanted to see the base data. Here’s the final (2012) spread that has a similar subject to the spread above:



Which works best for you?

(See http://www.editorialpartnersllc.com/services/information-design/ for the complete report)

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