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The Clear and Simple Content Strategy
 Show of hands
• Raise your hand if your customers or clients include:
 People who speak English as a second language
 ...
 Were all hands raised?
 Everyone is“impaired” at some point
• Environment, stress, even hunger
 Q: How do we improve
the user’s environment
for cognition?
 A: Plain Language and
great design If you can’t explain it ...
What is plain language?
Reader-focused writing
 Can your audience:
• Find what they need
• Understand what they find
• Ac...
Strategies:
 Simple, clear, straightforward language
 Common words and simple grammar
 Minimal text
• Instructional ima...
1. Identify your audience
• What are their goals?
1.Design a conversation
• Employ best practices
1.Test
 What do you know about your users?
• Analytics
• Observations and Interviews
• Surveys and Usability Testing
 Ask: Why?...
 Decide what you need to say
• Business/Marketing
• Legal
 Focus on the goal of your
message
 Remember Ockham’s Razor:
...
 Begin with the most
important idea first
 Talk to your users
•Living room language
•Accessible design
 Keep the conver...
 Keep it short
• Use simple declarative sentences
• 20 words or less
“Get rid of half the words on each page, then get ri...
 Write in the Active Voice
We reduced your payments on
December 1, 1996 to $202.00 per
month. You will receive another le...
 Make it personal; Use personal pronouns
Your Right to Privacy
The information you give us is private. We
might have to g...
 Banish Jargon
• Use common language; define difficult terms
From a medical website for parents:
“What is the incidence o...
 Provide a little help
• If you can’t make it plainer, provide context
 Courtesty of MailChimp:
http://blog.mailchimp.co...
 No! Never use multiple negatives
• Original: No changes will be made to the Department of
Transportation’s regulations u...
 No! Never use multiple negatives
• Original: No changes will be made to the Department of
Transportation’s regulations u...
 Avoid redundancy
" . . . To avoid needless repetition, apply this rule: if one word
swallows the meaning of other words,...
 Design for readability– No “Walls of Words!”*
Break up text with:
• Lists
• Tables
• Images
*Ginny Redish, Letting Go of...
 How to write instruction:
•Organize the instruction by steps
•Put first things first and number sequential steps
•Put th...
 From this
TITLE 14--AERONAUTICS AND SPACE
CHAPTER I--FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
PART ...
 To this
Title 14: Aeronautics and Space
PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.
Sour...
 From this
 To this
Check for messages every 30 minutes. If my
computer is not connected at this time,
connect only when...
 From this
 To this
 Put your communication in front of users
1. Rewrite the next slide as a Plain Language tweet
• Avoid Twitter abbreviations
2. Include the hashtag: #GAADPlain
3. Wa...
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans
recommends a half hour or more of
moderate physical activity on most
days, preferably...
31
32
 Thank you
 www.plainlanguage.gov
 www.centerforplainlanguage.org
 www.usability.gov
 webstyleguide.com/wsg3/index.html
Janice (G...
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Plain Language: The Clear and Simple Content Strategy

The principles of plain language help everyone. Here's how you can make your digital content easier to access for everyone.

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Plain Language: The Clear and Simple Content Strategy

  1. 1. The Clear and Simple Content Strategy
  2. 2.  Show of hands • Raise your hand if your customers or clients include:  People who speak English as a second language  Seniors  Visually impaired  Distressed  Busy  Using a handheld device
  3. 3.  Were all hands raised?  Everyone is“impaired” at some point • Environment, stress, even hunger
  4. 4.  Q: How do we improve the user’s environment for cognition?  A: Plain Language and great design If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. --Albert Einstein
  5. 5. What is plain language? Reader-focused writing  Can your audience: • Find what they need • Understand what they find • Act appropriately on that understanding?
  6. 6. Strategies:  Simple, clear, straightforward language  Common words and simple grammar  Minimal text • Instructional images • Data visualization Hard writing is e asy re ading Easy writing is hard re ading --EBWhite
  7. 7. 1. Identify your audience • What are their goals? 1.Design a conversation • Employ best practices 1.Test
  8. 8.  What do you know about your users? • Analytics • Observations and Interviews • Surveys and Usability Testing  Ask: Why? What were they trying to do?  Create Personae • Be provisional if you must! • Required: Goals & Behaviors 8
  9. 9.  Decide what you need to say • Business/Marketing • Legal  Focus on the goal of your message  Remember Ockham’s Razor: • Simpler explanations are best. 9
  10. 10.  Begin with the most important idea first  Talk to your users •Living room language •Accessible design  Keep the conversation flowing •Let them respond at appropriate times •Give them breaks when they need it 10
  11. 11.  Keep it short • Use simple declarative sentences • 20 words or less “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left.”*-- Krug’s Third Law of Usability When We Need It We need your answer by [date]. We will have to turn down your request if we don't get your answer by that date.
  12. 12.  Write in the Active Voice We reduced your payments on December 1, 1996 to $202.00 per month. You will receive another letter about this change. The letter will show if you have a debt.
  13. 13.  Make it personal; Use personal pronouns Your Right to Privacy The information you give us is private. We might have to give out this information in a few special cases.
  14. 14.  Banish Jargon • Use common language; define difficult terms From a medical website for parents: “What is the incidence of asthma?” From another site: “How common is asthma in children?” -- from: Ginny Redish, Letting Go of the Words
  15. 15.  Provide a little help • If you can’t make it plainer, provide context  Courtesty of MailChimp: http://blog.mailchimp.com/mailchimps-redesigned-terms-of-service-and-privacy-policy/
  16. 16.  No! Never use multiple negatives • Original: No changes will be made to the Department of Transportation’s regulations unless the administrator reviews them and concludes that they are not lacking any important information. • Revised: Changes will be made to the Department of Transportation’s regulations only if the administrator reviews them and concludes they are lacking important information.
  17. 17.  No! Never use multiple negatives • Original: No changes will be made to the Department of Transportation’s regulations unless the administrator reviews them and concludes that they are not lacking any important information. • Revised: Changes will be made to the Department of Transportation’s regulations only if the administrator reviews them and concludes they are lacking important information.
  18. 18.  Avoid redundancy " . . . To avoid needless repetition, apply this rule: if one word swallows the meaning of other words, use that word alone." (Bryan Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English. Univ. of Chicago, 2001) Redundant terms: Solutions •Important essentials Essentials •Log into the _____ Log in •Very unique Unique •End result
  19. 19.  Design for readability– No “Walls of Words!”* Break up text with: • Lists • Tables • Images *Ginny Redish, Letting Go of the Words • Titles • Sentence caps & title caps • Sections and white space
  20. 20.  How to write instruction: •Organize the instruction by steps •Put first things first and number sequential steps •Put them where they are needed •Write in the positive; do not threaten •Show them with images •Make the last action last *Ginny Redish, Letting Go of the Words
  21. 21.  From this TITLE 14--AERONAUTICS AND SPACE CHAPTER I--FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION PART 39--AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES-- Table of Contents Subpart A--General Sec. 39. 1 Applicability. This part prescribes airworthiness directives that apply to aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, or appliances (hereinafter referred to in this part as ``products'') when-- (a) An unsafe condition exists in a product; and (b) That condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design. [Doc. No. 5061, 29 FR 14403, Oct. 20, 1964, as amended by Amdt. 39-106, 30 FR 8826, July 14, 1965] Sec. 39. 3 General. No person may operate a product to which an airworthiness directive applies except in accordance with the requirements of that airworthiness directive. Subpart B--Airworthiness Directives Sec. 39. 11 Applicability. This subpart identifies those products in which the Administrator has found an unsafe condition as described in Sec. 39.1 and, as appropriate, prescribes inspections and the conditions and limitations, if any, under which those products may continue to be operated
  22. 22.  To this Title 14: Aeronautics and Space PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701. Source: Doc. No. FAA–2000–8460, 67 FR 48003, July 22, 2002, unless otherwise noted. § 39.1 Purpose of this regulation. The regulations in this part provide a legal framework for FAA's system of Airworthiness Directives. § 39.3 Definition of airworthiness directives. FAA's airworthiness directives are legally enforceable rules that apply to the following products: aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, and appliances. § 39.5 When does FAA issue airworthiness directives? FAA issues an airworthiness directive addressing a product when we find that: (a) An unsafe condition exists in the product; and…
  23. 23.  From this  To this Check for messages every 30 minutes. If my computer is not connected at this time, connect only when not working offline. Check messages every 30 minutes.
  24. 24.  From this
  25. 25.  To this
  26. 26.  Put your communication in front of users
  27. 27. 1. Rewrite the next slide as a Plain Language tweet • Avoid Twitter abbreviations 2. Include the hashtag: #GAADPlain 3. Watch the magic!
  28. 28. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a half hour or more of moderate physical activity on most days, preferably every day. The activity can include brisk walking, calisthenics, home care, gardening, moderate sports exercise, and dancing. #GAADPlain
  29. 29. 31
  30. 30. 32
  31. 31.  Thank you
  32. 32.  www.plainlanguage.gov  www.centerforplainlanguage.org  www.usability.gov  webstyleguide.com/wsg3/index.html Janice (Ginny) Redish, “Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works,” 2007 Steve Krug, “Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability," 2014 Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery, “A Web for Everyone,” 2014

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