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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What every designer needs to know about people | Iva Cheung

The headline for Cheung's article targets graphic designers. But that's a narrow target, as Cheung notes in the final paragraph:
Many of these points have interesting implications for editors and plain language specialists. ...
Cheung heard these 10 guidelines in a webinar by behavioral psychologist Dr. Susan Weinschenk, author of 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People (and the upcoming book How to Get People to Do Stuff).

Here are headings for some guidelines that I thought were particularly pertinent to writing and plain language (they were CAPITALIZED in the article):
10. PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION ONLY TO WHAT IS SALIENT
8. READERS ASSUME THAT IF AN INSTRUCTION IS WRITTEN IN A HARD-TO-READ OR OVERLY DECORATIVE FONT, THE TASK IT’S ASKING YOU TO DO WILL BE HARD
7. MILLER’S LAW [about short-term memory] IS AN URBAN LEGEND
6. TOO MANY CHOICES CAN BE DEMOTIVATING
5. MOST MENTAL PROCESSING IS UNCONSCIOUS 
3. WE HAVE TWO TYPES OF COMMUNITIES: THOSE WITH WEAK TIES AND THOSE WITH STRONG TIES
For more information on plain language, see Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. Check out its section on Focusing on Your Reader and Purpose.________

Cheung's article is featured today, Feb. 6, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs, available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.


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