Drum roll, please.
As promised, Mythbuster is back for more. Let’s continue where we left off, here are a further 5 content design myths that need busting wide open.
Drum roll, please.
Content design as a discipline in its own right is still a relatively new concept, so as a result there is still a lot of confusion and miscommunication out there about what content design actually is, believing everything from it being some kind of editing role, to marketing, to graphic design.
During my time working in this field I have heard many a myth be stated outrightly as fact and so decided it is time to try and bust a few myths open about what content design is, how it should be approached and where it should sit in the design process.
Here we go. Hold on tight, it may be a bumpy ride.
Some weeks back I came across an article on Medium entitled 1 Powerful Way to Boost Your Creativity by Ravi Shankar Rajan which introduced the term ‘Expert-Generalist’ to me. As I read it I gave out a yelp of ‘YES! Yes, that’s it!’ and did a little jig to myself (not unusual behaviour). I had finally found something that seemed to explain and pull together my varied background, both in my career and personal life, giving some clarity to my scrambled mind. So let’s take a somewhat meandering look at what this means for me and my career.
In the spirit of both Mental Health Week and World Accessibility Day being this week, I have put together some musings about designing services for those with mental health issues and how we can make interaction with our designs as easy as possible for them if we just think a little differently to consider their take on our designs.
Whilst awareness of designing for accessibility is increasing, I find there is still a real skew in awareness of considering users with physical issues such as being blind, deaf, or a wheelchair user, whilst consideration of mental or behavioural illnesses (also often referred to as invisible disabilities) hover quietly in the background. As with any other illness or disability, design should not exclude any groups of users. By looking at usability for wide audiences, we make a product more useable for everybody and reduce the stigma and inconvenience for some where this is much needed.
There are many mental illnesses and behavioural issues that can make it equally difficult to interact with a service, due to the impact on concentration and attention spans, comprehension, memory and information processing. Think ADHD, MS, Alzheimers, depression, PTSD, anxiety and more.
Here are 4 simple things for you to consider in your design work to help these user groups.
This week you will need to roll on over to Hippo Design's website where I have been busy writing a post on Content Design.
In the last two weeks I have been named one of two Accessibility Advocates for the HMRC site at Shipley. As a result of this, and getting my head into the depths of this responsibility, there are a few things I have been musing about the hotly debated subject of accessibility.
Anyone who knows me knows I love learning. I am a true geekoid and constantly find new things to learn, not just in my job but as ongoing hobbies and fleeting moments of inspiration too. Some recent examples being crochet, woodcarving, rifle shooting and Spanish. Muy bien.
After debating taking on yet another hobby today I started reflecting on what I have learnt in the last seven months since I became a content designer and what I still have to learn. So here are my reflections on my recent progress. Some are physical or interpersonal skills, others are just realisations about myself.
1. Many of the things that I was taught about punctuation and grammar in school have now become myths.
Depending on the era you were educated in you may have been told things such as NEVER put a comma before ‘and’, NEVER start a sentence with ‘but’ and you must ALWAYS put commas at the end of every part of an address and stagger each line. Turns out these are not militant rules, but more of a myth that is passed down. And I have held these hangups until now. But (see what I did there) thank you to content design guidelines and books like The Oxford Guide to Plain English, the truth is now out there.
When talking to friends, customers and even my partner I am often asked the above question. Understandably with the range of roles I work in there is often confusion as to what kind of designer I actually am. And whilst it is partially true, I am still a graphic designer, over the last few years I have added other disciplines to my work and broadened my skills somewhat. Adding to the confusion is that the job titles ‘content designer’ and ‘instructional designer’ give little away as to the other areas I also now work in. As anyone in the design industry will know, job titles are a moveable feast anyway and sometimes people just make their own up - ‘Digital Overload’ or ‘Wizard of Light Bulb Moments’ anybody? So I thought I would clarify all the areas in which I work and what the titles actually mean, to me at least.
As we have gone headlong into the new year, I have seen everyone around me making resolutions, committing to dry January (crazy people) and generally making plans for a better version of themselves. I actually spent most of 2018 reflecting in this way and made some major changes in my life.
For the past few years I have been working under the name Unlikely Genius as a sole trader alongside my full time jobs. I have always specialised in branding and print design. However, in my full time job I have taken something of a meandering path through a few different disciplines, which have all complemented each other and provided a really solid set of compatible skills and have landed me in a really interesting place right now. My latest role change has seen me take the leap to become a full time contractor. I have tested the waters for a few months and realised how great this lifestyle is for me, adapting to my needs and providing really interesting contracts to work on. As a result I have taken the step to turn Unlikely Genius into a limited company and merge my graphics work with the content and instructional design work I have been doing, to offer a full service agency. So as of December 19th 2018 I am now Unlikely Genius Ltd. Yay!
Unlikely Genius specialises in content, learning and graphic design.