Recently, I saw that the EU used colorful flash cards to explain trade policy to President Trump.
While it makes for an interesting headline and article, it isn't like it's an inherently bad thing—if simple visuals were effective in this case, why not think about using this in our work as a best practice?
Regardless of whether you're sharing information with someone inexperienced with a given subject or who has a doctorate in the topic, people like information that is more easy to digest. I am a very visual learner—while I can learn from information that is restricted to a single format like text or audio, with visuals too? Total recall a week later is within the realm of possibility.
“Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” C. W. Ceran
Here is a great example of how smart people benefit from simplicity. I love the example of explaining how a computer works in terms of a library, something that most of us already understand. And, see the bit in there about sales? All too often companies fall into the trap of talking about points of parity, the company story, and all kinds of other things whilst not starting at what should be the start: Understanding pain. After you understand what pain exists, you can work on speaking to it and ultimately solving it.
What do people care about in your audience? Like, really care about? If you can speak to that, they'll perk their ears up, and you can also have a brevity of information—containing only the most imporant information to that audience—that will make your message ring loud and true.
Going back to flash cards though, what else can we do beyond understanding the audience? Design can make your message easier to remember as well.
How I'm Using Accessible Design
I enjoy thinking about how people use things like websites or their mobile devices. To that end, I have recently done things like:
- Added hardcoded subtitles to video because I learned that some 2/3rds of mobile users watch videos without sound;
- Begun introducing more consistent use of imagery, color, and tone to the site and social channels I manage and co-create content for Monday to Friday;
- Leveraged redundancy of bits of information to aid retention, keeping things fresh (right? ...guys?) with different word choices and types of visual aids; and
- I made this graphic just below, too. So here's the visual excitement for this post.
See More For Yourself
I found these cool examples of good v. bad design as well. Check them out for yourself and you won't be able to say you didn't learn something today.
So my quick take? Simple and effective visuals and design are not a "trumped up" technique at all. Let's put clear and memorable information to good use in our work!