Thanks to Bella Park for writing a guest blog for us. Bella is a copywriter and language consultant who specialises in making the complex accessible. She works closely with us at Accuracy Matters.
Have you ever had to pay a parking fine because you didn’t see the sign? It happened to me the other day in Putney car park. Gosh, I was cross.
So I complained vociferously to everyone I could find. Including a couple of rather distinguished friends – a professor of information design, and a judge. And they pointed out that if I hadn’t seen the sign, I could probably get away with it. In legal language, the terms of the contract were not incorporated properly.
And they weren’t. The sign wasn’t clear or visible. It was too small. The type size was too small. And if you were driving a car with the steering wheel on the right – as most people do in this country – you wouldn’t be able to see the sign anyway, as it was on the left-hand side of the car park entry gate.
Which brings me to my point: the indivisibility of design, content and purpose. Just as it doesn’t make sense to design a sign that nobody can see, it’s a waste of money to create a gorgeous website if it’s not going to show up on a search engine (because you haven’t thought about SEO). And there’s no point in building an expensive iPad app to create brand loyalty if it’s littered with grammatical and punctuation errors that will tarnish your brand – check out the Sainsbury’s shopping app.
I know I’m preaching to the converted here. And I’m still in dispute with Putney car park. I may need to send them an information design primer.