Communicating Passionately and Methodically

How do we make information for our communities creative, usable, and easy to access? Thinking back to my academic days of User-Centered Design and Usability Testing Methodologies…it is all about AUDIENCE.

We have to find a focus! Seriously, we have to have a mission statement for the information we are trying to communicate. It takes a some time to sit down and write out a mission statement. The one thing that helps me frame this initiative is to identify three points.

1 – Who is the audience
2 – What is the purpose of this communication effort?
3 – How are we trying to reach this audience with this piece(s) of communication?

Not hard, but sit down and do this simple analysis. Take time to break down the audiences, list them all. Then, write out the purpose of the effort/initiative when communicating to these audience(s). next, how are you going to get this information to the audience. Take a few moments and see how each of these are inter-dependent. The method of distribution might differ from audience to audience and might even change your purpose.

Now use this research to write a mission statement for your overall initiative.  Explain it to yourself and say it out loud, imagine if you have to pitch this to your client.

OK…to make it usable, you have to know your audience. You have to live, breath, eat, sleep, smell, taste, etc…just like your audience. You have to know their pre-dispositions before your can communicate with them .So, take that little analysis above and list out each audience. Then for each one, write a complete description for each audience. Describe them in a way that you can paint a picture for your mother who knows nothing about these people. You want to paint that picture so you can almost see everything through their eyes.

Once you have done this little exercise, you should have a better understanding of your audience. Now, begin creating your piece of communication. Go through the creative process iteratively. Create static drafts of the design, rough drafts of the copy, story boards of the video, etc. Put together the first look.

Now, pull out that audience analysis you created previously, and ask yourself if you think they can see/understand this information. Use this as a litmus test. Then, conduct a simple usability test, invite individuals that represent each audience and let them interact with these “static” designs. You think of this as a focus group, but to me you are conducting a simple usability test. Let them play, ask questions, but do not predispose them .Do this on a global basis, looking at the overall communication initiative; and also do this very micro with a small part of the communication piece. RECORD THIER THOUGHTS. DO this either with note taking, audio recording, or video recording. Then…make changes based on the mission statement.

Now…create the piece of communication in a dynamic form. This means make the website, the Facebook page, the Blog, the Video, etc. Pull out the mission statement and audience analysis and compare the final dynamic piece and with this initial research. Find another group of individuals to come to review. Let them watch, interact, etc. with the dynamic piece of communication. Watch them as the interact. See where they engage and disengage. What their faces, their eyes, and their body language.

Does this make any sense. Is it too methodical. Well, you can make this as big or as small a process as you want. But ultimately, it is the purpose to come up with a creative idea, understand the audience, test with the audience, adapt, and launch. This empowers a community of creatives and audiences to engage in a process to learn and come up with a wonderful piece of creative!

Be passionate…communicate passionately…engage with your audience(s) passionately!