Wayfinding difficulties at the art gallery

I'm emerging from a fog of overwork just in time for Christmas To celebrate my free day yesterday, we went to the Brisbane art galleries The two exhibitions that we saw were wonderful But finding our way around proved to be more of a challenge even though we've been to both galleries several times over the years It was the signage to find the cafe and toilets that caused us troubleAfter seeing the first exhibition, in the Gallery of Modern Art, we decided that lunch would be a good...

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Technology that helps (and hinders) good communication

Last week I went along to an event for Science Week It involved five school students giving short presentations about their science projects and Queensland’s Chief Scientist speaking about the future of science It was inspiring – particularly for the children in the audience, who were given a glimpse of what science can offerThe communication technology used to support the event caught my attention – partly because the surroundings were deliberately high-tech, and partly because the...

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Creating communication confusion

It's all too easy to create communication confusion - and often difficult to work out how or why it happensI recently managed to create confusion amongst some work colleagues, and it has left me wondering about how to prevent similar mistakes happening againThe situation was simple enough I was due to have a meeting with three colleagues, at the university campus where I work one day a week But a few hours before the scheduled meeting, I had a phone call from school: I needed to collect my...

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Evaluating evaluation forms

My 10-year-old son attended a science workshop today, and when it ended he was asked to complete an evaluation formHe did what most of us do when we're given an evaluation form: he completed it quickly, without giving it too much thoughtI was struck by the 'teacher-focused language' that it used I can't help but wonder whether the children could reasonably answer the questions and whether there could be any consistency in the ways that the group of children would...

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Word templates that confuse and frustrate

As a consultant, I frequently write proposals and tenders They're an essential part of finding workMost of the time, the process is relatively straightforward: I concern myself with the content of my proposal and submit it as a PDF based on a Word document I use a very simple template that I've developed over the years Layout comes at the end of the process: after I've developed the contentOccasionally, I'm asked to tender for large projects, and these frequently involve working...

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Which way the strip? Following on-screen payment instructions

I find that most payment systems require me to stop, concentrate, and think No two machines seem to work in quite the same way, so I need to focus on which button to use to select the right account, which way to insert my card, and when to enter my PINWhen I borrowed a DVD from a machine this week, I had great trouble figuring out which way to swipe my card It was yet another reminder that we don't really have a satisfactory way of pictorially representing the card's orientationThe machine made...

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Paying bills: tiny type & too much choice

Bills seem to be becoming more crowded as we're offered ever-increasing options for paying For me, the combination of too much information and tiny type causes mistakesLast night I paid my phone bill I'm offered 7 ways to pay: direct debit, credit card by phone, cheque by post, in person in the company's shop, BPay by phone, BPay online, and the post office These options are listed along the bottom of the bill, with instructions for each I'm not sure what the type size is, but it's tiny By...

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Meet reader expectations to reduce mistakes

Here's an example of how my assumptions as a reader led to me getting a message back-to-frontMy family and I went to the Wet n Wild water slide park a few days ago We had been there for several hours before I realised that I was reading the map incorrectly, and this was encouraging me to draw the wrong conclusions about the height restrictions on different rides As my youngest child is only 7, the height restrictions were important for usHere's part of the map:Two strong assumptions guided me...

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More on confusing technology

This week I've encountered yet another situation when technology seems to get in the way and complicate communication, rather than making things more simple I've come away with a real sense that the technology interface is being used because it can be, not because it's usefulThis story is about the renewal of my business name, Information Design Centre Until recently, business names were registered at the state level Every 3 years, I received an invoice for the registration, which was easy to...

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