San Luis Obispo Technical & Business Communicators

March 26, 2012 Event Summary

“Seven Ways to Use Information Design to Create Remarkable User Experiences”

Business, technical, instructional, and marketing content creators have often asked, "What do I need to know about designing information in my area of expertise? How can I do it in a way that deeply engages my audience and leads to measurable increases in user, visitor, learner, or customer responses and levels of satisfaction? Are there any universal guidelines that I can follow, regardless of my goals, purpose, subject matter, and audience?"

The answer is yes! While there are many reasons why we design information (such as for Web sites, publications, training, marketing material, presentations, and multimedia productions), timeless, classic, research-based principles do exist. They apply to a broad range of business and technical situations, and span the full spectrum of content creation.

At this event, Adele Sommers, Ph.D. explored seven universal guidelines for developing business, technical, marketing, and training content that produces action through inspiration and understanding.

These straightforward, practical, and easy-to-follow tips can transform content creation from a rote exercise into a potent process that strongly supports what your customers, users, learners or viewers need to do. When you also apply the related response-generating tips, you can dramatically boost participation and customer loyalty!

Adele discussed the seven tips under the three main topics below:

Topic 1: Lay a Foundation for Clear Understanding

To lasso your viewers’ attention and trigger their ability to comprehend, recall, and respond, begin by building a sturdy platform with the first three tips:

  • Tip 1: Use persona profiles to understand your audience members — what makes them tick?
  • Tip 2: Structure information to help people scan, skip, and retrieve what matters
  • Tip 3: Strive to minimize audience overload, especially in training and slide presentations

Topic 2: Help Your Audiences Do What They Really Need to Do

This next set of tips focuses on a deeper layer of audience success — how to anticipate what your audience members might be doing or encountering at any given moment when using the content in your products, services, Help systems, or publications. Once you've really thought this through, you can fine-tune what you've created to help users achieve their real-world goals more easily, while helping them avoid annoyances, hassles, and even catastrophes, as follows:

  • Tip 4: Research your audience’s “circumstances of use” — by considering when, where, and how people use your “stuff.”
  • Tip 5: Eliminate all unnecessary tasks, and test everything for ease of use.

Topic 3: Add Novelty and Interactivity to Stir Emotion & Spur Action!

The final set of tips delves into the intrigue, fascination, and all-around sense of excitement you can incorporate into your productions to spark the audience responses you seek. For instance, regardless of the purpose of a Web site (as just one content example), it must aim to motivate people to make decisions that lead to conversion. It's no longer enough for a site to give a visitor a pleasant, "I can do it" experience. The site must compel and inspire visitors to say, "I will do it!" and then take action based on their feelings. The two relevant tips are:

  • Tip 6: Inspire and persuade audiences through emotion-generating experiences.
  • Tip 7: Offer irresistible calls to action, with a variety of incentives to get there!

Adele's presentation and handouts go into more detail on these seven tips, and include downloadable tools and examples!

See below to access the presentation materials and handouts...

Downloads & Resources

For best results, please use the following tips when downloading files:

  • Windows Internet Explorer: Right-click the link and select Save Target As... You will be prompted to save the file to a specific location on your hard drive.
  • Other platforms or browsers: Right-click the link (click and hold on the Mac) and select Download link to disk to save the file to a specific location on your hard drive.

Access Adele's presentation handouts:

Event Facilitator:

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the president of Business Performance Inc. (see more at, which specializes in business consulting, technical and business communication, presentation design, online learning, and training. Adele has been an independent business performance consultant for fourteen years following a career in the aerospace industry. She and her associates work with companies of all sizes to produce award-worthy results for online learning and multimedia design projects, organizational improvement, strategic business planning, marketing, information development, performance support systems, interface design, usability testing, and process redesign. Adele has led the San Luis Obispo Technical & Business Communicators (SLO TBC; formerly the SLO chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, or SLO STC) since 2002.

SLO TBC usually holds its events on the 4th Monday of the month from October through June. We generally take a break over the summer and resume in the fall. For more information, please contact us.