Dani Ward

Designer | Teacher | Consultant

For Clients

On speaking clearly.

Why clear communication is more important than technical language.

Many of us work in specialized industries that all have a unique vocabulary. Since we spend 8 hours or more of our day working in these unique environments, it’s easy to assume anyone you’re talking to understands your everyday language. But chances are your customers, vendors, clients, and users don’t have the same level of education and experience in your field that you do. Using industry-insider jargon can quickly alienate people you’re trying to reach.

If you want to positively impact your audience, speaking clearly is incredibly important. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your next interaction with someone outside your business.

Speak simply.

Your company’s field — and thus vocabulary — may be entirely new to your client. Words and practices you take for granted may not be as intuitive to the person you’re talking to as they are to you. It’s certainly okay to use technical terms. They exist for a reason: to more succinctly describe specific tasks, functions, or experiences. Just make sure you define the terms you’re using. You want to make sure that everyone feels respected while ensuring that you’re all on the same page. Simplicity and clarity trump technicality.

Focus on who you’re talking to.

It’s easy to get swept up in the story you’re trying to sell your client or customer. That’s not what will reach them, though. Focus on their story. Why are they talking to you? What are their needs? What can you do for them that will help them meet their goals? By focusing on the person you’re talking to rather than focusing on your own business, you’re far more likely to make a positive impression and actually meet their needs.

Be specific.

Sometimes it’s easy to assume everyone is following along. It can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with your business to ask you to clarify something they’re afraid they should already know. Be specific in all of your communication, whether on the web, in person, or through email. Make sure you reference all involved aspects and persons: the project, the problem, the solution, actionable items. Restate what has been communicated to you to make sure you’re understanding correctly, and be sure to check in with everyone to make sure they’re up to speed.

Speaking clearly is an integral part of successful communication, from one-on-one conversations to advertising and marketing. Going out of your way to communicate clearly tells your clients that you care and builds the foundation for a lasting business relationship.

Responsive Web Design

This post first appeared on Iconography on September 23, 2015, and it has been edited for this site.

The web is an ever-changing medium. Design styles come and go. Browsers constantly update, changing how they display design and code. Gone are the days where a website was only ever viewed on a desktop monitor (and when we could accurately predict what size that monitor might be!).

The world-wide web isn’t static anymore. I’m not sure it ever really was.

And your website shouldn’t be static, either.

What is responsive web design?

Put simply, responsive web design describes a site that has been designed to display a website’s content legibly and usably on any screen in any context without the viewer having to make any adjustments. The concept of responsive web design has been around for a long time, since the early 2000’s. But it wasn’t until 2010, when web designer and developer Ethan Marcotte coined the phrase in his ground-breaking article on the subject.

Why do I need responsive web design?

Until recently, it was common practice to design a website with only a desktop browser in mind. Designers would choose a width and height as their primary canvas for design, and developers would translate that design into an equally static webpage. There was little concern for how a website might look on different platforms, and it wasn’t unusual for mobile versions to be developed that stripped much of the functionality of the site.

As smart phones, tablets, and other forms of accessing the web became more and more prevalent, the static approach to web design presented lots of problems. It failed to respect the time and availability of users accessing the site on non-desktop platforms, which in turn negatively affected companies whose sites were failing to convert those users into customers or clients because of bad interface experiences. Creating multiple versions of the site was impractical, as no designer or developer can predict with certainty what screens people will be using.

Approaching a website responsively, however, concentrates on the user experience above all else. The design is conceived with the understanding that it will never look the same across browsers and screens and the acceptance that a design shouldn’t be identical everywhere. Instead, the focus becomes marrying a company’s brand with a user’s viewing needs — which creates a beautiful, usable, readable experience for all who visit your site.

Want to learn more?

Take a look at some of Icon Graphics’ responsive web designs, then connect with us. We’re happy to help.