In order for creators to facilitate understanding they should be designing the content for the consumers - for someone else.
The most important thing as a creator is to avoid being your own audience. You know too much about the subject already and you’ll just end up summing up your own understanding.
Using personas is a good way to avoid this. In essence try to think of a typical person who might consume the work - then design with them in mind throughout. Even better, speak to some real users and find out what they want!
Jennifer Daniel gives a very clever and very simple example of this...
The requirement might be for something surface level and simple to suit a consumer who will only want the basics.
"What is the level of captivation?" Will they be interested at all, will they require some persuasion? Do you care if they aren't interested - you just need to get the point across?
But also consider the setting. Bart is about to go skateboarding here so he has:
Or this might be a more deep thinking and thoughtful consumer who will need more detail.
Lisa is all set to sit down and study, so there is:
So is it Bart or Lisa you are designing for? It may be that you can layer the information to work for both Bart and Lisa - we’ll come onto that in the Design section.
This brings us to subject knowledge.
What do the audience know and not know?
The baggage that people bring - or don’t bring is really important, like the CERN example, where they assumed we knew what 5sigma meant.
Andy Kirk discusses this chart of Lionel Messi's goals for Barcelona. A well-designed chart in itself BUT it assumes quite a lot of knowledge.
If you are a football fan then you might know:
Think back to the understanding section from Chapter 1. On the Patrick Banks chart we are left at the reading stage. We can't make much sense of it. We can't interpret it! This is a problem with a lot of data visualisations, like the CERN example.
We need to help people get to the point of understanding
When subject matter experts present information the danger is that they ASSUME that people have the same level of subject knowledge. Even if the team you’re writing for does have some knowledge, there could always be a new member of the team who isn’t up-to-speed yet. Making it easier for that person will make it easier for everyone else too.
We now know who - our audience.
But why are we presenting the data?
That's what we'll cover in Chapter 3: Purpose