“Making Sure That Our Messages Can Be Read And Understood”

When we are designing a print ad, a landing page, or business card, we want people to read our message – without a lot of difficulty and certainly with no confusion. As we write for older audiences and older eyes, this becomes even more important to consider. We want the message to be attractive and to be noticed, but readability is – or should be – our main objective.We must serve our audience in addition to marketing ourselves or publishing our message. Some bold and script font styles are attractive in their own right, but when a whole paragraph is written that way or when the type is quite small or crowded together, it becomes very difficult to figure out what the message actually is. The are letters and numbers that easily can be confused for something similar depending on the type style that is used.

We must be careful of making the page look like an art gallery with too many different styles, colors, bold, italic, all capitals, or ones that are too pretty.

For years, experts have been telling use that we need to use a serif type face – one with the lines and tails attached to the individual characters to increase readability and help the reader – but many people like and prefer a clean look like arial, helvetica, verdana, or trebuchet. Use the fancy script and more ornate styles for special emphasis or headlines – or leave them alone altogether.

Regardless, inspect the type style or font we intend to use before actually committing to it. Make sure that we can easily tell a “6” from an “8” or a “1” from a “7” and other numbers and letters that might be easily confused –
especially in a smaller point size.

Remember that our goal is for people to read our message and call or email us – considerably easier if they can read our phone number or email address without the aid of a magnifying glass because the print is too small or not clean.

Communication is all about having the recipient of our message understand what we meant, and that is greatly enhanced when the message can be read without difficulty or confusion.

If we make our printed messages so hard to read – or create the appearance that they might be – we run the risk of not getting the readership we desire or intend. Writing a message, creating a webpage, publishing a business card, or putting anything else in print that is not read helps no one. We get no benefit, and the people we want to help through the possibility of them engaging us and our services derive no benefit either.

We take time and effort – and sometimes money – to create a message that we want people to read, so let’s pay particular attention to what it looks like so we increase our chances of having people actually take the time to read it.

Once we are sure that people can read what we write and create because we have used an appropriate type style and a large enough point size, then we can focus on our message to make sure that it is easy to read and then comprehend.

Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.
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