Identifying Effective vs. Ineffective Communication Design
Hello! I’m Jonathan, and I hope to study human-computer interaction here at Carnegie Mellon. I’m very invested in technical innovation because of its limitless potential and its tremendous impact on everything from education and healthcare to the arts. Thoughtful design and presentation have been consistently significant, so I’m very excited to learn more and cultivate a strong data-driven and user-centered perspective!
Before working with (and indeed, creating) effective communication design, however, it is important to first identify and understand it. Here we explore an example of effective communication design and contrast it with an ineffective piece.
Effective Communication Design
Slack is perhaps one of my top three most-used apps. It’s very easy to join, use, and integrate with other platforms and services. The intuitive design of the platform is very clean and greatly helps streamline my collaborations and workflow.
Similarly, their website is extremely clear and provides a thorough and clear introduction to non-users. We consider their online description of available features.
Slack immediately shares their fundamental value: unifying our workflow into one platform. By providing an example of a sample workspace, we can better understand the software and what to expect.
With the two big buttons, they also make it very easy for us to proceed and learn more — let’s choose “See all features”.
I immediately feel that this is a different section from the top of the page. Here, the tan background creates cohesion among these elements as the viewer scrolls. In addition, the bolded text clearly defines the main appeal of each section— easy collaboration and improved organization for any team.
These little white blocks concisely summarize the features. They are easy to read and digest, so I am learning but not overwhelmed. The consistent format of each block and cluster creates a predictable pattern, and I feel a sense of unity among them as one collective description. We are soothed by the simplicity of the simple, smooth design as well.
In addition, the neat little graphics do not overpower but simply complement the information being presented and create variety in the space.
Through this webpage, it is very easy to understand the value added with using Slack. A prospective user would have a good example of what a workspace would look like and be able to anticipate coordinating their projects from one place. By creating a webpage that is very easy to navigate and explore with consistent branding choices, Slack has asserted a unique and unified concept and set up high expectations for their application.
Ineffective Communication Design
Growing up, I frequented my local public library to check out books, study, and use collaborative meeting spaces when tutoring or working with friends outside of school.
A few years ago, they redesigned the website to become more modern and better advertise upcoming events and available services. These include library card applications, COVID-19 testing, and lists of staff favorites, to name a few.
Without significant experience or familiarity with the webpage or the services offered, one would have a hard time navigating this page.
The elements on the webpage are extremely large, robust, and similar to each other. For example, the pictures under the “Explore More” heading celebrate reading but do not necessarily depict the service they reference. In addition, the colors on the page are extremely vibrant, even bordering on aggressively bright.
This makes it slightly difficult to stay oriented while scrolling, much less get an overall sense of what is happening and where I can learn about different services. The page is very dense as well, making it strenuous for the viewer to parse and digest the information presented.
Trying to find primary features is also difficult. Some key resources that I needed frequently that should be easily accessible are search functions for books, access to my account, and a way to find the specific page for my local branch to see its amenities, hours of operation, and calendar of events.
Unfortunately, the focus of the homepage is not on those, and I struggle to find them scattered around the page. By heuristic, I scroll to look below the big banner for key links, but to no avail; these main features are instead listed at the very top, orders of magnitude smaller than the other elements, with little contrast to help them stand out.