Writing and Designing Effective Communication: A Comprehensive Course

From left to right: Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, Jann Keenan, EdS

From left to right: Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, Jann Keenan, EdS

Jann Keenan, Ed.S & Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, IHA Strategic Partners

Jann Keenan and Janet Ohene-Frempong gave a daylong workshop on strategies for communicating effectively with constituents through both print and online materials. They used many samples created throughout their careers to illustrate what works and what doesn’t work. Ohene-Frempong stressed the health communication and health literacy must incorporate a reader-centered approach. This is the best way to engage, support, and motivate readers. They offered tips for how to implement this approach in both writing and designing materials in different media.

The presenters discussed how to write effective materials by offering tips on content, organization, and style. They also discussed effective design and page layout techniques to engage readers and increase understanding. If you aren’t designing your own materials, then it’s important to raise awareness in your designer about why design needs to be done a certain way. Keenan emphasized that an early buy-in from all partners in the creation of patient materials is key to creating health literate communication.

The presenters explained how to assess the readability of text and design and explored how to use readability tools and field-testing. They discussed how to revise text and design to improve readability. They also coached participants on how to plan a writing project. They encouraged attendees to be advocates for their readers. If there is crucial information you want to include, but limited space, the writer must fight to keep content that will benefit the end-user.

The workshop included two group exercises: a writing exercise and a revising exercise. The presenters led the group through the exercises step by step. The main take away from the session was that we must write for our readers and end-users. Being focused on the end-user is crucial to the creation of clear and effective communication.

User Centered Design for Audiences with Limited Literacy Skills: An Introduction to Research and Testing Methods for Print and Online Materials

Xanthi Scrimgeour, MHEd, MCHES

Xanthi Scrimgeour, MHEd, MCHES

Xanthi Scrimgeour, MHEd, MCHES & Stacy Robison, MHEd, MCHES, CommunicateHealth, Inc.

Xanthi Scrimgeour and Stacy Robison facilitated a pre-conference workshop titled, “User Centered Design for Audiences with Limited Literacy Skills:  An Introduction to Research and Testing Methods for Print and Online Materials.”

The definition of User Centered Design (UCD) was provided as “Involving end-users (your audience) in the design and development of a product, message, or campaign.”

Stacy Robison, MHEd, MCHES

Stacy Robison, MHEd, MCHES

The workshop focused on the following:

  • Steps to the User Centered Design process (Co-creation, Participatory design)
  • Methods in getting to know your audience (or clients) in order to involve them in serving as “co-creators” in designing key marketing tools to be used by actual clients
  • Methods to conduct user research and organizing information gathered
  • Testing Methods for getting feedback from your target audiences
  • How to involve participants with limited literacy
  • Ways to save time and money on user research and testing

The facilitators provided 5 reasons to involve your actual “audience” as part of the co-creation/participatory design:

  • Just because you think your material is awesome doesn’t mean that your audience has the same opinion.
  • You can waste a lot of time and money developing materials and products that your actual audience will not use.
  • Involving your current audience will allow you to assess whether or not your messages will be understood.
  • Target audience members will be empowered and invested in the success of your product.
  • It will make you a better communicator.

Both facilitators discussed the importance of talking directly to your audience (client, patient, etc.) to create “personas.”  Personas are created based on a mix of people.  It is based on actual research with your audience to prevent the persona from being a “stereotype” – and not necessarily related to people.  One can achieve creating this step by performing focus groups, one on one client interviews, collage exercises, etc.  It is important to also create a specialized group of individuals (recruits) to develop personas.

Our facilitators engaged attendees of the session in interactive exercises to further describe and understand the value of creating personas.