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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Navigation is not about the writer; it's about the reader.

The successful construction of workplace documents rests upon fulfilling the purpose with regard and respect for the reader and the occasion when the reader will encounter the document.

But once the document is ready, another event must happen:  the reader must be able to navigate the document--that is, use it easily.

For this to happen, there should have always been a "reader first" attitude at work in the writer or builder of the document so that not only will the logic move in concert with the reader's mind but the eyes of the reader will easily interpret the visual cues set up by the writer.

These cues or signals include every symbol on the page--from the words chosen to planting of the art work that leads the eye to the headings and subheadings that keep pointing like arrows:  this way next.

Here you go.

Turn here.



Now, let's move on.

For providing navigational cues for the reader is a step not unlike providing directions to a destination.

Some people are better map followers--better readers--than others.  For those who are word and symbol challenged, respect for design that results in greater ease of use by readers is key to leaving that reader with the impression:  That was not only well written, it was easy to use.

Think about all elements of design when you are planning your next workplace document.  Make sure your ideas are clear. But also make sure that your reader doesn't have to figure out your lay-out design strategy.

The more you develop a "you first" attitude toward the reader, the more successful your workplace document will be. 


  1. This blog entry provided me with a better understanding of the purpose of navigation and how it applies to writing.