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Readability as a Core Value

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Companies, large and small, put a lot of time and money into identifying and declaring their core values. The result of all this activity is a list of broad and intangible phrases like "customer-focus," "sense of urgency" and "results driven." The purpose of these core values is to guide employees as they go about their daily work.

If I were to declare the core values for my business, I'd start with readability. As a visual storyteller and communicator this value, or guiding principle, constantly whispers in the back of my mind: "Is it readable?"

Paying Attention to Readability

Almost everyone knows readability when they see it—and especially when they can't. The biggest problem is that content creators are not always paying attention when they are responsible for readability. An art professor once told me, "almost everyone can see the world around them, but not everyone is trained to see the world around them." Readability requires a communicator that sees the message through the eyes of the audience. Readability requires mindfulness for clarity and simplicity.

In the world of PowerPoint and presentations, readability is of paramount importance and, at the same time, one of the greatest challenges because there is so much to consider. Readability goes beyond the size and selection of fonts. Readability is about choosing the right colors—with optimal contrast. It's about white space and margins—giving the eye a break. It's about the resolution of pixels and crisp, smooth edges.

Readability Goes Beyond Words on a Page or Screen

Think about the "readability" of icons, sounds or even facial expressions and body language. What about the ambient light in a room or the luminosity of a projector bulb? And finally, consider the impact of distance on readability—is the content readable from the back of the room?

In the end, readability is about sending and receiving a message and anticipating the "noise" that can delay, or prevent, its delivery. In the next few posts, I'll explore these considerations of readability in greater depth.

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