Friday, August 25, 2006

Completeness vs clarity

[image gone missing... cartoon of door knob with ridiculously verbose instruction about how to turn it...]

We're working for a government department which is frequently lobbied to include extra information in guidance they give the public about their eligibility for money. It seems that every time advisers are asked by a member of the public about a situation that isn't in the guidance, they insist that it be added. As a result, the guidance is now overlong, hugely complex, and virtually unread by the people it's intended for. So it's no longer usable by the people it's for, who end up asking for advice... A few years ago I copied this cartoon from somewhere - possibly Private Eye. Makes the point very well, I think. (apologies if reproducing it here breaks a copyright rule - if the owner asks, I'll take it off).