This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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09 December 2013

Starting afresh as an antidote to complexity

Here's an extract from Lynda's speech at  the Plain English Awards ceremony on 3 December. Many of you wanted the details of the book she referred to in her speech, so we've included them at the bottom of this post.

"We’ve being reading a brilliant book lately called Simple Conquering the crisis of complexity, by ‘simplicity warriors’ Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn.

Simple addresses the question of why we tolerate complexity in our lives and offers the concept of ‘breakthrough simplicity’ (starting afresh) as the antidote. The book is about:
  • how complexity is costing us money, undermining government and business, and putting our health and even our lives at risk.  (The book is full of stories and facts and figures.)
  • how people are overwhelmed by quantity and complexity and are looking for a ‘back to basics’ approach as a way to simplify their own lives
  • how organisations can use the concept of simplicity (especially in documents) to revolutionise the way they operate and achieve their purpose.  
Simple is also about focusing on simplicity as a bottom-line business issue. It’s about simplifying products, services, and communications to improve relationship with customers and stakeholders, and about being more productive and saving time and money.

Much as I loved Simple, it told me (in very inspiring ways) what I already knew from our work over 23 years, and by the stories we know from the organisations we work with.

We’re also writing a book (called Rewrite) that captures the stories of mostly New Zealand organisations that are fighting the complexity battle. For one section of the book, we asked organisations we have worked with what their motive was for starting afresh (to find breakthrough simplicity) and investing heavily in plain language. You’ll find their stories inspiring too."

Read more about Rewrite and pre-order a copy

Buy Simple here

04 December 2013

Clear disclosure will win customer loyalty and improve compliance all round

The debate continues: how much should banks tell customers about their loan arrangements? And how best to do it clearly? Stuff today discusses the idea of a standardised document across all financial institutions to allow customers to shop around and easily compare terms and conditions.

Our financial decisions and experiences have a lot in common with our health decisions and experiences. In both areas, we have to take in a lot of information, understand it and use it to make a decision we may have to live with for many years.

In New Zealand, the Code of Health and Disability Consumers' Rights (1996) protects consumers in their health decisions and experiences with health providers.

Right 6 (1) says 'You have the right to all the information you need to make an informed choice or give your informed consent'.

So banks could learn from the health and disability sector and give people all the information they need to make an informed choice. Information written in plain language in a well-designed document will encourage customer loyalty, and make it easier for customers to understand their financial obligations.