Knowing Your Audience

What Is Science-Based Content Design?

A Framework and Methodology for Creating Content that Works!

Science-Based Content Design teaches you to understand your audience in a deeper and more fundamental way, and to apply that knowledge in ways that can lead to a better user experience, increased customer satisfaction, lowered production costs, and deliverables that inform and delight.

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Science-Based Content Design©

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Tina M. Kister
August 11, 2022

Science-Based

Content Design

Knowing your audience is a critical part of creating content that is relevant, timely, useful, and usable.
Science-Based Content Design teaches you to understand your audience in a deeper and more fundamental way, and to apply that knowledge in ways that can lead to a better user experience, increased customer satisfaction, lowered production costs, and deliverables that inform and delight.

What Is Science-Based Content Design?

Science-Based Content Design© (SBCD) is a proprietary framework and methodology for creating content that aligns with the way human beings – all human beings – naturally perceive and process information.

Technical Definition

Science-Based Content Design© (SBCD) – A framework and methodology for creating content that aligns with the way all human beings naturally perceive and process information

Knowing Your Audience

If you’re a content person, then you’re familiar with the general stages of developing information: Research, Drafting, Reviewing, Refining, Publishing, etc. Regardless of your field, genre, or media, it’s very likely that, early on in the cycle, understanding your audience is a key component.

InfoDev Lifecycle

The information-development lifecycle typically includes a stage for getting to know your audience.

Audience Analysis

Organizations invest time and money in getting to know their audiences, usually through some sort of formal audience analyses that can include personas, user stories, empathy maps, or other tools.

User Persona

A user persona is a brief that describes an archetypal user by providing context and detail.

Empathy Map

An empathy map is a visualization tool used to personalize information about an archetypal user by imaging what the user might say, think, do, and feel.

User Story

A user story is a mini narrative written from the user’s perspective and tied to a specific feature (usually in the development of software products).

Audience analysis typically includes collecting information about certain types of people, such as what their education level is, what their marital status is, and their employment history. This approach is based on taking the whole of humanity and segregating people into groups, then attaching labels to those groups.

This can be very valuable for making sure that the content we create resonates with specific users through shared values, language, and experiences.

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Audience analysis is the most critical part of any information design project. Without an intimate understanding of our users and their needs, how can we design information intended to assist them, or help them do their jobs more efficiently?
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— Elizabeth Filippo, Merging Usability Practices with Document Design and Development, p. 9 

Science-Based Approach

However, the approach is fundamentally based on taking the larger population of humanity and segregating it into smaller groups of people based on common characteristics. SBCD takes the opposite approach. Rather than focusing on what sets people apart from one another, we focus on what human beings have in common.

It’s based on how all human beings perceive and process information, regardless of specific psychological, geographic, economic, or other characteristics. And it works because it’s based on our shared physiology – on how our eyes, brains, and minds work because of our basic anatomy and cognition.

Diagram of Eye and Brain

Science-Based Content Design focuses on how all human beings perceive and process information due to our shared physiology. Rather than focusing on what sets us apart, Science-Based Content Design focuses on what we have in common as human beings – the shared anatomy, neurochemistry, and heuristics that we all use to make sense of the world around us.

Effective Decision-Making

This knowledge of human perception provides an evidence-based foundation for making content-related decisions, such as how to:

  • Choose colors.
  • Determine font size.
  • Ensure a coherent order of information.
  • Understand and apply design logic.
  • Work with basic information types.
  • Create a compelling and coherent layout.
  • Ensure legibility.
  • Design a usable heading structure.
  • Use and optimize different types of lists.
  • And so much more!

This knowledge of human perception provides an evidence-based foundation for making content-related decisions, such as how to:

  • Choose colors.
  • Determine font size.
  • Ensure a coherent order of information.
  • Understand and apply design logic.
  • Work with basic information types.
  • Create a compelling and coherent layout.
  • Ensure legibility.
  • Design a usable heading structure.
  • Use and optimize different types of lists.
  • And so much more!

Clarifying Terms, Advancing Knowledge

Science-Based Content Design also provides a much-needed basis for precisely defining concepts that are traditionally vague and ambiguous within the content-development world.

Based on human perception, we can clearly define traditionally elusive terms such as:

  • Content
  • Design
  • Quality
  • Aesthetics

Defining these terms precisely and consistently is necessary for advancing knowledge, improving processes, and raising awareness about the value of the work we do.

Conclusion

Many of the traditions and conventions around content are outdated and no longer relevant. They often reflect tools, technology, and values that predate the rise of online communications.

In addition, many formal training and education programs overlook the importance of how human beings engage with and respond to content on a physiological level. Many focus on theory without enough practical application. And most focus on “content” as text and content-development as writing.

But we forget that content includes all perceivable elements – both text and non-text. And we often lose sight of the fact that text is visual stimuli, and writing is the visual representation of language. In fact, all content-based communications are about creating a sensory experience for our audience. To communicate effectively with content, we have to understand how human beings process sensory information in order to derive meaning and make sense of the world.

As content professionals, it’s critical that we understand exactly what content is, how human beings process and engage with content, and how we can use that knowledge to make better content-design decisions.

Cultivating this knowledge and putting it into practice helps our end users and our organizations be more successful. With Science-Based Content Design, we can transform content so it’s both usable and beautiful. We can provide information that is relevant, timely, concise, consistent, and usable. We can present complex information that is easy to find, read, understand, use, and remember.

It also helps us, as content professionals, demonstrate the value of the work we do in an immediate and visceral way. With it, we can show people the value in what we do, rather than just explain it with words.

Cite This Page

Author
Tina M. Kister
Date Published
August 11, 2022
Title
Knowing Your Audience

What Is Science-Based Content Design?

:

A Framework and Methodology for Creating Content that Works!
Website

,

InfoDev Academy

Date Accessed
September 22, 2022 1:07 am
URL

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Program
Science-Based Content Design
Series
Information Development
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