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Navigating the Curse of Knowledge in Design: Bridging the Communication Gap

Have you ever tried explaining something you're super into to someone who's not on the same page? That's what they call the Curse of Knowledge. It's like assuming everyone's on the same wavelength, but it's often not the case. In this article, I'm diving into how this plays out in the web and graphic design world and how we can ensure everyone's on the same page. For more on this conversation, please listen to the accompanying podcast episode.

A Personal Encounter: Navigating the Curse

Seeing it from the Client's Side

Picture this: a designer's meeting a new client to revamp their website. They're all pumped up, but when they drop the term ‘SEO,' the client is left scratching their head. It's a classic case of the Curse of Knowledge – where an expert assumes everyone's speaking the same language. It's like having your own secret code that no one else gets.

I recently landed a new client named ‘SAO Consulting.' While discussing the website with her, I joked about how hard it is to say SAO because my brain is used to saying SEO. This experience illustrates the Curse of Knowledge, as my client had no idea what SEO is, so the humour was lost on her.

Ditching the Jargon for Clarity

Jargon: The Silent Culprit

Jargon is like the secret handshake of any industry. It's the language only the insiders understand, leaving others feeling like they're at a costume party without a costume. I talked about this in episode 217 – Cutting Through The Jargon. Be sure to listen to that episode to get the whole picture. As designers, we must ensure our clients understand everything we tell them. To ensure this happens, we need to minimize jargon and, when required, explain what our insider terms mean to the unknowing clients.

Widows, and Orphans, and Rivers, oh my

Designers in typography and long-format layouts should be familiar with terms like ‘widows,' ‘orphans,' and ‘rivers.' But it's like speaking a different language unless you're deep into design. Telling a client you eliminated all the ‘orphans' may leave them confused unless you also explain what ‘orphans' are.

Nobody wants to appear stupid. And clients will often hide their lack of knowledge with our jargon out of embarrassment. Our job is to forestall that embarrassment by explaining everything thoroughly in ways our clients can understand.

Tips for Clearer Design Conversations

Everyone Starts with a Blank Canvas

When you're in design mode, it's easy to forget not everyone's on the same page. That's where treating each client like they're starting fresh comes in. Explaining things from scratch opens the conversation, ensuring everyone's on board.

Breaking it Down: The Power of Straightforward Talk

Explaining things step-by-step clears up any confusion and shows off your expertise. It's like being the guide in a maze – clients trust you to lead the way. This kind of clear communication builds solid client relationships.

Bottom Line: Mastering the Art of Design Chatter

The Curse of Knowledge isn't just a design thing – it's everywhere. But in graphic and web design, where visuals and concepts can get complex, it's crucial to keep communication crystal clear. By ditching the jargon, explaining things like you're talking to a friend, and being patient, you'll build strong client relationships.

So, let's make sure we're all on the same page. No more secret codes or jargon – just good, straightforward talk. That's how we'll create designs that truly resonate and leave everyone feeling in the loop. Let's break free from the Curse of Knowledge and keep those design conversations rockin'!

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcription of this episode. This transcript was created with the help of AI and transcription tools. It has not been edited for errors or accuracy.

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