Visual Layout Ensure Easy Access to Information

Using a visual layout makes sense when you have long units of copy containing more than five facts, statistics, or numbers. For example, consider an annual report that asks readers to compare the past four quarters' revenue figures within a paragraph of text. No problem. But now imagine being asked to compare the past twelve months' revenue figures within a paragraph of text. Impossible.

Instead of narrative text, use a bar chart to make the information easy to access and easy to understand. The visual layout organizational structure is effective anytime you have a quantity of data that needs to be accessible. The information can be presented as a graph, chart, table, diagram, schematic, matrix, list, or bulleted points. You can use a visual layout in addition to or instead of narrative text. Employee benefits booklets and proposals are examples of materials for which a visual layout organizational structure works well.

Employee Benefits Booklets

Consider how easy it would be to locate the information you seek using Table 2.1. If you're a full-time employee wanting to compare your benefits to those of part-time employees, you can simply scan the columns and note the differences.

Proposals

"I combined a visual layout organizational structure with a category organizational structure," said Chad, an engineer. "Our proposals have to reach two different kinds of people: Data Collectors, who have a technical background and want a lot of technical details; and Producers, who don't want the details but instead want a summary, bottom-line overview.

"Using this format made a huge difference. We won more contracts— and nothing had changed except the addition of the visual layout organizational structure.

"I've always used a category organizational structure. Now, on every page of the proposal I create an 'Executive Summary' in a narrow column. I use a bullet point to highlight an important benefit or a key statistic, for example. The wider column is regular text." (See Exhibit 2.1.)

This approach, segregating different kinds of content to target different groups of readers or to highlight different kinds of information, is a versatile strategy.

Table 2.1 Full-Time vs. Part-Time Employee Benefits

Full-Time Employees Part-Time Employees

Vacation

x weeks after

x hours after

1 year's service

1 year's service

x weeks after

x hours after

5 years' service

5 years' service

x weeks after

x hours after

8 years' service

8 years' service

Health

x percent

x percent

Insurance

company paid

company paid

Sick Days

x paid days per year

x paid days per year,

prorated

Holidays

x days per year

x days per year

Professional

Paid as agreed upon

Paid as agreed upon

Development

between employees

between employees

and their supervisors

and their supervisors,

prorated

0 0

Responses

  • Impi
    How to ensure easy access to information?
    7 years ago

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