We asked some of our instructors and consultants to describe the most common mistakes they see in Mapped documents. Here are their top 3, along with tips on how to avoid these mistakes and keep your business communications clear, reader-focused and easy to use.
Mistake #1: Confusing Process with Procedure
Everybody identified confusing process with procedure as the most common Mapping mistake. Mixing up these two information types is almost guaranteed to confuse and frustrate readers.
The best way to avoid making this mistake is to remember that a Procedure is a series of steps performed by an individual to accomplish a single task. If you’re writing about activities that involve more than one person or include several tasks, you’re probably looking at Process information, not Procedure.
Mistake #2: Failing to apply the Chunking Principle
Failing to apply the Chunking principle was the next most common mistake reported by our experts. When you don’t present readers with content in compact, manageable chunks, you force them to deal with more than they can comfortably handle. This impacts search time, comprehension and performance.
Avoid “under-chunking” by keeping the Chunking principle in mind as you organize your content. Remember that a chunk should contain no more than 7 plus or minus 2 items. Always be alert for opportunities to break down information into shorter chunks of relevant content.
Mistake #3: Using poorly written Block labels
Poorly written Block labels limit the effectiveness of many otherwise excellent Information Maps—in fact, this mistake is so common that it nearly earned the #2 slot. Lengthy Block labels are difficult for readers to scan quickly. A label that’s ambiguous or “cute” can leave readers confused about the Block’s contents.
Make sure to write brief, concise Block labels that describe the purpose, function or content of their Blocks. Always ask yourself, “What’s the main idea of this Block?” Remember that your labels must support scanning so readers can quickly locate the content they need.
We offer coaching and mentoring services to ensure that everyone in your group is applying the Information Mapping method correctly, so your organization can realize its full benefits. Contact us for more information.