Writing for the Web: The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two

tiedye2During our webinars and presentations, we often ask audiences to participate in a memory test. Here’s how it works: we put a slide containing a lot of words on the screen for 20 seconds. Then we take the slide away and ask everybody to write down as many words as they can remember. We’ve repeated this memory test hundreds of times over the years for audiences ranging from under a dozen people to several hundred. The results have been amazingly consistent. No matter where or when we do this, the vast majority of people are able to recall 5 to 9 words.

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Mail: A short history of Speed and SPAM

In the wake of each innovation new threats are catching up with us. The history of mail is one of speeding up and finding ways to prevent unwanted interferences.

About horses and ponies

robberyCouriers in ancient Persia rode rapidly from station to station, changing horses at each station. The Mongols did this, too, and much later in the United States the Pony Express used a similar system to deliver mail across the American continent.

It took a long time for messages to reach their destination. And there was the challenge of protecting the stations from robbers.

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6 steps toward compliance with CFPB guidelines

cfpb1Have you ever noticed the contrast between the slick, enticing copy of a credit card offer and the confusing, legalese-laden fine print of your monthly statement? It’s hard to believe they came from the same company.

If you’re frustrated by the gobbledygook, you aren’t alone. The federal government’s financial industry watchdog agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is fed up, too. The CFPB has been urging financial services companies to provide the public with clear, accessible “consumer-friendly” information about their products and the terms of their agreements.

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Memorial Day Mappers' Morsels


Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in the USA. Many of our friends in other countries are also welcoming the change of seasons. At Information Mapping we like to celebrate the arrival of the warm weather by firing up the grill. We expect that many of you do too. That's why this week we're sharing a recipe from the Mappers' Morsels cookbook.

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No complaining about Plain Language

informationmapping-canvas 05They’ve finally figured it out! Who are "they," you ask? Organizations of all types, big and small, public and private sector, across the globe. They’ve finally figured out that the different consumers of their content—customers, suppliers, partners, regulators, tech experts, and end users– all read at different levels and abilities.

Through sometimes painful experience, these organizations have learned that using Plain Language means clarity and ease of understanding for the reader, and that it pays off in customer satisfaction, loyalty, trust and “stickiness”!

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Improving airline safety with better technical documentation

jettransportWhen you buy a new car it comes with a sleek little owner’s manual that fits into your glove box. With a new jet airliner, things aren’t that simple.  Every jetliner comes with a massive library of documentation covering every aspect of inspection, maintenance and repair of the plane’s systems. And “every aspect” is no exaggeration.

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5 things to do before moving to the cloud

5cloudOver the last six months we here at Information Mapping have been in the process of moving all our information to the cloud. While the decision to move to the cloud was an easy one for us, the move itself hasn’t been as simple. Knowledge Management is our business. And yet, like the cobbler’s children who have no shoes, we had a lot of work to do to organize our information before moving to the cloud.

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Improve documentation to drive down healthcare costs

Improve-documentation-to-drive-down-healthcare-costsFor many people it’s a problem to read and understand the confusing instructions that come with some medication. Last year over 125,000 Americans died simply because they didn’t take their pills or follow doctors’ orders. On addition to all those deaths, thousands more experienced continuing ill health or required additional hospitalization. Healthcare professionals call this “patient noncompliance,” and it’s a very expensive problem. In 2012 it cost the public an estimated $289 billion.

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Stopping the disappearing act: government knowledge capture


If you’re among those who think government isn’t working very efficiently nowadays, just wait until next year. As of 2014, more than half of our federal government’s civilian employees will be eligible for retirement. Considerably more than half of those eligible are expected to actually retire. Fully 30% of the government’s workforce will walk out the door.

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Writing Web Content: Garbage in, Garbage out


Writing for the web today can sometimes feel like you’re trying to put a puzzle together with a blindfold on. It’s difficult to imagine how the final page is going to look and feel because all the content you are writing is input into small silos in a Content Management System.

I first ran into this experience a few years ago as I worked on the development of a website in Joomla. The experience really became very frustrating without a method for organizing the content and understanding all the different ways and places the information might be used.

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