What is “Communicating Complexity”?

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What is “Communicating Complexity”?
CommunicatingComplexity.com
Guide #
1
What complex
looks like
We talk a lot about complexity at LCubed.
Most of clients – be they commercial
groups, R&D groups or government
research organisations – deal in
complex topics. They are often the
result of extensive R&D or IP creation
projects. Our job is to help them clearly
and successfully communicate this
information to their target audiences
using the internet.
So what is it that actually makes a website
project complex? Here are some of the
contributing factors that we commonly
encounter...
Quantity:
It is common for research projects to consist of very large amounts of information - hypotheses, analysis, outcomes,
recommendations, instructions etc. Often, the more information there is to communicate, the more challenging the
website build and the harder it can be to engage audiences.
Yes, websites can in theory hold a huge quantity of pages; but the key is to present this information in a way that is
understandable and accessible.
Getting the right site architecture – logical navigation structures, intuitive functionality – as well as using diagrams,
imagery and rich media (such as video or audio) can help present large amounts of information in an effective and
engaging way.
Want to find out more?
Visit lcubed.com.au or call a member of the team 1300 LCUBED (1300 528 233)
Interconnectedness:
Presenting a small number of distinct pieces of information on a website is fairy straightforward. But when the content
is interconnected in some way, it becomes more difficult. What information should the user read first? Do they need to
understand everything and, if not, what are the most important parts? What is the ideal order in which the information
should be consumed; or are there multiple relevant pathways depending on the type of user?
Spending time getting navigation and functionality right can help present interconnected information logically. In
addition, interactive (question lead) tools can be used to point users to the specific information that is relevant to
them, in an appropriate order. Often framed as a quiz or a questionnaire, decision support tools can ask users to input
information about their particular situation and provide recommended actions, or set of actions, based on those inputs.
Encouraging action or making a decision:
Websites are usually more complex when the objective is to prompt a decision or change in behaviour. The content
contained on the websites we work on is often the result of years of research by many people that has led to many
specific conclusions or recommendations.
The task of these websites then, is to encourage the target audience to act on those conclusions without the visitor
needing to wade through the entire research project documentation themselves.
Decision support tools can assist in enticing a user to take action. In addition, encouraging competition amongst
users – for example by publishing state-by-state results – as well as sharing of results and information (through social
networks for example) - can also help.
Multiple audiences:
The more different types of audiences a website has, the more complex the communications task becomes because
we are generally dealing with (for example) a single homepage. Different information, or often different views of the
same information, must be presented clearly and separately so each audience can easily find what is relevant to them.
In some cases, it can be detrimental if audience groups are actively aware of each other. For example, a private
retirement village has two very distinct audiences: potential residents and potential investors. The communications
aimed at these two groups will be very different and potential residents may be affronted by content referring to
investment returns and yields.
The size of the project team:
Often when extensive research has been undertaken, there are a lot of people that must be (or at least, want to be)
involved with the website project, to ensure that the information is presented appropriately. While it is important to have
a wide range of input, this needs to be balanced against the extra time and complexity required to incorporate multiple
viewpoints.
Engaging the right people at the right time with the right level or preparedness is essential to keeping projects on track,
and this can be quite an art form.
The complexity of the topic:
Obviously, how complex the topic is in and of itself will influence how difficult it is to successfully communicate online.
Conveying the intricacies of rocket science is going to be more challenging than discussing different flavours of potato
chips.
Often the outcomes of R&D projects are not simple products; they can be frameworks for decisions, process descriptions
or even predictions. Communicating these in a way that is accessible takes time, effort and expertise.
Want to find out more?
Visit lcubed.com.au or call a member of the team 1300 LCUBED (1300 528 233)