Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You can read it, but can you understand it?

A public Planning document should be understandable by members of the community, period. 

This was one of the three primary principles (livability, sustainability, readability) that guided my writing of the Town of Collingwood’s Urban Design Manual.  In this work it was also critical that the UDM not sacrifice the meaning of technical aspects.  

Attention to the “information design” of the UDM was considered critical prior to its publication and adoption by Town Council not only because it improves access/understanding of information; but, by creating a regulatory document that is easily understood by the public it has the real potential to further Municipal and Planning goals of accountability and community participation for the long term. 

The UDM is laid out to facilitate easy navigation of the sections, and structured to communicate the interconnected nature of its provisions.  The layout of the individual pages include a number of specific design elements to facilitate readability, including: colour coding of sections; section specific page numbering; clear page layouts separating regulation text from examples; green “guide” markers indicating other Sections that are closely related to the current page’s content; and, extensive use of illustrations and photographs showing positive examples relating to the regulations.
A PDF copy of the adopted UDM is available HERE (current copy available HERE).

Take a look, and let me know how successful you think the UDM is in being understandable by non-professional members of the community; as well as, other examples you would like to highlight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I give these UDM a 75/100. Attempting simple speech? Check. A style that looks hand drawn to entice non-planenrs? Check. An organization structure that breaks things down into digestible terms the public can understand? Mostly check. I do wish the layout of these UDM included more than the title of each page in large font, since most people don't read (they skim) it would be useful to see the most important element of the page stand out more. Eh, Design guidelines are tough to simplify because of their technical nature. I'm curious what YOU think.