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Make Information Easy to Find and Easy to Understand

Updated: Sep 30, 2023


The third ingredient in the trust recipe is actually two ingredients, but they’re so interdependent that it doesn’t seem right to break them apart.


For example, you can be the best explainer in the world, gifted at breaking down complex subjects into digestible bits. But if you aren’t putting those bits where people can find them, your work makes little difference.


Similarly, if you have lots of great information available right at the fingertips of the people who want it, but it is so difficult to understand that people either misinterpret you or give up too quick, your work again makes little difference.


In both situations, you create a gap in trust with the audience you want to reach. At best, they lose interest and move on, seeking information through more accessible sources. At worst, they assume you have something to hide and start to suspect a cover-up.


So, to make sure your work counts, let’s start at the top:


Make information easy to find


When you consider what you want to communicate, also consider who you need to reach and where they spend their attention.

  • Want to reach your loyal followers? Place your information on your website and link to it in your eNewsletter and across social media accounts.

  • Need to reach a specific type of new customer or client base? Consider industry publications that they’re likely to read and pitch story ideas, draft articles to submit or buy ads that share your message.

  • Need to reach people in power, like government officials, politicians or regulators? Consider hiring advocates with clean reputations to carry your message to the right ears at the right time.

In most cases, the information needs to live somewhere on your website regardless of whether you share it in full through other venues. But websites, especially government sites, can be overwhelming graveyards of inaccessible content.


We applaud the move toward placing a search bar front-and-center on website homepages when websites grow bulky. Just make sure your search results are at least as accurate as Google's, if not more so: If your search function isn’t powerful enough to generate relevant results without being overwhelming, you’ve opened the trust gap even further.


Next up:


Make information easy to understand


This does not mean “dumbing it down.” It doesn't always mean making it shorter either, though usually that’s a good idea. Sometimes, to make information easy to understand, start at the top and tell the full story one step at a time.


Why? Because the human brain is wired for stories. We learn by establishing facts (setting, character) and running those facts through a challenge, contrast or conflict (plot) to transform the facts into understanding. If the information you need to share is particularly sensitive or requires a high level of consensus, this narrative-based approach is often your best bet.


Finally, for less-sensitive information, follow a few simple rules to keep it digestible:

  • Place the subject and verb as close together as possible in your sentences.

  • Keep your paragraphs to three sentences or less.

  • Break up complex sentences into two sentences more often than not.

  • Use lists wherever it makes sense (even in emails).

  • Embrace white space.

  • After the first draft, go back and mercilessly remove unnecessary information, filler words and jargon.

  • When in doubt, you can even run your draft through a Readability Checker like this one: https://readabilityformulas.com/free-readability-formula-tests.php


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Need help finding the best way to communicate a challenging subject or situation? Want guidance on how best to catch your audience’s attention? Karapace helps clients put into words difficult or sensitive information to build understanding and trust across their communities. Contact us at the form below.


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