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Designing Persuasive Documents – Carrie Gilbert

Date: March 7, 2007
Speaker: 
Carrie Gilbert — White Horse

As HCI practitioners, we may not always align ourselves with the role of Salesperson. But many of us are increasingly being asked to do just that. We are in the business of selling ideas, whether we are encouraging senior management to sponsor a new initiative, or convincing clients of the merits of a design solution. And knowingly or otherwise, the documents we produce every day—from product specifications to wireframes to routine e-mails—serve as our sales pitch. How can we make sure that these documents are communicating effectively, prompting the desired response from their audience, and, ultimately, successfully selling our ideas?

Designers have long been aware of the fact that polished, near-final designs evoke very different responses than quickly-rendered, rough sketches. Anyone who has ever used a “too-finished” picture to illustrate an idea still in its infancy, only to receive feedback about color and font choices, knows how frustrating it can be when people are unable to move past specific details to comment on the overall concept. In the world of HCI, this phenomenon is often referred to in terms of fidelity: lower-fidelity prototypes are used early in the design process to validate general ideas and approaches; higher-fidelity prototypes are introduced later on to better represent the final product’s form and functionality.

Carrie will discuss document design within this model of high- and low-fidelity prototyping, using what our field already knows about product design to explore how the fidelity of every-day documents may affect how effectively they promote acceptance and buy-in from their audience.

About the Speaker
Carrie Gilbert has devoted her 10-year career to making online tools and information easier to use and understand. She currently works at Portland-based agency White Horse, where she heads up the User Experience team and works with clients such as Columbia Sportswear, Knowledge Learning Corporation, and Nautilus.

Prior to joining White Horse, Carrie had the opportunity to work at Fortune 500 companies such as Silicon Graphics, Cisco Systems, and Gemstar. She holds an M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a B.A. in Digital Art from San Jose State University. She has published two peer-reviewed journal articles on technical communication and is an active member of the CHIFOO (Computer-Human Interaction Forum of Oregon) Executive Council.

Presentation Files
Download program slides and notes (392 KB .zip)

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