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International Plain Language Day (IPLD) October 13, 2011 is gaining global support from plain language professionals in Sweden, the UK, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, India, and Africa.Events and contests are being planned in various localities.

So far, we know of these plans for IPLD:

In South Africa, a social media meme for the worst example of gobbledygook.

In Calgary Alberta Canada, a petition campaign on City Hall steps to have IPLD declared by the city for 2012.

In Atlanta Georgia, another contest for an example of the worst government writing.

In Ottawa Canada, a celebratory luncheon.

In Washington DC, a workshop for government writers.

“The movement for plain language is really growing. For example, LinkedIn’s Plain Language Advocates Group I host is nearing 800 international members.” said Cheryl Stephens, a leader in the movement and an expert in plain legal language, “From October 13, U.S. government materials written for the public must be in plain language.We’ve chosen this date to celebrate hard-won achievements in many countries who are making materials understandable and usable.”

“Plain Language” is the design of clear information focused on the reader, to fit the reader’s information needs and reading abilities.

“Cheryl Stephens and I started the international plain language network and conferencing in the early 90s using only email and web pages,” said Kate Harrison Whiteside, a social media and plain language consultant. “For IPLD we are using all the social technology available to get world-wide support for this important day.”

The health, legal, government, banking, social, education and business sectors around the world are all making progress in recognizing the need and the demand for plain language, and putting it on their agendas.

“We need to keep raising the demand for plain language from the public,” said Stephens. “Plain language is now recognized world-wide; the next step is to have it integrated into all communication training and delivery. The importance of communicating clearly to our audience is ever greater.”

On October 13, 2011, people and organizations will be hosting events online, in offices, and on the streets to mark their support for putting readers first in communication by using plain language.

Contacts

Cheryl Stephens, plainlanguage.com

email@cherylstephens.com 1-604- 802-9606

Kate Harrison Whiteside, keyadvice.net

kate@keyadvice.net 1-587-896-5377

International Plain Language Day Links 

IPLD Facebook Page

Twitter – #iplday

LinkedIn – Plain Language Advocates – IPLD

 


Plain Language on websites, apps, platforms is all about usability. The Plain Language movement – which has been active around the globe for some time now – traditionally focused on the print medium. But, over the last few years a number of resources have popped up that target online communications. Here are three articles and three links to help you successfully integrate plain language into your online projects.

The web technology has moved on from websites to apps and mobile platforms. ClickZ recently ran an article by Melinda Krueger – ‘Jakob Nielsen on Usability for Mobile Sites and Apps. Nielsen said the technology must be easy to touch and manipulate – as users are most often multi-tasking. And, short is not good enough – content must be ‘ultra-short’. Melinda’s article is a good overview, and a good place to build a plain language web assessment plan from.

If you are starting out on a website, or want to see if yours meets plain language guidelines, take a look at the PlainLanguage.gov site’s Planning a Plain Language Website section. They demonstrate what they recommend – so you can have a textual and a visual guide.

On the Results for Canadians blog, Laura’s recent article ‘Measuring plain language on the web’ highlights important aspects, and provides excellent links. Yes, it’s all about  users being able to ‘find, understand and act’ when on a website, but she recommends testing for ‘findability’ as well as usability.

A Google search for plain language on the Web turned up a few resources, with many published before 2,000. Let’s get website plain language back on the table. We need to move faster to keep up with technology.

Key Resources

Book: Plain Language Websites, Plain Language Wizardry.

LinkedIn Plain Language Advocates Group – discussing the creation of Plain Language Day.

PLAIN – Plain Language Association INternational

The LinkedIn Marketers on Twitter group was presented with the question ‘Twitter, Waste of Time?’ by Col. Laird John B. Cutty Kt, and they have responded in the hundreds. The replies are themselves a valuable source of research into one of the hottest social media platforms to hit the Internet. Here are some key views – and feel free to comment with your feedback!

Here is a random sample of excerpts from the over 200 (and I received at least three email notifications of more comments on this topic while writing this) posts:

‘If you are very focused, have clear goals and strategies then it can be a powerful way to communicate, reach strangers, influence and network’. Richard Derwent Cook, consultant.

‘It is a great tool that is not being used well. It is a tool that joined with others makes a very good and cheap marketing solution’. Fernando Bergamaschi, photographer.

‘Twitter can be very relevant for a small business, especially if you are short on “traditional” marketing dollars’. Brian Murphy, marketing exec.

‘I cannot say that Twitter is “Valuable” in my business. I apply two metrics; (a) the amount of new business provided and (b) the amount of useful information provided…Linked In has been far more useful’. Paul W. Reidl, lawyer.

‘It depends on a variety of factors- type of business, location and target’. Bhaskar Sarma, green energy practitioner.

‘As a fortune teller, I began tweeting topics that my clients were asking about while maintaining their anonymity. That drove more purchases by potential clients whose questions were similar’. Alexandra Chauran, Fortune Teller.

‘…but in 4 months, the amount of direct revenue attributable directly to Twitter has surprised all the sceptics in my business’. Anthony L, hotel manager, @fallowfieldsuk (His post included a list of 10 ways they use Twitter).

‘Twitter can be of great value for your business. Provided that your target-audience is on Twitter’. Rob V, RUI analyst

There were also many who agreed with Frank Feather, that it was a waste of time.

From my experience:

1. You get out of Twitter, what you put into it.

2. Twitter is most successful when integrated into your marketing strategy.

3. You need to apply basic marketing – target the message to a target audience.

For me Twitter pays in dividends, providing a living, breathing network of expert advice, that I could not (due to time and resources) find on my own. I also think if it is to be used to its full potential, it needs to be managed by something like TweetDeck or Hootsuite, so you keep on top of it. And, in TweetDeck, don’t forget to use the favourites link to keep the really important ones.

Do you have any opinions, examples or tips you want to share? Please comment.



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