Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Information packet: Aesthetics and you

I have a friend who dabbled in web development for a while; he was a good programmer, and skilled with understanding the workings of a website. He couldn'r really understand why he wasn't bringing in  new business hand-over-fist.

Part of the problem: my friend didn't have much of an aesthetic sense. He didn't really care how things looked-- he only cared if they worked. In his view, if a website communicated the information it needed to, then it was a good website.

The rest of the problem: the Internet is now oh, what, about 90% visual? Studies show that most people decide whether they will continue to read a website in 2-5 seconds! Obviously that's not long enough to read anything; this decision is made on aesthetics alone.

My suspicion is that many Pastoral candidates view their information packet in the same way my friend viewed his web development: as long as the information is there, it's good enough. Why bother with further editing or tweaking?

That's hyperbole, of course-- most will do some formatting or layout adjustment. But I haven't seen many resumes, for example, that visually stand out from others-- yet I think we are getting to the point where the information we provide must have such "stand-out" potential to get the attention needed.

This may be a simple adjustment-- I recently added photos of myself and my family to the brief biography I send out (more on this in a future post). Or it may be a substantial shift: I met a guy who had formatted his entire information packet-- from cover letter to resume to bio to references-- into a newsletter-style presentation, printed on 11x17 paper, folded, and stapled.

There are some documents where the aesthetic design is not our choice-- as in the Data Form-- but even here we can get creative. The fellow who designed a newsletter-style packet tucked his Data Form in the middle, and the folded sheets made a nice case for it.

We're overlooking a major part of the way that people communicate today if we ignore visual communication-- and that means a pleasant, well-designed presentation, if we hope to gain favor as candidates.

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