Once I had to edit a report on The Drainage System of Upper Hutt. To my surprise, after a while it became interesting. Then it struck me: no document is intrinsically or necessarily boring, because whatever the topic, it's all about people. People build houses and roads on hills and swamps, people jostle for power on boards, people decide how to spend other people's money, people convince other people that Plan X is better than Plan B.
And if we are blessed with the opportunity to write or edit a report on The Drainage System of Upper Hutt, our challenge is to find the story behind the facts, spot what's critical, and get the message across to... people.
All truly boring reports and web pages are not boring because of the topic. They are boring because the writer just went through the motions. An interesting report or web page gives equal attention to the topic and the reader .
I'm thinking about this as my students choose a small, not-for-profit web site as the basis for their next three assignments. I bet most of them think their choice is utterly crucial. I bet they think if they choose badly, they will do badly. And that's not true.
They don't need to revamp the whole site: they just need to write three new pages. It's all hypothetical. And it's all about people. Of course, it's nice to pick a site with personal interest. But in their real lives as information designers, few jobs they do will seem interesting at first. And the more you give, the more you get.
Image from www.excellcorp.co.nz