When I grew up I had four besties. Together we were just like Blyton’s Famous Five. Sure, we didn’t roam the countryside solving mysteries and capturing villains. Golly gosh no! But we did freely roam our cul-de-sac for hours enjoying jolly adventures — at least until dinner time.
After university, we all dispersed into very different jobs — one into journalism, one into strategic planning, one into advertising, one into corporate comms, and I moved from solicitor to information designer.
But in the last five years or so, something funny has happened: all our job descriptions are starting to look the same. Disciplines are merging. My friends and I are doing similar tasks and use the same skillsets.
It takes two to communicate! How do you work with people whose communications are incomprehensible? Maybe they send you cryptic emails ... smother you with gobbledegook ... expect you to read their minds ... give you mixed messages ... confuse opinion with fact ...
Business writing has changed into something unrecognisable: content. The ironic book title Write me a web page, Elsie! reflects a 20th century viewpoint and a world that has gone forever.
The manager who says, Write me a web page, Elsie! has no concept of the nature of the internet. As content strategy, Write me a web page is disastrous. It generates ROT, it undermines information architecture, it ignores accessibility, it stomps on customer service.
A few years ago I went to a terrific seminar on cross-cultural communication. I was shocked to discover that only a few of the audience were from the business world. Why's that shocking? Because the topic is relevant to every web site—not just those for EFL teachers, ESL and ESOL teachers, refugees and immigrants.