“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci

And so, this week leads me to my final blog post on the iterative process of design. I’ve spent this past few months discussing and investigating design principles and working through an iterative process on developing a final publication. This four-part blog series has ignited something within me that I was not aware I had. I have never perceived myself to be creative, or artistic, but what I have learned throughout this process is that I don’t have to be a great artist or have a creative streak to be great at design. So, let’s get into this week’s design principles, Ockhams Razor and Performance versus Preference.

You might be thinking, who on earth is Ockham. Ockhams razor, also known as law of simplicity, refers to the preference for simplicity over complexity (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2010). In considering the final publication that I am working towards, this principle informs me that unnecessary cognitive and visual weight impairs performance, and that I should aim to be clear and to the point with my written content whilst utilising a minimalistic creative approach to visuals.

Lidwell et al (2010) states, ‘what helps people perform well and what people like are usually not the same thing’. Bringing us to the design principle of performance versus preference. The reason people prefer one design to another is based on many factors that may have absolutely nothing to do with performance. Let’s look at a couple of different presentation software programs and discuss how they relate to preference and performance.


Prezi is used widely by students, but personally I do not like using this software. I find the software to be difficult to use and content heavy.



One word = simplistic in use and in aesthetic appearance


Canva Presentation

Canva is one of my newest found loves. This software is user friendly, it’s basic, simple, looks fantastic and improves the overall appearance and output of my presentations. I recently utilise this software for a media studies presentation and the feedback from the audience was 100% positive.


For my final publication, I will be creating a presentation using Canva to maximise on the valuable balance of preference and performance. This process has been challenging, but also educational. I began with a simple idea of building a weblog that details the value of design in public relations, however after further consideration and through understanding of iteration and design principles, I have begun to realise, a simple weblog would not reach my intended audience and have the affect I am aiming for as a professional within the field. Below is a final sneak peak of the current direction of my publication.


As public relations professionals, we must consider the elements that go beyond the written content.


Lidwell, W., Holden. K., Butler., J. 2010. Universal Principles of Design, Rockport Publishers, Beverly Masschusetts.



Readability and Legibility – The value of design in Public Relations

“Good prose is like a window pane”. George Orwell, 20th Century author and essayist

Over the past couple of months, I have been delving into the value of design in the public relations profession. We have looked at several design principles which can take your PR professional development to the next level, who knows maybe even through to executive level. This week, I want to discuss with you two design principles which I feel are of importance when producing any written form of PR; readability and legibility.

When analysing the readability of a piece of writing, you will consider the complexity of words and sentences which have a direct influence on prose. Let’s face it, as PR professionals we usually want to deliver messages to far-reaching publics. As Klare (1963) states, “readable writing is necessary and significant for the reader’s sake.” Level of readability has a direct role for a writer for mass media, as they must attempt to reach audiences of lower education levels to broaden the scope of readership (Klare, 1963).

Over time, several tools have been developed to assess readability level. Below is a case study example of a readability assessment using the SMOG formula.

SMOG Grading:

1.    Count 10 consecutive sentences near the beginning of the text to be assessed, 10 in the middle and 10 near the end.

2.    In the 30 selected sentences count every word of three or more syllables.

3.    Estimate the square root of the number of polysyllabic words counted.

4.    Add 3 to the approximate square root

(Mc Laughlin, 1969)

The case study focuses on a PRIA blog, “a crisis of meaningfulness”. You can access this blog by clicking on the link below.

After careful analysis of 30 sentences within “A Crisis of Meaningfulness”, it was determined that there are 82 words of three or more syllables. If we utilise the SMOG grading formula, we would round this to the nearest perfect square, so that we can establish the square root of the polysyllabic words. For this case study the square root of the polysyllabic words is nine (9). The SMOG grade of this text is 12, which determines that a reader would need a minimum of a senior school education to fully understand the text.

As professionals exploring the world of design, we are faced with modern desktop publishing, online publishing, and web-based graphic design tools such as Canva. Whilst these tools are valuable in one way or another, they add confusion with the increasing font and layout capabilities on offer (Holden, 2010). The legibility of the text we produce as professionals within the PR field is imperative if we want to succeed and be recognised.

The following points offer guidance concerning text legibility:

·         Size – optimal font size for print is 9- to 12-point type

·         Typeface – based on aesthetic appearance (sans or sans serif)

·         Contrast – contrast levels which exceed 70% optimise performance

·         Text Blocks – based on aesthetic appearance (justified or unjustified)

·         Spacing – proportionally or monospaced typeface is preferential

(Holden, 2010).

As I continue to consider my final publication on the value of design in public relations, I make note of the importance of consistency across all aspects of my publication when it comes to readability and legibility. As my publication is going to consist of three different publications (a blog post, a workshop registration, and workshop presentation) consistency across all three aspects will be key to ensuring my audience is engaged and finds engaging in my work pleasurable.

Current state of play on my final publication:



Holden, K. 2010. Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated, Rockport Publishers. Available: ProQuest Ebook Central (accessed 5 January 2017).

Klare, G. R. 1963. The Measurement of Readability. ACM Journal of Computer Documentation, 24(3), August 2000, 107-121.

McLaughlin, G. H. 1969. SMOG Grading – a new readability formula. Journal of Reading, 639-646.

White, G. 2017. A Crisis of Meaningfulness, weblog. Available:


“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein

As I continue down the iterative path of design in social media for public relations, I have been considering which design principles are relevant to infographics, and how they can be an added opportunity.

In my final publication on the value of design in social media for public relations, I will incorporate an infographic (image below) which aims to outline some of the design principles covered in this four part series of blog posts. I have applied four principles of good design; consistency, simplicity, understandable, and useful. The design is:

  • Simple – not cluttered with complex information,
  • Consistent – in use of paired background and text colours,
  • Consistent – in size, style and positioning of heading and paragraph text,
  • Useful – complex information is presented in an easily digestible form,
  • Understandable – headings clearly establish subject


My infographic utilises consistent bold headings which act as a point of prospect, allowing the reader to quickly scan the information available and review opportunities for interaction. Murdoch University’s ‘Pets in Summer Series: Snakebites in Family Pets’, is an example of how classical conditioning and entry point principles of design, can be incorporated into an infographic. The colour red has been utilised to elicit a reaction of danger, while the amber colour utilised elicits a cautious response. These two colours are an example of classical conditioning. This infographic features red and yellow colours as the solid colour for images and signs throughout the publication. It effectively associates the physical response of danger and caution evoked by the association with road signs. We are repeatedly exposed to stop signs and orange lights in our daily interactions to the extent that we have learned to associate the colour red with the action of stopping and the colour amber to proceed with caution. The bold underlined headings act as a point of prospect, letting readers quickly scan for points of interest with no conflicting barriers. The Murdoch University infographic effectively utilises design principles as an added opportunity to create a publication that communicates complex information in an eye-catching understandable manner.


(Daily Infographic, 2013)


Lidwell, w., Holden. K., Butler., J. 2010. Universal Principles of Design, Rockport Publishers, Beverly Masschusetts.

Daily Infographic. Pets in Summer Series: Snakebites in Family Pets. Available <;


Designing Social Media Public Relations – part 1

“Design adds value faster than it adds cost” – Joel Spolsky

Initially I thought to myself, how on earth can design add value to public relations? As public relations professionals, writing is a massive portion of our role. We create strategic PR plans and then we write, and we write….. and we write some more, we shape and guide messages to target publics through writing. So, you ask, where does design fit into writing media releases, fact sheets, positioning statements, blog posts or tweets?

To be great public relations professionals we need to consider elements that go beyond just the written content of our publications. Incorporating design principles into any publication is an added opportunity to help guide and shape the message being delivered to the public.

So, I thought I would share some of the important design principles you can use to take your social media PR publications to the next level.

Hierarchy of needs:

When designing a publication, it is important to first establish who the target publics are. We can then begin to look at how we can utilise the hierarchy of needs (functionality, reliability, usability, proficiency and creativity) in establishing a successful design.

  • Functionality – communicate what the PR message is,
  • Reliability – when utilising different social media platforms, ensure all information remains consistent,
  • Usability – provide adequate information relevant to the target public,
  • Proficiency and Creativity should be considered and will often involve the use of framing

(Lidwell, Holden, Butler. 2010, p. 124)


A word all too familiar to public relations professionals. Framing is the manipulation of the target publics thoughts and feelings. Publications can be framed to elicit either negative or positive thoughts and feelings by manipulating words, images and context (Lidwell, Holden, Butler. 2010, p. 108). Public relations publications on social media platforms can be either positively or negatively framed depending on the message being delivered.


Aesthetic consistency is the consistency of style and appearance; this enhances brand/company recognition and provides an overall higher level of perceived professionalism (Lidwell, Holden, Butler. 2010, p. 56). Consistency in style and appearance should be utilised across all social media platform publications. For example, remain consistent in the use of font styles, sizes and images for certain messages.

Functional consistency speaks its meaning and refers to exactly that, consistency in the function of the design (Lidwell, Holden, Butler. 2010, p. 56). Functional consistency should be utilised within each social media platform to ensure maximum usability.



(Twitter, 2016)

Let’s look at the above image of a Tweet published by Broadspectrum earlier this month:

The publication is positively framed, provoking emotional and cognitive responses by using the word ‘donates’ and through the use of images containing recognised and respected personnel. The publication addresses lower-order needs of functionality, reliability and usability. The company logo is used for aesthetic consistency. While providing adequate information to communicate the appropriate message within just 21 words address the three lower-order needs.

Now lets take a quick look at the current state of my blog publication on the value of design in the use of social media for public relations professionals.



So far the design principles utilised in creating the form of my blog publication are framing, functional consistency and the lowest level need, functionality. Positive framing was utilised when creating the working title, by using the word ‘opportunity. Functional consistency was considered and adopted through using the same blog layout as previous blogs and the lowest level need of functionality has been addressed through effectively communicating the message to target publics in the title of the blog.




Lidwell, w., Holden. K., Butler., J. 2010. Universal Principles of Design, Rockport Publishers, Beverly Masschusetts. Broadspectrum. Available: