Reading – part 2.

In my last post I was writing about literacy and readability. Now I'd like to talk about how people read. Here are some facts about it that you may find interesting. I read about them in Susan M. Weinschenk's book, the "100 Things, Every Designer Needs to Know About People" and now I show them to you along with my thoughts.

Reading is not a fluid thing

Our eyes don't move across the page as smoothly as it seems. We make quick jumps between group of letters, and we rest our eyes on fixation points continuously. During the jumping periods we don't see what's in front of our eyes, but it happens so fast that we don't realize this. Most of the time we look forward (assuming we're reading left to right), but in 10–15 percent of the time we revisit previous letters and words to reinforce the meaning we got.

We use our peripheral vision while reading

We read 7–9 letters between the fixation points our eyes rest on, but we perceive about 15 letters ahead. We only get the meaning of about the first 7 letters and we don't pick up the semantic cues of the upcoming ones despite the fact that we recognize them.

Reading and understanding don't go hand in hand

If you're reading an article about a specific topic, but you're not familiar with the jargon that particular profession/group uses, chances are...

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Reading – part 1.

Today I'm writing about reading. After all we (at least the majority of us) read all the time. Think through your day. You wake up and you read the time. Then you unconsciously read the letters on your toothpaste. On your cereal box. In the newspaper or on your phone (unconsciously before your morning coffee). On the way to work. At work. Everywhere. All day long. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the time when I didn't care about reading or writing. Then I realize it was too long ago. I read since I was four. Children are curious. Even though I couldn't read before that age, I always tried to understand the written words. Sometimes I only knew the first letter, then I would complete the rest in my mind. That's how "Parable" became...

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R as in reasearch

Research is an important step during your preparation. Even though you're probably here because you want to know more about design, I dare to say that without research your presentation design won't work. Research takes time. A lot of time. Until now I didn't emphasize the importance of it, but here I should.

Whenever you are creating a presentation, start it well ahead of time, so that you'll have everything done by the big day. This is something I always had problem with, because a too long preparation period can cause spending my time wandering around too much, doing unimportant things, while the more difficult tasks are on hold. I know it's not only my problem: Zach Holman says: "Talk preparation will expand to fill all available time". So this is where the thinking and agenda part comes in handy. If you have a great base, you can see clearly what needs to be done. You can create a timeline, it depends on your personality if it helps you or not. A too detailed one can be distracting and superfluous, because you have to adjust every step all the time. I prefer my agenda without a clear timeline, but that's because...

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When I decided to take on this self-initiated challenge, I didn't take one thing into consideration, and I also made a mistake. The one thing was the summer holiday. During this period everything goes upside-down in our life, and the schedule is less than ideal for such a tight commitment. It then resulted in a small amount of frustration on my side, because I also forgot to apply one of my main rules: to be only 80% perfectionist. This happens when your inner self is a perfectionist by nature. I still have to practice lowering the bar just a little bit, so I can jump over it most of the time. I already managed to stop being scared of trying: and that's step one. And because of this accomplishment I have to be proud of myself.

With all of this is my mind I'm changing the "rules" of my challenge. In this short period I had a chance to see how it works, and now I'm ready to adjust. My perfectionist brain would call it a failure. My 80% percent perfectionist brain calls it an accomplishment. And that little difference makes me moving forward. I won't aim for one blog post a day, because I've learnt that this is something even experienced people (with no kids) are struggling with. One article a week with valuable content will be just as good, and if I manage to do more: be it, I'll be even happier. I also move my weekly email delivery time from Sunday to Wednesday. When Sunday sounded like a good deal in the beginning, it turned out, that I'm quite busy on the weekends. Even if I write the email ahead, the pressure of posting it in time is contaminating my feelings towards Sundays. And that's not what I want. Weekends are for my family, and I'm going to respect that time, no matter what. So, Wednesday Weekly it is from now.

The way it changes the challenge only appears in numbers, but it will result in better quality overall. That's a good deal. I always wanted this place to be invaluable. In the upcoming weeks I'll work on some posts that are direct answers to your questions you've sent me by now, along with the detailed TARGET method articles. I'm thrilled to solve real problems, and that's why your questions are always welcome.