29 March 2006

Forms and function, design in the public sector [Design Council]

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putting people first
by experientia

Forms and Function
Public sector organisations could save themselves millions every year, as well as sparing their public unnecessary confusion and stress, if they used good information design. Sector specialist Andrew Boag explains how clear forms, letters and bills produce clear benefits all round.

Imagine, if you can, that your child has been diagnosed with cancer. Among the many things you’d need at such a traumatic time would be help to cope with new and immediate demands on the family budget. But the last thing you’d need would be a repetitive and unnecessarily intrusive 40-page form intended to deal with a host of different conditions, not just your child’s.

Sadly, though, that is what you’d have to fill in if you wanted to claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA). To make matters worse, you wouldn’t be eligible to claim until three months after diagnosis and, because of the complexities of the system, your claim would take many more weeks to process.

This is just one, albeit extreme, example of communication between the public sector and its public that could be improved through information design.

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