University of Wisconsin–Madison

Better by Design

Design is a part of the work in human resources, it happens in all types of forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of a presentation, an informational flier, and even as an email. What is more, it requires some thought about what your end goal is, who your audience is and what they want, and sometimes the process in which you create. Creating with design in mind involves much more than an aesthetics. Here are a few tips to think about the next time you create something.

  1. Design is not about making things look good, it’s about making it work for your audience.
  2. Engaging your audience early on in the process and find out what they want and need.
  3. Provide your audience time to synthesis information before asking them to participate.

Take creating a process document for example, start with asking a small subset of your audience to review and internalize information before talking about it as a group. You can send information in advance or take some time at the beginning of your focus group. By doing this, the user is able to synthesis what you have shared and consider what they know. They can then more productively assist in the design phase.

Or maybe you’re creating an email that will go out to the entire department about a new policy. During the design phase you may want to consider whether the email should have the policy written into the email, maybe it’s a link, or even a separate attachment. Asking a colleague how they would like to receive this information may help to make these decisions. Once you have created a document that works for your audience you can work on aesthetics.

I learned about these things and more at the August 19 inaugural Better by Design conference. For more information, go to

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