Let’s cut out the jargon to get more of us on board

There were a couple of instances last week where design could have lost out through a ‘language’ difference between our community and other sectors.

At the inaugural ‘board’ meeting of sustainability activist Three Trees Don’t Make a Forest, British Standards Institute terminology was cited as a reason why consultancies don’t generally subscribe to the BS 8900 series, which would badge them as compliant with various environmental standards.

While the design element in the room mooted the possibility of a new accreditation system for consultancies, printers round the table suggested the existing BS 8900 would fit the purpose well. The upshot was agreement that design cannot be regulated as easily as an industrial process, but language was cited by the designers present as a reason why BS 8900 wouldn’t do the trick, even if design could be shoe-horned into the regulatory system. The sentiments of BS 8900 are fine, but the wordage is unintelligible to most of us in design.

Meanwhile, over at the Design Museum the Technology Strategy Board convened with little or no design representation. But the language used at that meeting would have left non-technologists boggling. A glossary of terms might have proved handy.

The same is true when educationalists or computer geeks meet the creative community, when lawyers are in any room or even when consultancies deal with fmcg clients. While many designers have adopted the language of marketers to communicate in pitches and on projects, how much better might it be if all shared a simple common language?

It isn’t that designers are stupid. Far from it, and in many respects, design holds the key. Designers excel at visual communication and could help evolve a system that cuts through the jargon to works across business categories – take the pictograms of Otl Aicher that cross international boundaries. How might this work across business sectors? We’d love to hear your views.

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