4 Reasons Why Document Design Is Key to a Promotion

4 Reasons Why Document Design Is Key to a Promotion

If you work in marketing or graphic design, you may already be on top of making sure your documents to the public are brand consistent.  But what about those of us who aren’t skilled marketers?  Do the documents we write for internal use also need to incorporate company design?

The short answer is: Yes.  Even if the documents you produce are technical specifications, software support instructions, or a memo on new standard operating procedures (SOP).  If someone other than you will ever read the documents, there better be design elements.

Why Add Design?

Whats the big deal, anyway?  Isn’t it the content that matters?  Well, here are four reasons why design should be an important consideration in all your internal documents (and how it can help your career down the line!)

Your Team Is People Too

You just spent hours working on a new software manual that will make your team’s lives easier – if they read it.  Weighing in at 20-pages, you call it comprehensive, but they see it as a burden. 

Now you want to avoid the inevitable: all your coworkers asking you for help instead of using the resource.

There is a reason why sales strategies focus on imagery and bold colors.  You have a product that can help people, but first they need to see it.  Good design helps grab people’s attention and can make a product both valuable and accessible.

Your coworkers are people too, and the same strategy applies.  With busy work-lives of their own, humans tend to look for the quickest solution – and that may not include reading a dry manual.

Make your document inviting by incorporating design elements such as white-space, screenshots, and color-coded sections for quick scanning.  Your team will be more likely to use it, and appreciate the work you put into the resource.

Management Doesn’t Have Time

Does this sound familiar? Your boss asked you to write up a memo on new standard operating procedures to help streamline the department. 

Like the overachiever you are, you carefully crafted a beautiful document outlining all elements of work priorities in the office and emailed it over to your boss for review.

The only problem is, a few weeks have gone by and you haven’t heard anything.  You can admit that you may not receive a trophy for MVP (Most Valuable Protocol), despite practicing your acceptance speech in the shower.  But you at least expected the memo to be released to the team for implementation.  What happened?

The truth is, when you sent the SOP back to your boss, it put the ball in their court to sell it to the department.  They may only get one chance to ask the team to follow these procedures.  Management doesn’t have time to try to convince everyone to read the document and follow the rules.  They may not even have time to *gasp* read the document itself!

Make your boss’ job easier by making them feel confident the document you created will be an easy sell to the team. 

Include the company logo and company colors so it looks official.  Then, add the name of your boss to the authorship so they feel a sense of “buy-in” on the document.

Quick Tip: How to Add Your Company Brand to Word Themes

Get Your Board On Board (if you have one)

If your organization has a board of directors, chances are they don’t necessarily see the daily ins and outs of what you do.  In fact, most boards rely heavily on the information provided to them by staff and management in order to understand the direction of the organization at a micro-level. 

Sometimes you may need to “sell” your work to a board – and approval isn’t always forthcoming.

The board’s job will be easier if you use design to demonstrate how your documents are consistent with the message they already believe in (your organization brand).  When a new piece of work comes their way, they are more likely to approve it, knowing it showcases the best interest of the organization.

Branding Makes You a Company Leader

While those technical specifications you put together did a great job showcasing your efforts, do they present you as a company leader?

Leadership at your company means considering how you live up to the values of your organization and meet company-wide goals.  From the bottom up, everyone can relate to how they improve the company – otherwise you wouldn’t have a job!

Take your tech specs, for example.  You may think your document is just an internal guide to development, but that project demonstrates leadership if you visually link it back to the company.  This lets management know you are producing with the company’s best interest in mind.

Plus, don’t be shy about bringing that up during your performance review!

How to Design “Everyday” Documents

Maybe you are thinking – this is all well and good, but how am I suppose to vamp up a boring document outlining hiring procedures?  Often the documents we use “every day”, or internal documents, can go unnoticed.  Follow these quick steps to make a big difference.

Brand the Document

You may need to check with your marketing department (sometimes referred to as “the intern”) but they will probably be more than happy to supply you with company branding guidelines. This is a document that specifies colors, fonts and the proper way to display a logo for the organization.

Quick Brand Guide

Create a custom style theme in Microsoft Office by using this branding template.

Using these guides, simply change the font and colors theme of your document so that it matches your company brand. Make your job even easier by creating a custom theme in MS Word. This step can make a world of difference.

Include Pictures

If your document contains instructions then pictures of those steps are a must.

Creating a “how-to” guide for using the new software program? Include screenshots of the steps you want people to take.

Streamlining warehouse procedures for stocking? Add photos of the locations you want to highlight so people know what to look for.

This step can be tricky with something like a departmental update, but it doesn’t mean pictures aren’t valuable.  Instead, include Smart Art (Word, Publisher) or graphs to help illustrate your point.

If you have an entire page of text, try to find a stock photo that represents the theme and add it to a corner. This simple step can help readers remember the text on the page, and it serves to break up the monotony.

Divide Your Content

Ever read an “Idiot’s Guide To…” book? Notice the call outs on the side of the page, or a box along the bottom with a tip or idea? This is a way to divide your content so it isn’t all contained in paragraph after paragraph.

Think about any asides you have mentioned. These usually start with a sentence like:

  • “On the rare occasion…”
  • “Don’t forget to…”
  • “For more details, check out…”

In these circumstances, pull the paragraph from the rest of the document, simplify the text, and add it to a call out box on the side of the page. It will get the attention it needs and help shorten the rest of the text.

Now you can create documents that help showcase the brilliant content you already spent so much time writing.  Your team will appreciate it, and so will your boss.  Keep an eye out for a promotion soon!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Posted by Amanda Parsons in Career, Tutorials, 0 comments