Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bridging the Gap Between Urban Planning and the Community

As many of you know, I am studying Urban Planning at the University of Utah; and am taking several classes that are helping me become a better future planner. One of those classes is Visual, Oral, and Written Communications. In that class we have been studying the principles and etiquette of communication in those three areas. This isn't, however, my first communications course or my first opportunity for experience or practice in it. One could say I have been studying these topics my entire life. Although that study hasn't been intensive until the last 12 years.

I would like to share a few points that I have learned in my class, and in life that will better help us bridge the gap between urban planners and the community which they serve:

Visual Communication Tips:
  • The use of color can be extremely powerful. Keep in mind the colors you use can signify other meanings.
  • Typography is often overlooked but can do loads to convey a message. Make sure it is legible. 
  • Layouts, spacing/boarders, and use of white space are crucial in establishing interest and understanding. The layout should guide the audience through the information. Create your layout to funnel your audience to the most important points. Spacing and boarders make designs easy to follow and create comfort in the audience instead of the unrealized discomfort from poor spacing and use of boarders. White space is almost as important as the content of the page. Don't overload your audience.
  • Simplicity is always best. Does your design pass the 10 second rule? If not what are you trying to get your audience to understand or do? What is the bare minimum information needed to achieve that goal? Then you can add pieces to that, to support your message. 
Oral Communication Tips:
  • Be clear and concise and vary your tone - keep the message simple and entertaining.
  • Speak with confidence - if you are confident you naturally build credibility.
  • Be aware of non-verbal communication - non-verbal communication is often picked up a lot sooner than tone and the actual message.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What are they thinking, what are their backgrounds and values, and how can you sync your message and goals to their goals and values?

Written Communication Tips:
  • Write the way you would speak, don't add unnecessary extras.
  • Write to your audience. This means the words selected, level of education, and values
  • Focus on the positive and use the active voice instead of passive
  • Avoid idioms and cliches and write what you really mean in your own words.
These tips aren't everything but will give you a great start in communicating with your audience.

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I just wanted to take a moment to send a personal message out to all those in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Horticulture, and Urban Planning/Urban Ecology. I created Landscape Connections for the purpose to share my love and passion for Landscape Architecture and Design, and Urban Ecology. I was a Landscape Architecture Major at Utah State University and currently study Urban Ecology at the University of Utah. I am working to compile as much information in the four previously mentioned fields as possible. If you have any further information, or would like to either add information or see information posted to landscape connections please let me know.