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Brilliant new guidance on unfair contract terms

24 October, 2016 at 4:28 pm, by

Full marks to the Competition and Markets Authority for a great new initiative to help businesses understand the Consumer Rights Act 2015. They found through a survey that fewer than half of businesses understood their obligations, so now they’ve produced some clear guides about the key issues, including videos which you can view on YouTube.



Design of Understanding is back

27 September, 2016 at 10:43 am, by


It’s great to see the Design of Understanding conference is back. Organised by Max Gadney of the design agency After the Flood, these days were hugely inspiring when he ran them at the St Bride Institute in London each January. This one is on health design, on 29 November 2016 at the Google Campus in London. And it’s free of charge. You can book on Eventbrite.

Out of sight, out of mind: the digital weak spot

26 July, 2016 at 3:23 pm, by

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 14.10.34

Last year the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) scrapped the paper tax discs we used to display in our car windscreens. Now these have been scrapped, on the grounds that enforcers can look up online to see if a car is taxed.

But according to the Financial Times (see picture) the lack of a physical presence is having a serious impact on compliance. Some of this may be because people think it’s easier to dodge the tax. But I’d be surprised if it wasn’t also because the lack of a physical reminder makes it easier to forget to renew. Although the DVLA sends out reminders when the payment is due, in past years I have found this to be unreliable. When I read the story I went online to check if my car was taxed. It would have been easier had I been able to just step outside and take a look.

The permanent physical presence of paper – glancable, archivable, markable – is easily forgotten in the rush to a digital future. If ‘glancable’ is not a real word, then it should be – it’s why we put sticky notes on the fridge or write to-do lists. These things give abstract ideas, like our future tasks and commitments, a concrete presence in the room with us.

Calling all Simplifiers! Let’s fix planning notices

6 May, 2016 at 11:22 am, by
We all walk past them every day, stuck on lamp posts or tied to trees. They’re usually telling you that something important is happening in your neighbourhood – that house over there is having a big extension, the parking permits are changing, a bus stop is going up, Crossrail want to knock down your house…
They’re important messages. There’s often things you’re meant to do: consent, object, register and interest. And all of this is invariably hidden under a slab of legal/engineering/bureaucratic gibberish.
We thought it was time for a Simplification Centre Action Day to look at this. It’ll be led by two people who independently suggested it to us: Pat Kahn and Nick Parker.
We’ll meet at the Victoria Charity Centre, 11 Belgrave Road, London SW1V 1RB, on Wednesday 8 June at 10am. We’ve set up an Eventbrite page so you can let us know if you’re coming (and we can buy enough croissants).
By way of preparation, have a look at Candy Chang’s wonderful design for communities:

That Sainsbury’s voucher: results of our challenge

6 May, 2016 at 10:42 am, by

We had two good responses to the small print challenge. Nick’s was so quick and so good that (I’m told by at least one potential responder) it didn’t look beatable.

Steve Hart had a good go, and showed his workings – yellow is useful for the customer, green possibly useful, and blue is just legal and could be hidden on a website.

Small print challenge 3

Then he mocked up how this could look:

Small print challenge 4

Nick Parker rewrote it as user instructions:

Coupon quick guide
The full terms are on our website
Go to

To use this coupon, you need to be:
over 18, and show your nectar card.

Hand it to your cashier
Or scan it in the coupon slot at self-checkout.
If it says so on the front, you can use it for online shopping, too.

There are some things you can’t use it for
Cash-like things, such as gift cards, mobile top-ups.
In-store concessions, such as Clarks shoes, restaurants, parking.
And certain exempt items, such as fuel, lottery tickets, alcohol, and medicines.

You must use an original coupon, not a copy.
You can only use one coupon per item.
If there’s a required spend, you need to meet that in one go.
You can’t transfer, sell or auction this coupon.
It has no cash value, and can’t be exchanged for cash.

We reserve the right to refuse coupons
For example, if we think you’re bulk buying for commercial purposes or reselling.

Want to talk to us?
Call our Careline on 0800 636 262

I’ve formatted his version below, to fit on the actual coupon size.  To fit in on in 8pt Myriad, I edited it down a little. I cut out the ‘over 18’ reference because I think that only applies to buying things like alcohol, and they can’t do that anyway. And I cut out ‘Hand it to the cashier’ because it’s probably obvious. Online or for self-checkout it can go on the interface. On the other hand, it could be good to include those instructions in Steve’s graphic form, to pull people in to read the voucher (if we think they really need to).

sainsbury's mockup-250px

Thanks everyone. We’ll think of some more challenges over the next few months.