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Simple actions: ways to help

The Simplification Centre exists to help make life simpler – we question why it has to be so hard to understand your mobile phone contract, your bank charges, your tenancy agreement, your tax, your benefits, or any of the other things that (a) really matter and (b) most people don’t understand.

Clientless design for the common good

Information designers have a lot to contribute, but we don’t want to wait to be asked. So Simple Actions are clientless design projects – volunteer designers and writers offering solutions to whoever can use them. It’s done in the spirit of open source software and Wikipedia. Click on the link on the left, where we’ve listed some of the projects that have inspired us.

Yes we can, just do it: pick your own catchphrase

Like the weather, it is easy to assume there’s nothing you can do about the fact that, for example, credit card agreements can be 30,000 words long, in 5pt type. But that’s rarely true – look out for Alan Siegel’s TED presentation. Problems only get solved because someone makes an effort – someone owns the problem and sorts it out.

Some of our solutions may just be a matter of putting right some simple faults – just doing it well. But we’re really looking for transformative ideas that challenge old assumptions.

Our Simple Actions hack days*

We held our first Simple Actions hack day, at the Royal College of Art, London in April 2012. Ten professional designers and writers gave a day of their time to tackle an everyday problem of complex information: the tenancy agreement. We treated it not just as a legal document but as a tool that helps the landlord and tenant maintain a good relationship.

Since then we’ve looked at parking signs, planning notices, and drug emergency kits.

If you are a designer, a writer or just someone who’s interested in make things simpler, why not come along to the next Simple Action day. Watch for announcements on Twitter.

*What’s a hack day? Also known as design jams, hack days bring people together to develop solutions in a short intensive time – often for non-profit motives. We borrowed the term from the worlds of software and user experience, where the idea originated.