We make it easier for people to understand information. This may mean simplifying the information itself at the surface – clearer language, well-signalled arguments, coherent explanations. Or it may mean simplifying the content – for example, the underlying process or system which the information tries to convey. Or it may mean simplifying the reader's task: providing helps, better navigation, more legible fonts, and better layout.
Early on in our existence, we set out some thoughts on what it means to simplify information, and what is lost or gained (download it here).
One thing we are clear about is that simplicity isn't just about appearance. Something can look simple but be very hard to use because it hides important detail – rather like those modernist kitchens where there is no clutter or mess, but also no handles on the doors and no clue which door hides the fridge.
For us, simplification is closely related to information design, and that's where the core skills of the simplifier can be found. Information designers apply what has become known as 'design thinking' to content, to language, and to layout.
We want to make information easier to understand – the information we use every day to make important choices, or to understand our options.
We have a network of volunteers who come together for Simple Action days: creative sessions where we work together to challenge and simplify difficult communications in common use. Our volunteers are mostly communication professionals or students, and include many people who have attended our Summer School – if you would like to join in, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We partner with other organizations including:
International Institute for Information Design (IIID)
The Simplification Centre was launched at the University of Reading, based in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, a leading centre for research and teaching. We became an independent organization from 1 April 2011. These days our main activities include the annual summer school, our simple action days, and training.
You can read more about our first two years in this report: The first two years: 2009-2010.
The Simplification Centre is coordinated by Rob Waller. We are a registered charity (number 1154741). The trustees are Rob Waller, Alan Wells OBE (founder of the Basic Skills Agency) and Clive Richards (Emeritus Professor at Birmingham City University).