What is better information?
We all agree that information for the public on law-related issues must be accurate, up-to-date, and in plain English. But it has to be more than that.
It has to:
- successfully meet the needs of its intended audience;
- get its message across effectively;
- be attractive, grab attention and hold it;
- lead to appropriate action;
- be efficiently disseminated and available when needed;
- work effectively as a part of wider services and campaigns.
That is what we mean by better information.
In recent years, many organisations have made good progress in improving the effectiveness of their information, but development has been patchy and uneven. There are some great examples of organisations producing effective, innovative materials but lessons aren't shared and are lost.
It is a still a problem that information is often produced on a shoestring budget, but if we share our knowledge and expertise on how to do this work well, we can improve the quality of information available to the public.
Who is this aimed at?
This site is aimed at all those involved in producing information for the public on law-related issues – whether in a government body, an advice service, specialist charity, or a community organisation. It aims to meet the needs of those new to information production as well as old hands, and so not all of the site will be relevant to every user or organisation. You may already have your own excellent processes in place, or there may be areas that need to be developed further.
Why produce better information? is intended to be of most use to managers and management committees, senior and policy staff, and those designing service delivery.
How to produce better information is aimed primarily at those involved in commissioning, producing, and editing information on law-related issues.
What do we mean by information?
This website deals with the wide range of material produced to assist the public to deal with law-related issues. It can cover everything from an awareness-raising beer mat to a detailed self-help guide.
Information is used as a way to get a message across to a large number of people, and so isn’t tailored to individual need. Information delivery is usually a one-way process and lacks the interaction that is an intrinsic part of both advice and education. This means that it is a constant challenge for information providers to find out whether their information has been understood or has been helpful.
Information is no substitute for advice or education, but sits alongside and complements these services. This is not to imply that information should be limited to simple facts - good information can deal with complicated issues, discuss options, and suggest actions.
This website is mainly concerned with information in written form: leaflets, postcards, posters, and websites. This is still the most common way of producing information, although there is increasing recognition of the value of other forms of delivery - audio, video, and theatre. However, the issues faced in producing these resources have much in common with the production of written material. The strategic issues are the same, projects still have to be managed, and scripts still need to be written. This website aims to assist in the process of producing all types of material.