Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Weather Forecast for Today is....



As I mentioned in my last post, the National Weather Service is asking for public comments as it tries to simplify its weather alerts so more people can understand them. 


Here is one that is posted on their test page today:  
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Original Message) 
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BLACKSBURG HAS ISSUED A 
WINTER STORM WARNING FOR FREEZING RAIN AND SOME SLEET...
IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST TODAY.
WHICH IS

Vs. 
(Proposed Alternate)
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BLACKSBURG HAS NOW ISSUED AWARNING  FOR A DANGEROUS COMBINATION OF FREEZING RAIN AND
SOME SLEET UNTIL NOON EST TODAY.
--------------------------------------------------------

Wardrobe Malfunction #1 (as I see it)
1. Adding "now" ---"now issued" just adds one more word to 
read.  It doesn't fix the passive verb form. 

Why not:  "WARNING...Dangerous.....

Wardrobe Malfunction #2
2. ALL CAPS HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE HARDER TO READ than 
normal font ( I know this is still debated but I err on the side of not using them, especially for low literacy and older readers).  Normal font allows readers, especially the 50% of the adult in the US who have trouble reading ( low literacy) to see individual word's landscape. 

Some references on typeface and readability:
I like Ellen Lupton's essay "Science of Topography" .

Briggs, R. & Hocevar, D.J. (1975). A new distinctive feature theory for upper case letters. The Journal of General Psychology, 93,87-93.

Gump, J. (2001). The readability of typefaces and the subsequentmood or emotion created in the reader. Journal of Education forBusiness, 76(5), 270-273.

Williams, T.R. (2000). Guidelines for designing and evaluating thedisplay of information on the web. Technical Communication, 7(3),383-396.