Communication Design Question Sets

For some communication design decisions, it can be difficult to locate existing design guidance that is relevant.

In some cases, it will be necessary to use a Universal Design approach (process), which prioritises the diverse needs, characteristics, capabilities and preferences of people. An easy way to learn more about this is through the short animation Meet The Normals. This approach is detailed in the European standard IS EN 17161:2019.

The following sets of questions are also helpful for use when relevant communication design guidance is not available. The questions can also help to inform initial planning, purchase specifications (procurement) and user testing.

The Written Communication and Verbal Communication design question sets can also be used to inform Digital and Web Based design decisions where relevant.

For additional information, visit the website for the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design.


More information about designing for people is available in the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Guide 71:2014 at a free Guide for addressing accessibility in standards. Annex B contains a tool about optional terminology based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).

Learn More

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) provides further information about Universal Design and Body Size.

CEUD provides information on Universal Design and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).

Written Communication Design Questions

The following questions are designed to support you in the development of new written communication for members of the public:

  1. Is important information presented in order of importance and in a logical order? For example, is similar information grouped together?
  2. Is important information structured in a way so that it is easy to find? (Using table of contents, headings, sub-headings and so on).
  3. Is the layout consistent? Are recurring features presented in the same location? (For example, page numbers and logos).
  4. Is important information clear, concise and easy to understand the first time it is read?
  5. Is the information written in plain English? Where you must use technical words, have you explained, in plain English, what it means?
  6. Where applicable is the information available in other languages?
  7. Have you avoided using terms, abbreviations or acronyms that may not be familiar to the reader?
  8. Are the symbols and words used familiar to the reader?
  9. Do you present important information in different ways? (For example, using audio, touch or images)
  10. Is the information accessible to people using assistive technologies (such as screen readers)?

Spoken and Signed Communication Design Questions

The following questions support you in the development of spoken and signed designs for customer communication:

  1. Do you provide the same information in different formats, such as through text or images?
  2. Do you provide spoken information in plain English?
  3. Do your services work with assistive technology products and services?
  4. Is information presented in order of importance?
  5. Are options presented in a clear and concise way?
  6. Is content presented in a way that is easy to understand and use?
  7. Is the person familiar with the words and symbols you are using?
  8. Where appropriate is the person offered information in different languages?

Customer engagement and outcomes can be enhanced through considerations such as:

  1. Have you directly involved members of the public in the process of design, development and testing (especially customers that might normally be excluded)?
  2. Have you used specialised resources to represent a wide range of customer abilities and preferences in the process?
  3. Has your organisation implemented a policy to promote Universal Design and conduct training to optimise customer communication?