Twenty years ago I struggled as a newbie blogger, trying to place WordPress into my hosting account’s file manager. It wasn’t like nowadays, when WordPress is automatically installed for you as standard. It was a horribly technical job, which was totally defeating me.
So I turned to the internet for help, and got through to someone who looked like he knew what he was doing. However, it turned out not to be the case. This young whipper-snapper, who seems to be about 12 in my eyes, only used jargon to explain his solution to my predicament.
This showed to me, as someone who was considerably older even then, a total local of empathy or understanding about how to adapt his knowledge for a non-technical person. So I asked myself, is this a trait of the younger person who lives in their own world and is unaware of the plight of people who aren’t the same as them?
This shouldn’t happen to others
My frustration and angst which resulted from this unnecessary use of jargon made me determined that others should not go through the same treatment. There is no need for jargon. It doesn’t necessarily make you look clever. All it does is create confusion because nobody understands it.
People in the corporate world use jargon to hide behind it. It is a smoke-screen to disguise how much they don’t understand the subject. Peppering your speech with acronyms supposedly makes you look and sound authoritative. This may convince some people of importance, but in the end this may turn and bite you on the bum!
Einstein once said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”. There is nothing wrong with simplicity. It shouldn’t undermine your status. I still remember the consultant who explained my predicament to me in ordinary language. His calm, measured delivery only confirmed his authority.
Simplicity is key
There is nothing wrong with people being able to understand something because it has been explained simply. There is this misconstrued concept that anything which is complicated must be valid, authoritative or worthy, when actually, when you bury right down into it, this is further from the truth.
Having the ability to explain something in a simple way not only shows true understanding, it also reflects onto who are you are explaining it. Using inappropriate words to the wrong kind of people is not only pointless, it will put them off and nobody will benefit from it.
Obviously it is important to adapt to our audience, because how you communicate with children is different to teaching adults. But it is worth remembering to use simple words, words which people can relate to more easily, to aid comprehension of what you are trying to say.
It’s all relative
Relatedness is a very important point. Perhaps even more than simplicity. If your audience is able to take what you are telling them and reposition it within their own lives, finding things they can connect with, responding to whatever resonates with their own way of thinking, then you’re more than half way there.
This concept of relatedness is something which is often overlooked. Now you can use words which may not necessarily be simple, but are what people have already heard, use regularly within their daily lives, and are familiar with beforehand.
To arrive at this state requires you to truly understand your audience, how they tick, knowing their preferences and appreciating the things they do everyday. It is worth doing sufficient research and analysis of who you are reaching out to, to get this right from the beginning.
Explain away the jargon
Focusing on simplicity and relatedness may seem limiting to some. However, I see tackling jargon as a challenge to explain a technical term in such as way as to result in vigorous nodding, and receive acknowledgement using their own words (excellent feedback, by the way).
The main focus is to encourage people to enthusiastically attempt a task, transaction or transformation which they would have baulked at before. Only through simple and relative explanations would this have been made possible.
In my mind, true comprehension means the action will be performed correctly, with the process retained for future use. Only real understanding allows this. People have to know what they are doing, what the result will be, and how this will affect them afterwards.
Why is this important?
So how did this create the Fairy Blog Mother? Having suffered terribly to create my blog, and then thoroughly appreciating the world of blogging, I just had to tell about it to others. The blank stares said it all. It seemed had my work cut out if I was to explain any of this successfully.
My delivery had to be more simple, adapted so it could relate to people’s way of thinking. I needed to show them the why and what, along with the repercussions and results of what happened, combined within normal instructions.
This is why so many people get frustrated and annoyed with flatpack instructions from IKEA and other furniture manufacturers. These have not been thought through in the terms of the user. It may have made perfect sense to whoever wrote them, but it was not constructed with the recipient in mind.
Filling in the gaps
I suppose this comes from people missing out on various stages within their explanations, because to them it seems so obvious. But this may not be necessarily so for others. Forgetting about these tiny, seemingly unimportant steps can make or break the ability for others to understand and move forward.
Because these tasks are second nature to the creator to perform these functions, the idea to do them may not occur to others who haven’t done this transaction before. The reason why it isn’t obvious to them is because they are unknown.
This is why simplicity and being relatable is so vital. Real beginners start from a blank sheet, knowing absolutely nothing. Therefore assumption is probably the biggest mistake to make, if gaps in their knowledge are failed to be filled in adequately.
How to prevent stalemate
So going back to that young whipper-snapper who vexed me so much at the beginning of my blogging career. He got angry because I didn’t understand his terminology, and I got annoyed because he failed to help me properly.
The stalemate which ensued forced me to find out how to do it myself. And as a result of managing to complete this challenging task, I felt an affinity with all the other budding bloggers who would find themselves in the same predicament.
If they hadn’t the persistence or wherewithal that I had, they would have got nowhere. Not everybody has the time or inclination to fathom out a problem which would set them back in their endeavours. I know this, because I have met plenty of people who are like this.
Hence the Fairy Blog Mother was born
I had the ability to sit down and really think about what is needed for the beginner blogger. Especially since I had also suffered from assumption made by others. I was amazed at how often this is the case when it comes to instructions or explanations.
There is no reason to be tormented by jargon, especially without adequate explanation. Ordinary words would do just as well with clear, targeted, visual instructions, full of arrows pointing to what people should concentrate on. This was a new phenomenon then which is now used everywhere now.
And I also explained what I was going to do, what this was for, what would happen as a result, and the benefits of doing so. This was also a revelation at the time. Somehow people hadn’t thought this was necessary within the world of blogging tech.
So what happens now?
Over time, blogging became more widespread and adapted for the younger person. Initially WordPress was fashioned like a Word document, but when it was changed to Gutenberg to incorporate the block system, it became far too complicated for the older person to cope with.
So the Fairy Blog Mother has a chance to rise again! This new system requires a different mindset, but I know I can explain it, because I already have. Sign up for my Gutenberg Guide to find out how to work with this new phenomenon, including the drag and drop facilities used by other platforms.
As a result, keep and eye out for more Gutenberg courses, webinars and comparison posts about the old and new WordPress styles. This is important if more people are going to survive moving on with blogging. Because the last thing I’d like is for people to give up purely because bad presentation and jargon prevents them from doing it any more!