I found myself leafing through some cookbooks at a bookstore, recently. The pages were laid out beautifully. Large photos showcased amazing results. On the opposite page, a simple list of ingredients, concise procedures and estimated times made the entire activity seem altogether easy — even for a novice. Recipes could be easily found by category and ingredients.

That reminded me of many of the books on politics and public affairs I’ve read, and the countless web pages and brochures on government and the political process I’ve visited. Some Many are painfully academic or just plain verbose. It’s hard to put politics and public affairs into pictures. It’s hard to distill either into something quick and easy to understand. And act on.

For practitioners, it’s even more complicated to detail how to achieve a goal since each situation is unique. Each campaign is subject to a different mix of forces, both internal and external.

Imagine if we could make civics look as good as a cookbook. Imagine if awareness and involvement could compete for a share of attention because of good design. Perhaps, then, we might have more people engaged and involved.

This is what I’ve been thinking about as I refresh existing projects and dig in to the planning stages of a new one.

Photo uploaded to Flickr by FountDesign.

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