Friday, July 29, 2011

Learning Without Words

At its roots, design communication is a problem-solving exercise. Redefining the solution, when warranted, can go a long way to maximizing the effectiveness of the end product. Such was the case when a government department issued an RFP asking for a comic book (with words) for adult English as Second Language students.

Our response was a proposal for The Wordless Book; a book with (you guessed it) no words at all. The students themselves would supply the words to the stories. It would be their book. They could write anything they like, at their own level, and in collaboration with their ESL tutor (or not). Each story was drawn in a slightly different style in order to even eliminate the need for the words "The End." (A tear-out guide for tutors was included, meant to be removed before distribution to the students.)

Redefining the client's initial request is not always possible. But when the opportunity presents itself, rethinking the solution may make the process more palatable for all – client, artist and target audience.


  1. This is a really good idea. I imagine the students liked this much better than Dick and Jane stories. Plus, if everybody learns English, there won't be any need for me to go to all that effort of learning another language!

  2. Thanks Linda! Communicating is such a bother at times, isn't it? "Hey you kids, get off the lawn!"