The Design of Everyday Briefings

Presidential Daily BriefingsGreg Storey posted an interesting and thoughtful exercise on information design last month over at, in which he suggests that a better sense of design might have benefitted the Bush administration in August of 2001, when they apparently underestimated — or wantonly disregarded — a series of warnings that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda had intentions to attack the United States.

His post is altogether earnest and well-intentioned, and I applaud him for it. The point he’s making is a good one that designers have been trying to get the world at large to understand — and with increasing seriousness — over the past few years: good design can have monumental impact on the effectiveness of information. Still, I can’t help but be a smartass about it.

So I was thinking: one thing that even Greg’s improved Presidential daily briefing might benefit from is more zing in the copywriting, as Larry Tate might say. I mean, Greg’s format is spot on in terms of visual prioritization, but had it been in use that August, I think President Bush would still have read it something like this:

Right: Redesign all you want, this is probably what W. would have taken away from it.
What Bush Still Would Have Seen

Here’s a version where the copy is a little ‘bolder.’ Hopefully, something like this might have gotten Bush off the ranch, but really, you never know, do you? There’s no point in dwelling on past mistakes. Unless they were committed by that no good bastard Bill Clinton. Him we’ll fry.

Right: How to get your message to the President.
Much Clearer


  1. Beautiful! There was a story about this in the WSJ, a slightly less abrasive spin. It’s motivating to see designers take action, and ultimately, some responsibility. We can do more than sell stuff after all.

  2. Of course with 20-20 hindsight these kind of bold titles are possible, but in reality nothing was 100% accurate. ‘Bin Laden in a 100% Ass’ might work….

    Isn’t it about time someone adds, “President Bush, this memo is important and you should care about this message”

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