Critique of a Guide to Funeral Services

Abstract 

This report will focus on the critical analysis of A Guide to Funeral Services to determine its readercenteredness, usability, and persuasiveness. Further, the report will present possible recommendations that could be implemented to better suit the Australian community, which relies on the Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA) services. The document was examined thoroughly in terms of its ability to communicate to the target audience, physical presentation, effective and accurate language use, and its cultural and social implications. After a review of different manuals on how to write a guide for funeral services, it was evident that the document had poor organization, information did not flow in a sequential manner, and it was difficult to follow without referring to parts that had already been read. In addition, the font used to present the guide was too small, which made it difficult to read. After an extensive analysis of the document, it was inferred that some recommendations were necessary to help the readers understand and follow through the guide smoothly. More importantly, organizing the ideas systematically and using a legible font would make the document more professional and easier to read than it is. Besides, the cover page did not seem defined; hence, it needed to be redesigned with more graphics to make it catchier to the eyes of the intended reader.  

Introduction

Guides to funeral services are essential documents for families and individuals going through a difficult time after the loss of their beloved ones. This report analyzes A Guide to Funeral Services by the Australian Funeral Directors Association, to determine is readercenteredness, usability, and persuasiveness. 

The Australian Funeral Directors Association is recognized nationally as the body responsible for licensing funeral directors, and is responsible for offering any advice that any member of the public requires during this difficult time. This report has been commissioned by the editor of A Guide to Funeral Services to determine its usability, persuasiveness, and readercenteredness.

This report refers to a range of authoritative texts, especially on technical writing guides to help come up with a critical assessment of the document. The guide is compared to other guides by different organizations in different countries. Further, this report will analyze the code of ethics critically to understand the legal implications of the same on the document. Though the analysis will not be detailed regarding the legal implications of the violation of each code, a general overview will be presented.

The critical analysis of the document was carried out based on Trigg, Jeromson, and Markwick’s analytical concepts; Meta, macro, and micro analysis. Meta analysis refers to the effects of the contents of the documents on the stakeholders. Macro analysis focuses on language use, structure, design, and formatting of the document. Micro analysis focuses on the grammatical issues and the wording of the document. This section is concerned with the technical aspects of the document in terms of grammar. Lastly, conclusions and recommendation for possible changes are outlined. 

Document Overview

The target audiences of the document include deceased families and friends who are seeking funeral services from the AFDA. The document seeks to help their clients understand the role of the directors, the code of ethics they rely on, and the execution of a smooth burial, with a provision for placing and resolving complaints if they arise. Wood notes that people view death as a dark occurrence in their lives, but they do not understand it is the beginning of another life. In the light of this, he notes that funeral guides help individuals through this difficult time because most people cannot view the positive in the occurrence of a death. Hence, this handbook on the funeral services by the AFDA is vital because grieving individuals can seek help from the association and have everything catered for the funeral.

 

Critical Analysis

Meta-issues

Meta-issues in the document refer to the intentions of the text in the document and the effects of the same on the stakeholders.  The intentions of the text are directly or indirectly related to the social and cultural concerns of the stakeholders. The meta-issues arising in A Guide to Funeral Services include the director/client relations, director/ AFDA relations, and the placement of values and opinions.

Director/Client Relations

The funeral services business requires service producers who be compassionate towards the grieving families, but still deliver services as per the specifications of the client. In A Guide to Funeral Services, the focus is on the responsibilities of the director, duty to comply with the AFDA code of ethics, and to consider client’s specifications. The document lists 10 codes of ethics that directors should comply with and 12 responsibilities of the director. The document acknowledges that the grieving families may have little or no knowledge regarding funeral arrangements because it could be their first time. In addition, the document is considered authoritarian as it states “Select a funeral director who is an accredited member of AFDA, which requires its members to honor a strict code of ethics and practice”.

Director/ AFDA Relations

The directors accredited by the AFDA have an ethical responsibility to comply with the AFDA Code of Ethics. Primarily, the directors are considered to act on behalf of the association. In fact, AFDA has an established committee to deal with any complaints that may be raised by the clients. Hence, the clients are at peace when contracting AFDA services because of the assurance of quality services. It states, “the AFDA has established its own guidelines regarding required standards for premises, equipments, and vehicles of its members”.

Imposed Values and Opinions

Different clients have different expectations for the funeral services, which could differ based on price or mere preference. Hence, a client is entitled to their opinion and the director should advise the client appropriately to ensure they offer services as per the clients’ needs. One of the responsibilities of the directors is to “Advise on religious requirements in relation to the funeral service and to visitation and other customs prior to and after the burial”. This declaration shows that the client has the mandate to give opinion and seek necessary advice, though it is not mandatory.

Macro-issues

Macro-issues are dependent on the genre of the document, hence, can only be compared to the documents in the same genre and the document in question.

Altered Context

The document does not have any altered content because it has been made specifically for the Australian people. Lack of a specific religion as a point of reference is splendid because Australia has a variety of religions. Further, the document creates room for both cremation and burial, which is great because both services are included. It states, “Consider the type of funeral service; cremation or burial”.

Components of Guides to Funeral Services

Genre refers to a particular pattern that has been accepted internationally as the acceptable way of communicating. Every handbook or guide to funeral services should comprise of particular components especially the roles of the director, requirements, and the role of the client. According to Wood, every funeral services guide must indicate the arrangements necessary and the role of the director if hired. In addition, it must state that the client is at liberty to make suggestions on the service they would prefer. Hence, the director is only responsible for putting together the client’s preferences and not his own. AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services outlines the role of the director, the code of ethics that he or she must abide by, and notes that client are free to give their opinions. In addition, the document has an introductory that welcomes the clients to understand the services offered and the benefits they get from hiring one AFDA’s directors. However, the title page is non-informative because it just indicates the information one may need. On the contrary, a table of contents to help the clients flip through directly to the section they would like to review should follow it.

Structure

Information in AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services is not arranged systematically. For example, the history of the association is placed in between the code of ethics and the accreditation when it should be at the beginning of the document. Also, the section on “what to expect when someone dies” should be at the beginning after the introductory note. The code of ethics and the responsibilities of the director should be aligned together to help the client understand the protection that one has as stated in the code of ethics. Information should organized in terms of the most important to the least important. Hence, a sequential arrangement helps in usability. Moreover, aligning the code of ethics with the responsibilities of the director will help in persuasiveness.

Physical Appearance

Physical appearance is important for the purpose of attractiveness and professionalism. It helps readers gain interest to read it, and it lays emphasis on the important information.  

Size

When compiling information, one should consider its convenience to the reader. Hence, it is advisable to be precise as opposed to repeating information, which could make the reader lose interest in the document. AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services is precise, though the history section could be reduced. Besides, all the clients need to understand is the length the association has been running. Some of the other details are unnecessary.

Color

Style Manual indicates that color is crucial for appeal, which could increase the interest in the contents in a book.  AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services is colorless on the inside but has a blue background color on the cover page. The color used is dull and a mix in the title of the book and the image on the cover would be break the monotony and make it more appealing.

Typography

The font used in the document is small and the readers are struggling to read it. It would be advisable to use Aria Font Size 12. It would be more legible.

Micro-issues

Micro-issues refer to the grammar, spelling and punctuation in the cument, which are not dependent on the genre.

Grammar

Good communication is dependent on grammar, and it cannot be overlooked. AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services has impeccable grammar but some of the words used could have been replaced by less complex substitutes. For example, it states “collation of certificates”. The word collation could have  been replaced by collection.

Punctuation

Punctuations help in making clear the meaning of sentences, which help in communication, AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services has used punctuations effectively. For example, “Consider the type of funeral service; cremation or burial”. The use of a semi-colon helps the reader understand that there two types of funerals.

Spelling

Spellings are extremely important and should be correct to prevent wrongful delivery of message. AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services has no spelling mistakes, which is splendid because the readers’ perception of information is as expected.

Conclusion

Overall, AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services meets most of the basic requirements of how to write a Funeral Guide Book. However, it fails in the delivery of macro issues especially physical appearance, size, color, typography, and structure. The meta-issues have been covered substantially, and have only one micro-issue.

Therefore, the book is not fully readercentered and its usability is not effective. However, it is persuasive in terms of the introductory note, but the lack of alignment of both the code of ethics and the responsibilities of the director could be a potential problem.

In conclusion, the AFDA’s A Guide to Funeral Services is likely to meet its aim of persuading clients to seek their services, but could increase its clientele if some changes were implemented.

Recommendations

  1. Change the cover page
  2. Change the structure to this arrangement:
  • Introductory Note
  • History
  • What to expect when someone dies
  • Accreditation
  • Code of ethics
  • Director’s responsibilities
  • Complaint Resolution
  1. Change the font to Aria size 12
  2. Use less complex words
  3. Add color

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Jul 15, 2019 in Marketing Essay Samples