5 steps to strategic visualization during content creation: reversing a process to be more compelling
December 16th, 2013 by Vince Bitel
The stampede of the infographic gold rush has left a lot of humble bar and pie charts littering the shoulders of the visualization trail. Are any of us sympathetic? I’m not. I want more visualization in content creation, and not just limited to the fashionable, standalone infographic.
A change to the way we create content to succeed with visualization
TechTarget has published media consumption research of our technology audience for years. At first, we followed a typical process of developing content in a corporate environment, in this case a research report. Someone would survey technology professionals and then compile the results, pass it to someone else who would determine then write the key findings, then a third person would insert several bar charts. Then after being validated by all stakeholders, the whole lot would be handed over to a graphic designer to format into one of the brand’s templates, make slightly more attractive charts and choose a pleasant stock photograph to go along with a matter-of-fact title for the cover. It’s a linear process that delivers (cough) acceptable results. But this process thwarts the designer’s visualization ability; it’s like hiring an architect after you build your house. This is common because creative content has never been a major priority for most companies, so they have no processes in place to support it.
So what process would we use for our latest media consumption research so that visualization was a strategic asset of our content creation? Hmmm, what else have we done with a time-tested process that’s similar? Hmmm? Oh, wait, duh: advertising, where a strong visual and tightly aligned words communicate a complex idea in seconds. And it’s 5 steps that adapt to any content creation.
The 5 steps to strategic visualization during content creation:
- Carefully clarify and document the major points you want to convey to your audience. Validate the accuracy of the points with stakeholders.
- Before anyone starts writing a draft, lock the content author and a graphic designer in a room until they devise sketches of harmonious visuals and verbiage that communicate your key points succinctly. Validate with stakeholders how effectively you’re communicating with your visualization sketches.
- Author the supporting content, from little text for a research report to considerable text for a white paper. Validate with stakeholders that your prose is doing a good job elaborating on the major points and that you haven’t been redundant with the visualization(s).
- Bring the elements together. Validate how well you’ve combined the visualization and the text with your business stakeholders.
- Market strategically superior content that will be distinct from your competition. Validate with customers that you are awesome.
While the visualization process above requires more effort and more discipline, investing equally and simultaneously in content and design turns the effort and expense into 2 very valuable results for your business: memorable differentiation from your competition, and more awesome content marketing.
If you have any great examples of how you have used visualization to improve content, please share with them with me. Also feel free to comment below and share any of your insights with our audience as well. I am always looking for new ways to build content assets for the benefit of our customers.