No matter what your discipline, knowing how to communicate effectively is key to completing successful projects. At Nexight Group, we regularly turn complex information into reports and presentations that contain both textual and graphic elements. A variety of our staff — including analysts and designers — collaborate to create these well-rounded products.
Our Director of Communications, Lindsay Pack, has blogged about how visuals — such as infographics and diagrams — resonate with contemporary audiences. Graphics make complicated information easier to understand and keep readers engaged with lengthy documents. However, if you’re not artistically inclined, you may not know how to work with designers to get those stunning visuals. Here are some tips for fostering a fruitful collaboration:
- Come prepared with real content: While you may be able to generally discuss the key issues of your project, it is better to show the designer some actual text or data you want to include. Having concrete information will ensure no important elements of the assignment get lost in translation and will help the designer create useful templates or graphics.
- Don’t be afraid to communicate visually: You may not be the most visually adept person, but even simple sketches can help designers understand your ideas for possible graphics. Whether you are playing around with some concepts on a whiteboard or drawing on a sheet of paper, communicating visually will help the designer comprehend how information can interact in graphic elements and how you envision the final product.
- Stay open to new ideas: Sharing your sketches is a good idea, but don’t get too attached to those drawings. A designer will most likely have suggestions for layouts or graphics that you haven’t thought of or may know how to present information more effectively. View the design process as a mutual exchange. You provide insight into the project as a whole, and the designer provides experience with visual communication.
- Discuss the piece in real time: While information can be shared over email, it’s best to have at least a few sessions with a designer in real time. If you can’t meet with a designer face-to-face, some online programs, such as Google Drive, allow users to collaborate on a drawing or document simultaneously. This allows for an easier flow of ideas and questions and minimizes the chance of miscommunication.
- Don’t rush the process: It takes time to produce compelling visuals, especially for complex projects. A designer may need to create several versions of a graphic before the final is selected. Make sure to start the process at a point where you can give designers real information, but also leave them with enough time to create polished products.
Effective graphics add to the success of projects, but it’s no easy task to create them. Making sure you understand how to best contribute to the design process will reduce miscommunication, minimize rework, and ensure designers have what they need to create impressive visuals.