INSIDE GOODPRACTICE SERIES


 By Stef Scott, Content and Lead Research Editor at GoodPractice

One of the core jobs at GoodPractice is ensuring that our content is engaging, useful and current. Sometimes, this involves updating what we’ve already got to keep things fresh, but occasionally we embark on a project to introduce brand new types of content to our toolkits for leaders and managers.

We're currently in the middle of a project to develop a series of 50 infographics on our most popular leadership and management topics. For someone whose design expertise is somewhere close to zero, this project has been a rather steep learning curve for me! I’ve quickly found that it isn’t simply a case of throwing some suitable words together and crossing my fingers in the hope that a designer can work their magic on it.

That’s why we’ve developed a highly collaborative internal process to create our infographics. We also work with some amazingly talented designers. Here’s an insight into our creative infographic development process, and how it helps us get great results.

I have a cunning plan

Recently, we wanted to develop a new infographic on ‘Coaching versus Mentoring’. The content team felt this would be a great topic to cover, as people can be confused about what ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ mean, and how leaders and managers should use them.

We start with a written brief. This sets out all the information that will go into the infographic. We’ve found that the best infographics succinctly blend facts and figures about a topic with useful tips and best practice advice. We conduct thorough research which involves: 

    • identifying relevant, credible research findings, surveys and statistics
    • checking our bank of existing content
    • reviewing popular books on the subject
    • carrying out thorough internet searches to find relevant news stories, articles or blogs


After all this research we end up with rather a lot of ‘stuff’ that could potentially go into each infographic. The tricky bit is then deciding what goes in and what stays out. As we’ve developed more and more infographics, we’ve got better at this. Good infographics are short and sweet, but still pack a punch in terms of content. In the early days of this project I think it’s fair to say that we tried to cram far too much into them. Now, we spend a fair bit of time on content curation and refinement, so that only the most relevant, helpful information about a particular topic is included. We always ask: “What would be most useful for leaders and managers to know?” and take it from there.

 This process means that our infographics will:

    • be informative and helpful
    • be pitched at the right level for our audience of leaders and managers
    • offer a new twist or angle on a subject
    • not simply regurgitate information you can find elsewhere


Written and researched by my colleague Cat, the brief for ‘Coaching versus Mentoring’ was all of these things. I was excited to work with our designer on it and see what she would come up with. As I’d not worked with this particular designer before, I wanted to see what she could create without any upfront design ideas or input from us. Often this works well, but sometimes it doesn't. Not suggesting a style or theme gives a designer freedom to express their creativity, but this sometimes means the first draft doesn't quite hit the mark.

It’s good, but it’s not right

Here’s a little snippet of the first infographic design I got back. Whilst there are good things about this design, it didn’t feel quite right for what we needed.



The colours didn’t quite work, and I would have liked to see more use of colour, iconography and imagery. The orange bearded character shown above is taken from Greek mythology and is supposed to be Mentor, who was a friend of the Greek king Odysseus*. Although this was an interesting idea, it was a bit too obscure a reference to make sense to a large proportion of our target audience.

Phone a friend

An important part of our infographic development process involves getting feedback from the wider editorial and design teams. Although this takes time, getting multiple perspectives has been invaluable. My colleagues are not afraid to say what they think, and with us all having recently read Pixar founder Ed Catmull’s book Creativity Inc, I can safely say that feedback in our team is delivered with honesty and candour **.

I trust my colleagues to say what they really think, even if it means starting again from scratch. Despite the work that had already been done, everyone felt the same: this one needed a fresh approach.

This says a lot about how we work as a team, and our values as a company. Rather than sticking with something that we know is just OK, we wanted to make sure this infographic was good enough to make the cut and appear in our toolkits.

And now for something completely different

I then had a conversation with our designer where I shared our thoughts. I was lucky to be working with someone who had great design skills and who was able to take the feedback on board positively. We were both committed to getting the design just right.

We decided to try a ‘spot the difference’ theme, with animal characters to help to bring out the important messages of the infographic in a more playful, fun way. I also asked for more colour and iconography to illustrate all the great tips and advice.

The designer then worked up the second design. Here is a peek at what I got back. As you can see, although it’s the same information as above, the design is completely different.



Our approach to creating infographics is a highly iterative one, and often involves a number of rounds of feedback until we are 100% happy with how things look.

Here’s one I made earlier

I asked my colleagues to take a look at the second design. We all agreed that it was definitely on the right track. It has a much more friendly feel and the animal characters work really well. I got some great suggestions from one of our instructional e-learning designers, Tracey. She has a good eye for colour and had some ideas about what we could tweak to make the infographic look even better. She even mocked up some of her suggestions to help me explain to the designer exactly what was needed. Thanks Tracey!

Lovely jubbly

Here’s a look at part of the final version of this infographic which has just been added to our toolkits. We are all really pleased with the end result. It presents the information in an easily understandable and fun way.

 

The process has taken around three weeks from start to finish, but I hope you’ll agree that what we’ve got has been worth the effort. This is a great example of the collaborative work processes we use at GoodPractice. It also shows how sharing ideas and getting feedback from colleagues can help take an idea to the next level.

See them for yourself

Infographics are just one of the many types of great learning content we create at GoodPractice. Our clients tell us that our content is engaging and interesting - that’s why they come back to us time after time.

If you’d like to see more of our infographics and the other types of content we offer, why not arrange a quick toolkit demo today? Our friendly account managers can give you a whistle stop tour of the toolkit highlights in just 15 minutes. We’d love to know what you think!

About me

I’m Content and Lead Research Editor here at GoodPractice Towers. I spend my days creating different types of content for our toolkits and coming up with ideas to make our content stand out from the crowd. I also get involved in GoodPractice’s ongoing programme of research, such as our recent report on 70:20:10 and our annual UK Learning Trends Report. I am also our resident party and events planner and colleagues tell me I make a mean cup of tea!

* If you want to find out more about Mentor and the role he played in Greek mythology you can do so here.
** Ed Catmull, Creativity Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces the Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Bantam Press, April 2014). The idea that teams can be highly candid when it comes to giving feedback on each others’ work is a key idea from the book. Through ‘candour’ (which essentially is open, honest feedback) teams can get feedback on their work in a safe environment, where everyone is focused on the goal of creative excellence.