I’ve never seen clients stand around a written report gesturing at various pages discussing their implications… but when this happens with a drawing, I really feel like my job is done.
A written report can be restrictive when working with rich, emotive material, so I often use visuals to communicate insights and what they mean to my clients.
The same drawings I use to help myself ‘see the wood for the trees’ can be a valuable tool for sharing findings and concepts.
Until recently I’ve produced these to a simple but polished level:
Polished visuals can extend beyond initial graphic impact to tell stories, build context, explain relationships and show processes. Until now I’ve used these as part of a final deliverable as they can be absorbed in a fraction of the time it takes to read a report, are well circulated and fantastic for getting buy in.
…more recently I’m using sketches earlier in a project as a different kind of tool – a platform for discussion.
Although clients don’t always consider it up-front, consensus building can be a valuable outcome from customer research. Teams across design, product, marketing etc. often need to just ‘get on the same page’.
Bringing the voice of the customer, or insights from their behaviour alive with a simple cartoon and can really get people talking.
A polished deliverable always has it’s place but the pencil is getting a workout earlier in the process these days. I’ve realised different stages of a project require different styles of visual and by using the appropriate level of detail for the audience and the decisions they face at the time, they can be one of the most powerful tools in the box.
By popular demand I’ve put a few more examples on the ‘approach’ page of my design research consulting website. … and there’s a link there to request a fuller set.