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Visual Literacy

November 19, 2007 at 9:45 am by Blair

As a creative services firm one of your strengths should be the ability to communicate complex information and key insights visually. In any strategic engagement or in the strategic phases (diagnostic and strategic direction setting) of any engagement the ability to communicate information visually separates you from consultants and other non-creative competitors who prefer to present complex information via long reports. 

If you'd like to further leverage this competitive advantage and build your arsenal of visual literacy then check out the Visual Literacy Project undertaken by a group of four European universities and their Periodic Table of Visualization Methods.




You'll recall from school days the Periodic Table of Elements that showed the one hundred or so of the known chemical elements in a tabular chart, grouped together by their similarities. (Element 1 is H - hydrogen, 2 is He - helium; Gold - Au is 79, etc.), an e-learning course assembled by four Universities to help set a visual literacy standard for students in fourteen different courses, similarly groups together a wide variety of visualization methods, from standard bar charts, pie graphs and Gant charts to the far more nuanced and obscure Synergy Maps and Zwicky's Morphological Box. 

Their online Periodic Table of Visualization Methods is coded in XML and shows you to mouse over each element to reveal an example. Above is an example of a Pert Chart (Pe). The Table breaks down the visualization forms along the lines of Data, Information, Concept, Strategy, Metaphor and Compound.

At the very least, this site is worth visiting for inspiration on new forms of conveying information, usually diagnostic findings and strategic recommendations. 

Process-framed cases studies are rooted in part in this idea of the power of making your thinking visible. Yours is a creative firm, you should present information visually whenever possible. One of my maxims when it comes to delivering diagnostic findings is this: there is an inverse correlation betweethe value of the information being delivered and the amount of paper it takes you to deliver it. 

Let the consultants write the reports that will gather dust on shelves. Strive to distill your findings and recommendations to key points, illustrated visually wherever possible. is a great repository of examples of how to  accomplish this.


Tagsdiagnostics (2) strategy (3) process (5) 

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