Trying something new: sketchnoting


Awesome communication is an integral part of content strategy. Communication with users, stakeholders, content authors, content owners and my team. I studied communication and worked as a journalist and radio producer for many years, but I often don't communicate as well as I would like. There have been times where I didn't understand a stakeholder's needs or was not able to convey the value of a new concept effectively.

For example, recently I failed to meaningfully explain why governance is a central part of any content strategy. I suspect this is because sometimes words are not enough - even when they are accompanied by the rich communication tool that is the human body. When I pulled this failure apart and debriefed with some content strategist colleagues they shared some techniques they have been using to communicate. They all centred around diagrams and graphs - using a visual language to convey meaning. Like this one from braintraffic.

So I am experimenting with something new - visual communication. I have taken Ben Crothers drawing class (twice - yes it is that good), poured over Edward Tufte's fabulous books including "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information", and read numerous other books about visual design, graphic design and visual communication. But something was holding me back. Maybe it was not knowing how to use the right tools, maybe it was not wanting to make a mistake (make a fool out of myself), or maybe it was not wanting to be disrespectful to a field populated by experts with many years training and practise under their belts :)

This month something changed. I tried a super quick course from skillshare on how to use the Paper iPad app for visual comms and I loved it. Then I challenged myself to practise with that tool so that "tool selection" stops being an excuse. I want to move on to the next level - creating visual artifacts which accompany a conversation and enhance communication. I will never be a visual designer, but I don't think having a try is going to offend anyone. I would however really appreciate any tips from those of you who are visual design professionals :) 

Disclaimer - I have tried a couple of things using this tool before, for example, the following presentation and project briefing.


Here are the results of my latest experiment. A first go at 'sketchnoting" to start me off. And yes of course they are terribly amateur, but having a crack felt great, and I can't wait to get better and start using this tool (or other tools) to improve how I understand and talk about tough and complex content strategy concepts.

Sketching UX Australia Sydney Redux

The experience design leader’s playbook (Anthony Quinn)



Qualities of the ultimate content strategist and designer (Elle Geraghty and Karina Smith)

Presenting so I could not do this one :)


The UX of edutainment apps for under 8s (Charlie Pohl & Simon Krambousanos)


So now it is your turn! Have a go at communicating using a different method than usual and let me know how you go :)