In the past decade, we’ve seen a rapid, societal shift in spatial — or what we now call visual — learning. Advancement in technology, media, platforms and smarter devices have led photographs, hand drawn sketches and illustrations via digital tools to be the way in which we prefer to understand information, as well as to organize our ideas and thought processes.
James Bruner of NYU notes in HP’s The Power of Visual Communication, people remember 10 percent of what they hear, 20 percent of what they read and 80 percent of what they say and do. And in the book, Brain Rules, author John Media notes that memory works by recording the gist of what we experience, not the details; so experts need to organize information around key concepts and big ideas as information is remembered best when it is elaborate, meaningful and contextual.
For that, we need technology. In order to create visual communication methods with my clients, I’ve found five apps and softwares that beautifully articulate information and help create results for those using them.
Mural.ly is a new platform which offers visual collaboration for creative people. It allows you to save digital snippets in text, image and video form and then arrange them on smart, attractive layouts. This online service allows you to work alone or with your team to harness the extraordinary powers of visual creativity, organization and learning.
“We provide the building blocks for each team to set up the space according to their process/method,” says CEO Mariano Suarez Battan. “Once you are done brainstorming/ideating, you need to put all the pieces together to create that shareable blueprint needed for the execution.”
Battan also shared that IDEO is running a Design Thinking Workshop using Mural.ly as a platform, and that they have distributed its teams to execute on human centered design activities online. These workshops include mapping research, creating mood boards, brainstorming and synthesis.
NoteSuite, is a service that “breaks down the silos that prevent users from working on different kinds of files together on mobile devices.” What makes it different from its main competitor, Evernote, is that it’s adopting a different pricing service to the popular freemium model.
Pikotchart makes creating information graphics and visuals simple. This site makes it easy to modify and customize infographics through its library of templates. The basic version is free and offers three themes, but you can upgrade for under $200/year and receive 100 themes. It is in its beta stage, but is looking to be a great competitor to Visual.ly, which provides infographics services with analytics between $999 to $5,000 per project.
Honey is the brainchild of Dan Hou, Chip Kellam, and Brendan Bolton-Klinger, and is operated by Front & Main, LLC. With all the information available on the social web, the group wondered why it was so hard to share information that people work with. So, in order to make it easier for people to tap into their company’s collective intelligence, they created Honey, a social intranet that people actually want to use. Honey organizes information into visual groups by topics and people with a starting price of $50 per month.
Every creative I know has Paper by FiftyThree on his or her iPad. This app, designed for thinkers, creators and visionaries, recently recently received $15 million in funding from Chris Dixon and the Andreessen Horowitz team. Paper allows the user to capture their ideas as sketches, diagrams, illustrations, notes or drawings and share them across the Web.
Paper has created strategic partnerships with key companies in visual industries such as WWD for New York Fashion Week and Moleskine to grow its user base. It has scored more than 8 million downloads and produced more than 80 million projects.
“Apps, softwares and technologies that allow us to articulate information in visual and auditory ways serve individual creativity and group co-creativity. On an individual level, these technologies connect the logical mind with the wisdom of the unconscious,” says Eileen Clegg, founder of Visual Insight. “Visuals are the language of intuition and imagination. For groups, they are the language of co-creativity and innovation. These technologies are returning us to the most human roots of communication at a time when we are overwhelmed with information and choices in an increasingly technological world.”
How are you leveraging visuals to help develop better ways of working?