Visual Thinking Simplified

By Tony Roman Oct 06, 2020
Oct 06, 2020

Chances are you are reading this text using a graphical interface computer or smartphone (as opposed to the bits made thereof). This advancement in intuitively displaying information has changed the course of history forever.

We used to think that visual thinking is only for those with design degrees or those who tell you their favorite typeface in conversation. As our brains have developed and adapted to process visual information, the human brain processes visual context 60,000 times faster than plain text. Indeed, the human mind is very receptive to visual information. That's why visual whiteboard is such a powerful tool for communication and collaboration.

But if visual thinking sounds tricky and technical, don't worry —it doesn't have to be. This guide will explain the fundamentals of visual thinking and how the concept is being applied in our daily life.

What is Visual Thinking?

First, we need to unpack what visual thinking is all about. Simply put, visual thinking is the set of tools that can make complex concepts or ideas more comprehensive by visualizing them.

When you have ideas, you may get pretty overwhelmed if you try to keep them all in your head. Visual thinking is about learning how to convey your thoughts more straightforwardly by using tools to make it more digestible. Marker and whiteboard, pen and paper, or keyboard and a visual collaboration tool - whatever it takes to get your thought out into the real world.

While text-based communication can be useful, there are times where words simply aren't enough to explain your mind to others. Quick sketches, charts, and diagrams help translate ideas more universally and conveniently.

Below are three ways you can utilize visualization (if you have not already):

Kanban Boards

From project managers to Domino's Pizza customers, the Kanban board is a visual representation of workflow stages designed to inherently provide context regarding where initiatives are among a project and the team's bandwidth. Creating a Kanban board is simple; you start by breaking down how many steps exist and labeling each step as a column. Then take each piece of work and make it into a card or sticky note. Finally, place the cards within the columns based on which workflow step each work is in. Voilà, you now the proud owner of your very own Kanban board. For simple tasks, Kanban may be excessive, but as the amount of work and the number of stakeholders and dependencies increase, it becomes increasingly useful to see a bird's eye view of progress.

Three key takeaways for Kanban:

  • Left to right Progression
  • Workflow steps transformed into columns
  • Overview of project status and bandwidth

Data Visualization

We inherently have a hard time thinking our way through scale. 1,000,000 and 10,000,000 are only one “0” apart, however they symbolize a 10X difference. When presenting data, we can understand comparisons much easier when data is appropriately visualized.

To use Allo as a means of presenting visual data, screengrab charts, and bring them on to our canvases. Then use our commenting tools or sticky notes to annotate graphs and provide relevant context. Lastly, for the curious stakeholders, hyperlink out the charts to the primary source like Amplitude, Google Analytics, or simply download a Csv or Xlsx sheet.

Summary

In a nutshell, visual thinking can be used to manage projects, present information in a digestible way, and explore and define what it means to take on a task. It is a process of bringing our ideas from our minds into a piece of paper. Allo provides our users with blank canvases which they can use to explain their wonderful ideas to others. They can collaborate and develop ideas that may never have come to fruition otherwise.

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

- Benjamin Franklin -

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