Now that you’ve decided to outsource your infographics, what comes next? Acquiring the additional budget is only half the battle, and now you must learn to work well with this new vendor. It takes two sides to successfully create an infographic, but you’re only in control of one. Here’s what you can do to better control the process and increase the odds of a great infographic — and an even better relationship.
Image via Flickr by Rishu83
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Start With a Company Overview
Before you start working with a new vendor, they need a cohesive picture of your company. Schedule a half hour to go over what your company does, who your competitors are, and what challenges you face.
Try not to make this a structured interview, but a discussion about what keeps you up at night. Your vendors will learn more about you from the stories of business catastrophes the company has faced (and how you reacted to them) than basic information about target audiences. Your new designers will start to understand what to prioritize and how to build their infographics around your needs.
Showcase Content Your Company Has Used in The Past
Along with a company overview, pull together samples of past content you liked and didn’t like. It’s okay to unearth content from 2008 to show how far you’ve come. This is also when you want to review the company style guide and go over any questions the vendor has about your brand.
This session doesn’t have to be limited to your company. Show a few examples of content you like from major brands or industry peers, and also showcase aspirational content for where you’re going. With this, your new vendor will understand where you hope to be in the next few years.
Provide Context for This Specific Infographic
Never underestimate the value of providing context to your vendors:
- Why are you creating this infographic?
- Where is it going to live?
- Why is this topic important to your company?
- Is the IG focused on your biggest product or a new product that’s launching next year?
If the IG is going to live on a site different from your own, your vendor might tailor the design to fit better with the new audience. If you’re seeking to increase email subscriptions, they might create a two-part infographic that’s revealed once you subscribe.
Infographic context also applies to the content. By giving your vendor a reason to care about the topic, they’ll be able to focus exactly on what you want.
Test the Waters With Their Ideation Skills
To outsource ideation, or not outsource ideation, that is the question. For the first infographic, you may want to provide a concrete idea for your design vendor. This way you can point them in the right direction as they start to learn about your brand. Later, let them take over the ideation process by submitting three or four ideas for your approval.
Despite the best practice of providing the first idea for them, there’s certainly an argument for letting your infographic vendor come up with ideas right off the bat. If this is a test piece before building a strong relationship, then their research and creative skills need to be evaluated as well as their design skills. This sets your standards before anything is ever created.
Approve Every Step When Starting Out
For the first infographic, you should be more involved in the design process. Despite what designers might tell you, it’s better to over-communicate than to withhold your expectations. Make sure your vendor provides an outline and a wireframe before creation — at the least. Depending on the designer, you may be able to approve a color scheme and preliminary art choices before the first draft is even created.
If this feels like micromanaging, it’s actually a huge time saver. It’s easier to fix an outline or delete some characters before the IG is created instead of completely rejecting the first draft.
Provide Detailed Feedback
If the designer’s job is to communicate their actions step-by-step, then it’s your job to provide detailed feedback. When you review an outline, make sure everything you want covered is included and balanced the way you like.
One of the most common problems vendors face is that clients want the focus of an entire infographic to be on one subhead, and they reject the rest of the outline flat out. This feedback gives the vendor the direction they need to make the topic more niche, and closer to the client’s goals.
It’s okay to write pages of feedback for what you like and don’t. This is the vendor’s first time working with you and they should know how you think.
Evaluate the Process, Not Just the Product
Once the infographic has been approved and published, set up a post-mortem call to review the creation process. This is where the designers can review ways for you to improve — and vice versa. These are just a few of the questions to answer in this meeting:
- Was the turnaround for production acceptable?
- Did you provide detailed edits in a timely manner?
- Was the infographic submitted in the optimal format?
- Is there anything missing in the process that should be added?
Every client has a different process with their vendors, which means success depends on addressing these problems early on.
Designer Freedom Comes with Experience
Most designers understand that freedom comes with experience. While your first infographic requires extensive hand-holding, the next one will be easier. Eventually your vendor will come up with great ideas, make an outline that’s aligned with your brand, and produce a draft you love on the first try. The longer you work with this vendor, the more they will understand what you expect.
It’s okay if an infographic vendor doesn’t work out. Sometimes a process that’s perfect for one client is a nightmare for another. We created this guide so both parties can do everything in their power to make sure the infographic process goes well. If your vendor has produced a few IGs and you’re still not having an easier time working with them, consider testing someone new. Maybe try us instead?