Tips for planning your next visual project

April 13, 2016

A worksheet you can use for visual project planning is available for download at

Good image research starts with thoughtful planning to identify goals and desired outcomes for the communications outreach, target audiences and the channels needed to reach them, and the interests and values of your audiences. A good planning process gets as specific as possible, as these considerations will in turn inform image options and testing design.

For example, are you setting out to motivate an action, influence attitudes or shame an opponent? Do you need to reach and connect with a broad audience, or just ‘young people’ or ‘parents’ or ‘residents of a particular neighborhood or town affected by a specific problem or decision?’ Such clarity on goals and audience will steer choices on testing approach as well as focus group recruitment or targeting for an online experiment.

When analyzing audiences in terms of ways to interest or appeal to them visually, be creative and broad at first if you’re not already confident what will work well. For each appeal angle you come up with ¾ such as ‘health’ or ‘jobs’ or ‘recreation’ ¾ make a list of ideas of what you could show in a visual. Who could you show? Are there images you could pair in combination? What facts or stories might accompany particular shots? Think about showing problems, solutions, impacts, testimonials, something funny, or something maddening.

Looking at your range of ideas for visuals and appeals, what predictions can you make about what will be best at drawing attention, triggering emotion and engagement, and motivating action? What are you pretty confident about based on past research and experience? What are you unsure about or perhaps assuming without prior research to go on? These will become research questions to explore in your image-testing.

We’ve prepared a Visual Project Planning Worksheet you can use when planning your next communications outreach effort.

Jeff Cappella