Create Winning Process Docs: Make Them Visual
In this Series…
I’ll be covering the 25 best ways to start documenting your systems and processes in a way that your team will love so your business can grow and scale.
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Step 2: Make them Visual
If you Google “SOP Templates,” you’ll see a wide range of examples that appear in the search results…
What do most of these templates have in common? They are all text-based, might have one color highlight, and use tables. Yuck.
There’s one thing I can guarantee: This format is not how your team wants to learn.
So how do you create process docs that people will want to use? Read on…
Use Color, Videos, Images, Annotations, and Embeds
If the cliche is correct and a picture is worth a thousand words, why would you want to make SOPs and process docs by writing them out instead of including more pictures?
Let’s say I want to tell someone how to create a new Medium Article…
(P.S. even using the word “tell” instead of “show” feels wrong here. Nobody likes being “told” how to do something. Most people would rather be “shown.”)
A written process doc would require me to outline every step.
- Log into Medium.com
- Find the navigation bar and click on the “Write” button
- Give the article a title
And I might embellish it with an image:
It’s a start, but how could I make this better? I could use an annotated screenshot like the one below:
And what’s better than an annotated screenshot? A short video clip with narration and closed captioning:
With this single video, I can demonstrate what would typically take a lengthy numbered list.
Plus, there are a few key benefits of using video…
Video Benefit #1: Most video recording tools, like Loom.com, auto-transcribe the words you are saying. Not only will your videos have automatic captions, but you can also leverage the transcription to easily create text sections of the video directly in your process docs.
Video Benefit #2: The video is embedded. This means that the source video can be edited, and every process doc the video is used in also gets updated.
A Little About the Importance of Embedding
Let’s talk about embeds a little more because they are super powerful, especially in the case of process documentation.
Pretend you have a diagram that represents the process. In the past, you may have exported that diagram to an image file and then added it to your process docs.
Nothing is wrong with this until you want to update the process diagram.
At that point, you must also remember to update the process doc. And if you used it across multiple process docs, you must remember where you used it.
If you don’t, you run the risk of having process docs that are out of date and frustrating to use.
What’s the solution?
Embed the original diagram. Popular tools like Miro and Lucid allow you to embed your creations into other platforms. The trick is finding process doc builders that will allow you to embed these assets.
Use Color and put the Concepts Together.
- Use annotated images where applicable
- Leverage videos, especially short clips
- Embed existing assets like diagrams to ensure updates are automatically carried into your process docs
- Liven up your process docs with color.
Thank you for reading!