SmartDraw is a software program that is designed to help the average person to create great-looking diagrams, quickly and easily. But in my last job, I had very few opportunities to use it, so I really didn’t get a chance to use the latest version, SmartDraw 2010, for some real business applications.
All that changed in January when I took a new job as marketing manager for a small safety training products firm. My first major project has been to help this company to launch an ambitious, multi-faceted training curriculum to the mining industry. Based on a blended learning model, it incorporates web-based training modules, a PC-based simulator, and a variety of on-the-job training tools for trainers and trainees. It can also include a learning management system and several other elements.
The bottom line? This is a complex product. Obviously, it would take a mind-numbing volume of words to adequately describe how all of the pieces worked together to provide a powerful training solution. How could we communicate it quickly and simply to prospective customers?
Being a visual kinda guy, I realized almost immediately that one of the best ways to do that would be to create a visual that showed how all of these elements work together to provide a complete training solution. Using SmartDraw 2010, I created a series of diagrams that became awesome talking points with my boss, as we worked our way through successive iterations and came closer to a complete and accurate representation of the training curriculum.
Here’s what I learned about SmartDraw 2010 in the process of working with it during the past two-and-a-half months:
- It is intuitive and easy to use; all of its functions behaved as I would expect them to, and there were no ugly surprises.
- It makes great use of right-click commands, so you can accomplish common tasks without mousing over to the ribbon toolbar.
- The set of templates in SmartDraw 2010 is very impressive, and more importantly, very useful. You can easily take one of them and use it as a starting point for your own diagram.
- The straightforward, well-designed set of diagramming tools in this program made it easy for me to quickly create some compelling, great-looking diagrams that got incorporated into a number of planning documents, and could also be given to our developers and designers, to incorporate directly into sales brochures and web pages – or to inspire them to create something more polished and colorful in Adobe Illustrator.
The bottom line is that SmartDraw 10 has helped to make me look good to my new employer. I think they appreciate the fact that I’m able to think and represent my ideas visually – thanks to this excellent program.