The best roadmaps do more than simply show off your strategy and get your team aligned on your goals. Don’t get us wrong—both of these are great starting points. But if your roadmaps are the main channels you’re using to communicate your product strategy, shouldn’t they also be as clear and insightful as the information you’re presenting? We think so, which is why we put together this guide to help you take your roadmap designs above and beyond.
Yes, your roadmaps should be visually appealing, and they might even need a makeover if they’re looking a little neglected. But they should also go one step further by giving your audience detailed information through the help of design.
But before we get to that point, let’s first get our terms straight. At the most basic level, information design makes our ability to understand easier through design that presents data or information as clearly and effectively as possible. Furniture building instructions that are nearly impossible to decipher? Bad information design. Roadmaps that successfully communicate your intentions to everyone who views them? Good information design!
When it comes to roadmapping, information design should do most of the heavy lifting by communicating the complex information and disparate pieces that encompass your product strategy. Good information design isn’t a one-and-done fix: it’s a process that will evolve over time as you apply its principles to every roadmap you work on.
With that understanding under our belts, here are a few of our favorite ways to keep your roadmaps looking sleek and stylish while calling attention to the details that make a big impact.
Highlight the information that matters most
With the click of a button, Roadmunk makes it easy to shine a spotlight on your roadmap items, giving you full control over the information you want to surface.
Within the Format panel, you have access to a treasure trove of nifty features that help you tell a more complete story through your roadmap. These are three of our favorites to get you up and running:
Adding more context to your roadmaps is rarely a bad thing, and with standalone sub-items, you can do just that without splitting up the parent-child item relationship. For example, you can hide more granular sub-items if you’re presenting your overarching strategy. Or you can opt to display sub-items if you want to show more detailed, tactical information. Best of all, it’s easy to toggle standalone sub-items on and off depending on what you want to show and who you’re presenting your roadmap to.
If you’ve ever wanted to keep track of the status of your project without having to second guess how far along it might be, our item progress feature is here to save the day. Once you assign a percentage value to your item (with a little help from the numeric Percent Complete field), you’ll be ready to start visualizing the progress of your items in no time.
To add an extra layer of detail to your roadmap visualization, you can display a second field value on your roadmap items. That means that you can choose to show the owner, status, or any other field—in addition to the item name—for that added bit of oomph your roadmap items might need.
Stay on track with time-oriented features
You’ve got deadlines to meet, and we’ve got the features to help you stay on top of them. Sure, you might write down target dates on Post-It notes, your calendar, or even assign them within the item card. But with these two Roadmunk features, you’ll be able to visually communicate and track whatever goals or deadlines you’re working toward.
Within the Timeline view, you can add milestones to spotlight high-level achievements and important dates. By visualizing deadlines with distinct symbols (like stars, rockets and flags), milestones help your entire team get aligned behind an easily identifiable goal.
Roadmunk gives you access to the common milestone types like releases, product launches and tradeshows, but feel free to customize your own to add to the list—your roadmap, your rules!
Want to highlight specific dates within individual roadmap items? Say hello to our key dates feature. Unlike milestones, key dates are more granular and call out project-level deliverables. They also can be helpful for splitting longer items into several phrases, providing visibility into how progress is being benchmarked at every step.
🔥 Hot tip: One easy way to tell milestones and key dates apart? Thanks to their colorful icons, milestones are instantly noticeable and hard to miss.
Add some zip to your roadmap’s look
Before we get ready for the big reveal of your new and improved roadmaps, these tips are sure to spruce up even the most basic roadmaps—not to mention make your strategy stand out at the same time.
Adding colors to your roadmaps goes beyond making them look pretty. So while your team might love creating custom color palettes that match your brand (and who are we to stop them?), try to also think about using colors in a way that helps you view item relationships and tell the story of your strategy more effectively.
While colors can certainly make your roadmap pop, they can also be used as an additional data pivot. To give your roadmap even more detail, try coloring your roadmap items by field (like status, for instance). That way, you’re adding more context to your items in order to better convey where they are in the pipeline. Who knew colors could be both striking and helpful?
Turns out emojis aren’t just for shooting off a quick text or reacting to a message in Slack. When roadmapping in Roadmunk, emojis create an easy-to-read visual reference for fields like status, cost and more. For example, you can use emojis as field values to break up the walls of text within your items table.
Or you can include emojis in your item names—or add them from a field using the label suffix feature—to ensure they stay super visible whether you’re working on your roadmap or presenting. The possibilities are as endless as your emoji library, so try some on for size and see which ones give your roadmaps some visual pizzazz.
Ultimately, you don’t have to be a designer or even have an eye for design to add visual enhancements to your roadmaps that go a long way. Once your roadmap has undergone its information design transformation, you’ll have the confidence you need to show off your roadmap’s most important ideas—and to take on the boardroom like the roadmapping star you are.