How I made that job aid: Maximizing with minimal space

In my previous job I designed instructional materials for clinicians learning the electronic medical record (EMR), the majority being nurses.  We would start classroom training about 8-10 weeks prior to implementation.  The switch was flipped and the system went live.  During those first few weeks, my team provided on-site support at the hospital, continually making rounds to see if each unit was having any issues with the EMR.  Part of this go-live support involved providing a paper job aid that could be carried around in a lab coat pocket.

As you can imagine there is only so much information that can fit on a card that size (approx. 3.5″ wide by 5.5″ tall).  One challenge I had while developing a job aid for surgical nurses was the number of screens they had to click through to complete their documentation.  I solved the problem by cropping like an Iowa corn farmer and layering the different steps.

Here is a screen shot of part of the final product.

Job Aid

And here is the process I used to create it in Microsoft Publisher.

  1. I listed the steps with as little text as possible.
  2. I then took screen shots of all of the separate steps.
  3. In Photoshop, I started with the first step and pared it down to the bare minimum, put a blue border around it, and added the yellow numbers to correspond with the stepped out list.
  4. I added a layer on top and put the second screen shot with border and numbers.
  5. I continued this process, layering the shots on top AND dropping them down so the viewer’s eye naturally flows down the page.

Using this process several times allowed me to put multiple screens of content onto a small pocket-sized job aid.

I ran across this quote from George Lucas a while back.  I really like how he describes the Star Wars universe and his role in it.

I am the father of our Star Wars (1977) movie world – the filmed entertainment, the features and now the animated film and television series. And I’m going to do a live-action television series. Those are all things I am very involved in: I set them up and I train the people and I go through them all. I’m the father; that’s my work. Then we have the licensing group, which does the games, toys and books, and all that other stuff. I call that the son – and the son does pretty much what he wants. Then we have the third group, the holy ghost, which is the bloggers and fans. They have created their own world. I worry about the father’s world. The son and holy ghost can go their own way.