What’s Miro … And How Does CDA Use it?

Jul 13, 2021

CDA’s Chief Process Officer, Kyle Chipman, coordinates process and brand content management. By setting guidelines for project communication and creating custom solutions tailored to each client’s specific needs, Chipman Design is able to guide the project through all stage gates –– and Kyle’s the guy who makes it happen. One of the main tools he uses is Miro, a platform for modern work, enabling collocated, distributed, and remote teams to communicate and collaborate across formats, tools, channels, and time zones — without the constraints of physical location, meeting space, and whiteboard. Trust us, it’s cool.

Still need convincing? Kyle shared some of the techniques that help him create a dynamic visual hierarchy for great-looking boards on Miro.

As Chief Process Officer at CDA, I am passionate about solutions and visual thinking.  Miro has refined the way I plan and conceive, developing stronger visual thinking while giving abstract concepts more defined, spatial relationships. It is the best.

Over the past five years, I’ve used the platform to map out various facets of CDA. From platform infrastructure and move planning to org charts and dashboards, the platform has proved invaluable in providing simpler reference to process-based ideas. All my time spent in Miro has borne out a wealth of (personal) best practices and time-saving techniques, built to give one’s workflow ease and elasticity. This post focuses specifically on the ways that shape defines visual hierarchy, along with time-saving mechanics in Miro that significantly speed up diagramming and documenting. 

The sequence of cognition

I picked this method up in Alina Wheeler’s book Designing Brand Identity, and it’s proven invaluable when creating layout and visual hierarchy. Shape, color, content – these three categories build the sequence of cognition, or the order in which we perceive information through visual perception. If you’re only using content (words) to convey meaning, you’re losing a ton of terrific opportunities for more nuanced and dynamic definition.

When you read shape, your thoughts might jump to circles and squares, but words and type provide a ton of shape opportunities all on their own, predominantly when placed in relationship to one another (e.g. you only see large by making small). The simplest shape differentiators for words and type include scale, line weight, line breaks and justification.

Board templates

Formatting presets

Creating a board template is a great first step in leveraging shape with words and type. If you start with the default 100%-zoom 14pt font, you’re left with very little zoom room to become more granular in your mapping and thinking. Your zoom can’t pull any closer than 400%, and the buttons that adjust size don’t go any lower than 10pt. So, 100% 14pt font just barely lets you go one layer deeper in thought and conceptualization.

Instead, I start my text at 48pt bold, centered and all caps.

Creating a template

Now that you have your text and object elements built, you’ll want to save them as a template for quick access when creating new boards. The first time you load up Miro, you’ll see the Template Library pop open at new board creation. If you’re like me, you immediately un-check the “Show when creating a new board” button early on, then feel like an idiot for ignoring it for years before realizing how useful it is. Good news: re-opening access to this template selection pane is a straightforward process.

Scaling techniques

Quickly and effectively scaling text has become indispensable to my Miro workflow.

Because the intervals of the font-size counter jump dramatically once you pass the 80pt mark, you’ll want to start manually adjusting the 80pt+ scale of the type by dragging the corner of the text frame.

These visual hierarchy methodologies based around shape are only the beginning. More advanced techniques, such as grouping and layers, object links and color will be covered in future posts. A firm grasp of these techniques and mechanics will significantly enhance the speed with which you can create boards and allow for more expansive and robust visualization.

For a more in depth look at Miro, including a real world case study, check out Kyle's full blog post over on Miro.