A PDF Interactive Logic Model

Sure, interactive sounds neat. But we're not quite ready for the whole web thing.

So the interactive logic model post was a big hit.  I kept getting a similar question, so I decided to create a short follow-up.

Here goes…I used icons from thenounproject, sketched it all out in Adobe Illustrator, and created the interactive prototype using Invision.


Interactivity can be accomplished a bajillion and one ways.  Some of those ways use free tools that make your information public.  Other ways keep everything away from the internet unless you decide to share.

There’s also lots of room between the two extremes.

Not in a position to share things on the internet?

Here is a PDF prototype that does the same thing.  I just broke my last prototype up into pages (could have started from scratch but this was quicker) and added a few in-document links.

This is just a prototype, a finished product would be much cleaner.  You can check it out here: PDF Interactive Logic Model

Screenshot of PDF logic model


Try not to get wrapped up in the tool.  Design is more about process than it is about tools.  There are lots of ways to do this kind of thing.

I’m curious, are you publishing on the web or still in pdf mode?  Do you find this type of approach appealing?


  1. Sophie on February 3, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I really like this and think it could definitely work in the development context. Its much better then the internet version because it can work in low internet areas, but it still remains interactive so people would engage.

    how did you turn the pdf into an interactive tool?

    • Chris Lysy on February 3, 2016 at 1:25 pm


      Or Acrobat. One of those 🙂

      There are actually a bunch of ways, staying with Adobe you can also use InDesign. You can also make interactive Power Points/Keynotes/Word documents/HTML documents (off-web versions).

  2. Melissa on February 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    We’ve been using interactive PDFs here and there and it’s funny that clients still don’t seem to get how awesome they are. We spend soooo much time thinking ‘how can I make this easier for them’, and then they just scroll through it like normal, in spite of the easy instructions at the top.

    There is a wonderful example in the AEA library if you want to see the PDF opportunities in more action. Search for ‘An Approach to Adding Simple Interactivity to PDFs to Enhance Evaluation Products and Practice’, a white paper by Dougherty and Anderson, that has interactivity. While they don’t explain how to do it (it’s more of a why) you can see how they function by opening it in Acrobat Pro, then click Tools, and then in Forms click Edit. It’ll highlight all the goodies and then you can mess around until it starts to make sense.

    It’s a great white paper, though I am still floored by your Invision model. I tried to figure out how to create my own and got really lost. So at least I have PDFs? Thanks Chris for always helping us add tools that we’d likely never find on our own. You’ve really helped invigorate how I provide to my team. 🙂

    • Chris Lysy on February 3, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      Yeah, I’m user experience focused so I prefer the invision. I find it feels more like a living document if you do it right, which is great during the evaluation planning process. Especially when you put comments on and do a bit of live user testing.

      PDFs have a way of feeling final, which can be good I guess if that’s the situation.

      I like interactives but it’s also always good to remember that clicks are also barriers. So if you create with an exclusive “you must click to explore” setup, you’ll lose a lot of readers. It’s why many mobile responsive websites really take advantage of scrollable design.

      • Melissa on February 3, 2016 at 1:44 pm

        Wonderful point! Must be a value ad, not an exclusive-only club.

      • Melissa on February 3, 2016 at 4:56 pm

        I just figured out how to use it. WOW. It’s like interactive PDF but ten times faster on set up. And folks can chime in and leave live comments? I’m hooked.

  3. Nikole on February 3, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for the great follow-up post, Chris. We find ourselves tackling interactivity both on the web and in pdf mode. Which mode is determined by our intended audience and the purpose.

    For those that are interested in learning more about the white paper we wrote that Melissa mentioned above (Thanks for the mention, Melissa!) you can find it here: http://cphss.wustl.edu/Products/ProductsDocuments/Papers_Lobb_Dougherty_et_al_2015_Adding_Interactivity_to_PDFs.pdf

    One of the examples we highlight in the white paper is using pop-up interactivity in logic models. We have found interactive PDFs helpful in engaging stakeholders, facilitating discussion, and making it just a more dynamic process.

    Chris, love the posts and look forward to your next one!

    • Chris Lysy on February 3, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks for sharing the link and the insight Nikole 🙂

    • Melissa on February 3, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      You betcha Nicole! Huge fan. 🙂

      • Melissa on February 3, 2016 at 4:54 pm

        NiKole. Sorry.

  4. Amanda Makulec on February 3, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    I agree with Sophie that this could be a great way to provide something that’s interactive in low bandwidth environments (assuming you can get a PDF to them).

    The advantages I see for the web-based approaches are that they tend to create a better experience for the reader/user (if designed well), and are more mobile/tablet friendly than going through a PDF.

    We’ve also used Prezi (which you can use in Prezi Desktop for a presentation if you have the pro version, available for a nominal annual fee) for developing graphics that you can view as a big picture (the forest) and then zoom in on the various details (the trees, if you will). That approach can be really helpful when you have a complex Theory of Change that you need to unpack for someone and not overwhelm them with a visual of all of the pathways.

    • Chris Lysy on February 3, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks for sharing Amanda 🙂

      All this talk about low bandwidth gives me an idea…