Sometimes you just know if a good idea is worth pursuing. It’s that instinctive gut feeling telling you, “yes this idea is worth pursuing”. Now if only everything in life was so straightforward and simple. So what about those times where the answer is a little less black and white? How do you know if an idea is worth pursuing?

Sometimes what may start out as a good idea ends up being scrapped. Today I wanted to share 5 questions that the design firm Column Five uses to help decide whether that idea is worth pursuing.

1. How is it relevant to your audience?

A good rule of thumb is if your audience doesn’t find what you’re talking about relevant, then it’s something probably not worth talking about. The way to avoid this is by identifying your target audience. Is it broad or niche? Are you targeting the entire internet or only people who are familiar with your brand?

Struggling with this exercise? Try what co-founder and creator of Column Five, Josh Ritchie, does: reverse-engineer the question. “Is your audience going to be interested in what you’re saying? Are they going to care about what you have to tell them?” The more specific your audience, the more targeted your messages can be. For example if you’re goal is to reach teenage boys who spent more than fifteen hours a week online, it’s safe to assume that a graphic on how electricity usage effects the environment won’t the job done. However as Ritchie points out, “honing in on a more audience-specific angle, such as how the electrical consumption of the world’s Diablo 3 servers affects the environment, will get their attention.” The goal here is to always keep your audience in mind and tailor content to suite them.

2. How does it help achieve your communication objectives?

What do you want to happen if you turn this idea into a piece of content? What’s your goal? Do you want people to sign up for a mailing list, buy your product, or share your content via social media? When vetting ideas, it’s always important to first establish your goals. This will help you decide which type of content is best suited to help you achieve these goals. Once you have a clear understanding of your objectives, “you’ll reduce the risk of coming up with arbitrarily interesting – or even useless – ideas.”

3. Will it enlighten or entertain?

Probably the most straightforward and easiest question of the bunch. When it comes to editorial content, the answer should be “yes” to at least one. A good rule to follow is that the most interesting and well-received graphics are those that enlighten or entertain. Think about the last graphic you enjoyed, odds are they probably left you with a little nugget of information or some kind of takeaway that you really enjoyed. Remember that people will become fans – and often customer – of brands that provide them of something of value.

4. Is the subject matter interesting?

Just because you’re interested in something doesn’t necessarily mean the next guy is. Everyone has hobbies and interests, but people often make the mistake of “not separating themselves from the content they want to produce.” So try to imagine yourself as a member of your audience and ask yourself “would they want to read your content?” Ritchie points out that it’s important to try and walk the line between informational and interesting, and overly dense and technical. Deciding on where that line lives, well that depends on your audience – “A focused look at something everyone deals with but no one understands? Perfect.”

5. How is your approach original?

If it’s been done already, how is your approach different and original? Think about what hasn’t been examined yet. Finding new and different ways to look at your subject are great ways to come up with facts that interest your audience. Ritchie puts it best by saying “If you want to be successful, your premise needs to be fresh.”

Have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? I’m all ears.