Customer Feedback: We Messed Up, Fixed It, and Discovered a SmartDraw Friend & Advocate


The only way to guarantee that your company creates a product or service that your customers will actually want to purchase, is to not only listen to your customers but act upon their feedback.  In today’s competitive business world we must be innovative.  The most innovative companies are the best at creating a products and services that not only meet customer’s needs, they exceed them.

Companies that are able to blend product development with customer feedback will have a strong competitive advantage leading to customer loyalty.  When René McCormick contacted us with her feedback, we not only improve our product we discovered a SmartDraw friend and advocate!

René’s letter began with . . .

Greetings, I am the Executive Director of Science Programs at The National Math and Science Initiative in the US, and I’ve been a huge fan of SmartDraw since it first came out.  More importantly I generate all sorts of diagrams for our curricular materials and am not complaining about your product in any way. In fact, I was recommending your software to a colleague and stumbled upon this diagram on your website as an example of a “chemistry chart.”

Oh, my!  The only correct thing about the “ice” pictured on your site is that red is indeed the color assigned to oxygen in most chemistry art (and molecular model kits) and that oxygen “atoms” would be much larger than hydrogen “atoms”.  The rest of the drawing is fraught with misconceptions…

[Rene continues with detailed instructions as to how to improve the diagram found in the SmartDraw Template Library].

By the end of her letter . . .

I’d be happy to preview any future science art for you.  I’m a biology, chemistry and physics nerd + have a staff of 3 other science nerds.  Believe me, we’ve made our fair share of goofs over the years ourselves.  I’d just rather hear about my goof from a friend/colleague!

Collaborating with René

In an effort to rectify the situation, we had a member of our SmartDraw team take the information René provided and developed a new and improved Chemistry Diagram.   To ensure that the appropriate changes were made, we reached out to René for her final sign-off on the diagram.  Here are the “before” and “after” diagrams.

before_after chem diagram

In addition, to sharing her expertise, René was gracious enough to meet with us to share her SmartDraw experience since she started drawing with SmartDraw in 2003.

Can you tell us about your background and expertise?

I was recruited to join the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), as the Director of Standards and Quality in 2007, its inaugural year. Since that time, I established their academic standards, developed curriculum for Advanced Placement (AP) courses in each area of science and developed teacher training for teachers of AP courses. Today, I am the Executive Director of Science Programs. As a whole we have more than doubled the number of students taking rigorous, college-level classes in math, science and English at participating schools.

René has taught AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics. She was a member of the AP Chemistry Test Development Committee from 1999-2001-the committee which writes the AP Chemistry Exam.  Her syllabus is currently published in the AP Teacher’s Guide and she authored the chapter on using technology in the AP Chemistry classroom.  Additionally, René serves on the Science Academic Advisory Council for the University of Texas at Arlington and teaches a Physics Science Education course there.

What exactly is it that you do?

I oversee the entire AP & Pre-AP science curriculum for the NMSI.  We give grants to schools all over the United States with the simple goal of having more students enrolled in AP math, AP science and AP English courses AND having more Qualifying Scores (3’s, 4’s and 5’s on a 1-5 grading scale) on AP exams.  We call it our College Readiness Program.  In addition, we also train teachers in Pre-AP as well and that’s is our Laying the Foundation Program.”

Why take the time to provide us with your feedback?

I just want your product to be the best it can be since I recommend it regularly!

Can you give us an idea of the types of diagrams that you typically create with SmartDraw?

Here (below) are a handful of drawings from our work with the AP Chemistry Redesign.  These images appear in either our lecture notes or as answers to test questions since the redesign emphasizes “conceptual” drawings and such drawings are now going to appear on AP Science Exams.  Considering, I have ZERO artistic ability, your software has been a godsend for me!

Sample of original SmartDraw diagrams, used in the AP Chemistry curriculum that were designed and created by René

Rene_McCormick_Sample_DiagramsAbout NMSI “National Math + Science Initiative was formed to address one of this nation’s greatest economic and intellectual threats – the declining number of students who are prepared to take rigorous college courses in math and science and are equipped for careers in those fields. To flourish in the 21st Century, the United States must continue to generate intellectual capital that can drive the economic engine of our future prosperity. This crucial project was initiated as a public-private partnership, led by private donors such as Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation,” as noted on the NMSI website.


How do you incorporate your diagrams when designing and developing curriculum?

I’ve been using SmartDraw to draw scientific “art” in test questions as well as laboratory exercises and science “lessons” since 2003. 

What types of projects are you currently using SmartDraw for?

More recently the AP Science exams have been redesigned, thus we had to write all new assessment materials for our teachers with an emphasis on “particulate matter” drawings, such as your “frozen water” melting drawing.”

Why use SmartDraw for your diagramming needs?

It was when I was heading up the writing team for the Laying the Foundation program that I discovered your product.  I needed to draw circuit diagrams, flasks, beakers, etc. and had a very small budget, so I had to learn to do it myself.  SmartDraw was a lifesaver!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Thanks for making such a good product that is very affordable and has served us well for many, many years!”