28 Feb

UPDATE – courses, quickies and connections

screenshot

I’m constantly pleased to see the number of organisations thinking about visual communication.

Over the last 6 months I’ve been busy with a series of “Influential Analysis” training courses for Understanding Modern Government, where I have been (hopefully) inspiring people to rethink how they communicate information both internally and externally.

Organisations attending the public courses, or booking in-house sessions, include various NHS trusts, Lincolnshire County Council and even the Department of Transport – all of them equally open and welcoming to new ideas for communicating their data.

I’ve been working with the brilliant Ian Taylor, from Flying Binary who is now taking over the courses. It’s been great working with him, and I’ve learnt a lot. I’d recommend signing up to the next public course if you’re battling with your data.

  ————————————-

screenshotOn the subject of training – I’m testing out an interesting new half-day workshop at Coventry City Council next month. This is a variation of my full-day Data Visualisation training course, but instead of delving into the theory, I’ll be spending 3 hours guiding them through the process of building an infographic from scratch.

I’m interest to see how this is received. I am always preaching that tools like Piktochart allow anyone to create “something” visual – but does it allow them to make something good? With my guidance, I hope so.

 ————————————-

I’m also keen to turn my focus back to my design work – which is my real passion. I’ve had a few long running projects on various back burners and these are now springing back into life.

I’m currently working with Lara Ratnaraja on a data-visualisation for the CATH (Collaborative Arts Triple Helix) project.

screenshot

This sees 3 sectors …

  • higher education institutions
  • small-medium enterprises
  • cultural organisations

… working together on a range of really interesting projects, and we want to show those collaborations on a data diagram for the project report. We’re dealing with around 50 organisations, so the trick is to make sure the full complexity of the project is demonstrated, without the chart appearing cluttered.

I’m planning to use RAW to generate an alluvial diagram (above) – but I need to have all the organisations grouped and categorised before I start. The organisations have received the groupings list today and we’re just waiting to get final approval on the copy.

  ————————————-

screenshotIt was also nice this week to receive a “quickie” request – in short, to create an infographic for a PR agency in Germany within 24 hours.

I don’t want to tempt fate (the graphic is currently with the client for approval) but the agency are pleased with the image, and glad I managed to get something turned around so quickly. I’ve normally shied away from this kind of work, but there is definitely a market for these “emergency infographics”!!

They provided all the information, which I shaped and edited down into a structured form that could be transformed into an A4 infographic.

 ————————————-

 Whether you’re after in-house data visualisation training, a data visualisation or something quick  – drop me an email – caroline at carolinebeavon.com

21 Feb

Information Designer for Hire: what to expect

Whilst organisations may have had experience working with graphics or branding designers in the past, the process to develop an infographic is very different.

screenshot

 

Ask any graphics designer who’s been asked to convert a 20 page report into an image, and chances are they’ll tell you that designing an infographic requires a whole new set of skills. I think of myself as a designer-meets-journalist-meets-number cruncher – as the content needs editing, selecting and crafting, and *then* designing.

Your input is vital to the success of the project – you know what you want and you know your industry – it’s up to you to point out the important information and decide on your message.

Here is a run down of the process structure I use:

[toc]

Initial Decision

So you’ve decided your company needs an infographic.

You may have a strong idea of what needs communicating (ie you’re end of year finances, a new process or a summary of your work) or you may have simply heard the word, and feel you should get on board.

Knowing what you want communicating (the concept as opposed to the specific content) is important and will save you time . It’s also worth thinking about a few key things, as they will be useful to know at the start of the process:

  • what are you trying to communicate? You can read more about this here
  • who is your audience? age, knowledge, gender, nationality
  • is this for online, print or both?
  • what is your deadline?
  • what is your budget?
  • do you have the information, or do you want me to source it?

You will be asked more questions as the process goes on but these are a good starting point.

Initial Contact

Normally via email or social media asking about prices and timescale

Much of my work comes in via email, Twitter or Linkedin – with a client contacting me with a tentative query about costings. It’s such a new area of design that the pricing structure is an unknown – and few designers (including myself) put prices on their websites. (This is because every job is different. Pricing is based on final output, amount of research required and how quickly you need it).

I’m usually happy to give a ballpark figure but always ask for more information before giving an official quote.

Many designers quote by the hour – I quote per job. I find this puts everyone at ease (including myself). Of course, I have contingency plans in place if the project spirals out of control through changes by the client – but these are explained fully with my initial quote.

I’ll give a full and detailed price quote once we have completed the next stage, the initial discussion.

First Discussion

An opportunity for us to set out initial ideas, and discuss the project in great depth

Your initial conversation with your infographic designer is key. It may be held face to face (my preference) or over the telephone. It’s your time to explain what you want, or be honest and say you don’t really know *what* you want. Make sure you have as much information as possible to hand.

Treat it like a first date – find out as much as you can about each other, the process and how each other works. From this you can decide if working together is right for you.

I may do some rough sketching (on an iPad) whilst we are talking, so we can make sure we understand each other.

Full Quote

 

Once I have a better understanding of the job, and we have worked out the basic aims and objectives, I will send over a final quote, before starting any work. You will be asked to sign a New Job Agreement form, which quotes the price and details of what the quote does (and doesn’t) include.

Depending on the size of the job/length of time it will take, I sometimes ask for 30% or 50% upfront.

First Drafts

A series of draft ideas to show you some options of layout and theme/styling

One we’ve had the initial discussions I’ll spend up to a week (depending on the amount of work you want) developing a series of options. Here I’ll be exploring 2 areas:

  • content layout
  • styling  / theme / concept

I will usually send 2/3 very different images (by PDF or image file), each one showing a different layout and theme, but you can mix and match if you prefer. Of course, you also have the option to scrap all 3 options, and offer feedback or guidance as to why you don’t feel they’re right.

These will not be fully completed images (the themes often develop over time) so I’d ask you to be prepared for some changes in the future and any temporary placeholder content in the image.

One you’ve selected a content layout and theme I will start work on the final image.

Work In Progress

An opportunity for you to see a part-completed image, and make sure you’re happy with the direction

As I said above, this is a collaboration, so I will be checking in with you as I design the final image. This could be for several reasons:

  • if I shift dramatically from the original image
  • if I want to confirm you are still happy with image
  • to avoid the disappointment of you not liking the final image

I may send whole images, or part of images to make sure you’re happy.

Final Proof Image

The final image – before spell-check and final tweaks, for you to approve

Once I’ve worked up a final image I sent it over for you to review. This image may still have typos, spelling errors and require more precise tweaking, but I always leave these until you are is 100% happy with the image (no point pixel-checking content that may change!)

You will then be asked to confirm the content, make any final changes (if major changes it will lead to further charges) and run it past their team (if necessary).

Proof-reading / final tweaks

I employ a proof reader to check final images in terms of spelling mistakes, statistics and grammar issues. If you stare at an image for so long, it’s easy for errors to slip through the net. I also ask you/your team to check the final information as well – the more eyes the better.

Once I’ve made any changes I will tidy the image up, make sure everything is aligned etc and prepare a final files for you (depending on their requirements)

Final Image

Final image is sent over and once you have given it the final OK, I will invoice for the full/balance amount.

 


17 Feb

Work in Progress: The Warriors plot-map

Intro

If you follow me on Instagram  you may have seen a picture I posted recently.

Warriors map

To most people it would have looked like a random arrangement of squiggles, lines and terrible sketches.

In fact it was a draft sketch of the plot of  The Warriors, a film that came out in 1979 (trailer)

The plot is set in a slightly-futuristic New York, where gangs in theatrical-costume uniforms roam the streets defending their turf. After being called to an all-gang powwow in the Bronx, the Warriors, from Coney Island have to make their way home with all the other gangs after their blood.

vignelli-map-1972What follows is their route south, to Coney, via the subway network and the highly controversial* 1972 Massimo Vignelli map (right) features heavily. (*the map was controversial as it followed the London underground style of being geographically inaccurate but focussed on connections within the system).

So boiling this down – the film is not only set over a series of locations (as with most films) but the specific locations are crucial, have different gangs attached to each area, and the movement between these areas is central to the plot.

—————

I’ve always admired highly detailed “infographics”, or information design – where extensive time has gone into turning something conceptual into a visual finished piece and I felt the location-centric Warriors plot would work well overlaid on the New York subway map.

However, it would not be enough to simply plot their route across the city, but i wanted to show the key clashes with the other gangs and key plot points.

I have since added another series of elements – key lines from the script at the relevant locations, and the route of the individual Warrior members, if they peel off from the rest of the gang, or are killed.

Minard

I was also inspired to use the same effect adopted in the Minard Napoleon campaign data visualisation – where the width of the line denoted the number of men in the army.

This diagram (left) shows the outgoing army via the brown line, as they march to Russia, with the returning army shows in black. The depleted numbers are clear. The diagram also shows how some peeled off from the rest of the group.

This is a great visualisation and very effective and I want to adopt a similar idea for my map – although in this case we have 9 “soldiers” depleted down to 6 (plus an addition).

This is still a work in progress, but here are a couple of screen-grabs of the work so far:

screenshotscreenshot

 

 

 

 

 

All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020