Category Archives: Design

18 Sep

Anatomy of an Infographic: CATH project flow diagram

This series of blog posts will go behind-the-scenes of some of my favourite portfolio pieces, revisiting the challenges and solutions. 


INTRO: Yes, it’s busy and overwhelming but I love this piece I designed in 2014 for a collaborative arts project in Birmingham.

BACKGROUND: The project, headed up by a team from University of Birmingham, saw 3 types of organisations come together into smaller project groups to essentially ‘see what they could come up with”. Academics would bring a research capability, SME’s would perhaps offer technical services or design skills and SCOs (Small cultural organisations) would bring cultural awareness and challenges.

BRIEF: my brief was to create a diagram that truly captured the complexity and challenges faced by the project and to give a feeling of chaos moving into organisation.

THE DATA: I was given a Word document table, with a row for each group with the name of each SCO, SME and Higher Education representative in that group.

THE PROCESS

  • Expand the data: The data was a useful starting point but I felt there was more interesting data to be uncovered by getting more specific. By drilling down into each individual participant, I uncovered more data and develop a hierarchy / categorisation of everyone involved. So a lecturer from Birmingham University was given a more specific categorisation based on his specialism – e.g. Humanities > History. SME’s and SCO’s were similarly broken down into more specific sub-categories.
  • Structure the data: Whilst I had added new layers to the information, I also had limited space in which to present it, so I had to go through a round of merging and rethinking in order to create some smaller groupings. I also wanted to get data-sign-off before starting the design stage, as it would be much harder to change later on. I used a wireframing app (e.g. Draw.io or xDiagram (mac)) to create a basic flow chart which the client could easily understand. It was also important for each participant to approve their categorisation – this was to be a permanent record of the project and we needed buy-in from everyone involved. These basic wireframes of each sector were sent to the relevant participants for their comment. As you can imagine there were some changes with some valuable feedback and suggestions. By the end of this process I had a spreadsheet with each participant on a different row, with maximum 4 layers of detail for each one, plus their outcome project title.
  • Create the basic diagram:  I used RAW (http://rawgraphs.io/) to create a basic alluvial diagram. Whilst a complete mess it was simply a starting point and once imported into Illustrator as an SVG it was incredibly useful.
  • Finalise the diagram: At this point I realised that the left hand side of the chart required a more hand-drawn approach, whilst the right could rely more heavily on the output from RAW. This had the additional benefit of capturing another element of the project. The tree-branch feel on the left represented the human, natural unstructured growth of the participants, but when pulled together they produce a more digital, structured outcome. I spend considerable time in Illustrator developing the left and side of the chart in order to distribute the ‘chaos’ and ‘twists’ evenly, but also aid comprehension.

 

 

14 Feb

Infographics? Infovisuals? Stop and think

buttons-01-150x150

Visual communication is nothing new.

Man has been daubing on walls and scratching into rock for centuries. Whether it’s “5 Ways to Catch and Skin a Deer” or “The River Styx: Everything You Need to Know”, visual representations of information have been the simplest way to pass information from one person to another.

Nowadays, the data explosion has meant there is not only more information to be conveyed, but an increased demand for access and understanding. We want price checks, reviews and evidence before we hand over our money and companies have to work harder to gain our loyalty. There’s also the decrease in trust of power – public organisations have to be transparent, as each member of the public becomes as hungry for facts and proof as the most voracious reporter of the past. Add the internet and especially social media into the mix and you have the perfect transportation method for this information.

Of course, with every shift in human consciousness, there are those who misunderstand, misuse and abuse this shift. The demand for infographics has reached fever pitch and organisations are now jumping on this dangerously overcrowded bandwagon.

If you’re one of those people thinking, “we need to get visual” but aren’t sure how or why – read on.

 

What are you visualising?

buttons-02-150x150I’ve been approached by organisations in the past who want infographics creating, but have no idea what the content will be. They’d simply heard the phrase and wanted a piece of the action.

Your visual communication must be driven by content. Would you write a press release or blog post, with no idea at the start what it’s for? Of course not. An infographic or data visualisation must be part of your overall communication message.

If you’d like to use visuals, take a look at your current projects. What kind of information are you dealing with?

For example, are you dealing with numbers/stats, the most common form of content for visual communication? Charts and data visualisation are tried and tested methods of explaining numbers. Great for showing prices, budget cuts, population counts and user demographics.

Perhaps you have location data. Maps are the most obvious way of communicating geographical data, as we understand how maps work and can instantly put ourselves into the picture – we can see how the data will affect us directly. New store locations, country of origin of products, transportation routes all work well mapped.

timeMany organisations overlook the third type of data: time and dates. Visit a museum and you’ll probably come across a timeline – again, a tool that allows us to put concepts into a visual form for us to understand. If you’re trying to explain the growth of your company, future development plans for an area or a events schedule, a timeline allows the user to access this data in a logical way.

There is another form of data that does not fall into any of these categories, but often requires the most explanation: systems and processes. How your company is structured, how that process works or why that thing happened. Flow diagrams and mindmaps can be useful tools to turn that understanding into something that anyone could follow.

Of course it could be a mix of these – showing stats on a map or the timescale of a process – and this is where infographics and data visualisations get really interesting.

 

Who is Your Audience?

Spending some time considering your audience will help you pick the right tool for the job. No point using an interactive online only tool if you target audience are not computer users. Of course, infographics and data visualisations can work well in print, whether that’s billboards, posters or flyers – it’s just worth thinking who they are before you start designing.

So here are a few questions to ask yourself about your reader

  1. what do they want from your visual? Why are they engaging with it?
  2. How old are they? You’ll use a different visual for young people and adults
  3. where are they? Reading online? In a doctors surgery? Different attention span, different tool – think
  4. What prior knowledge do they have? Avoid confusing them, but also don’t be condescending.
  5. What are their literacy/numeracy levels? Can you rely on text and stats, or does it need to be simpler than that?
  6. What will they think? You’ll use a different approach to announce job cuts than to promote your new product.
  7. What is their starting point? If you’re mapping libraries in your town, what will they use to search – will they necessarily know the library name or their “ward”? Think about how they’ll interact with your information

 

Why are you doing this?

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What story are you trying to tell with the information? As with a press release, there is something you are trying to get across. Are you announcing some new plans? Is there budget cut information you need to explain?

Each set of data will contain key information – this has probably sparked the idea for a visual in the first place – so make sure your visual tells that story clearly.

Then there’s the message – it may be that you’re not conveying any opinion or feeling on the data – or perhaps you need to make sure you appear sympathetic about those job cuts, or excited about the new product announcements. Either way, you need to make sure that tone is clear through design decisions and tool choice.

The final consideration is action – specifically, what do you want the reader to do? An anti-littering infographic will have the aim of encouraging them to use the rubbish bins. Perhaps you want them to think less harshly of your organisation, or simply understand the situation a little better. Make sure you keep this intended action at the front of your mind when developing your visuals.

 

Caroline Beavon is a freelance infographic and data visualisation designer. She has worked with local authorities and charities offering information design solutions to comms teams across the UK.

11 Sep

> NOTES from Reasons To … conference Brighton, 2016

In Sept 2016 I attended the Reasons To … conference in Brighton, UK.

Read more about the conference here

During the 3 days I jotted notes, ideas and references into a large Moleskine. Worried my notes may make less sense over time, In’ve transcribed them below. Enjoy.


Key

person to find / follow etc.

noun_book_3698 book/ article

imgreswikipedia link

noun_magnifier_607246 something to search

noun_texting_545094 random notes

noun_thought-bubble_544954 my thoughts / questions

noun_image_600408 Image / photo reference

noun_link_334254 website link

noun_note_113110 music / band

noun_arrow_6641 Action / do something

noun_help_89606 random / unknown / huh?

noun_image_600408 image

noun_video_553947 video


 

Nelly Ben (speaker) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelly_Ben_Hayoun / http://nellyben.com/

noun_book_3698Paul Virillo  Open Sky

noun_book_3698Roland Barthes – Mythologies

noun_book_3698 Willam Borroughs – Invisible Generation (PDF here)

imgresInvisible Generation  – associated art project

noun_magnifier_607246 ‘critical design’

noun_magnifier_607246‘Theatre of Cruelty’

noun_thought-bubble_544954 UX design of infographics – how much can we challenge the reader? Why does everything have to be easy for the reader? Could we convey additional emotion / understanding by making a layout challenging / longwinded / complicated etc?

noun_texting_545094 Total Bombardment – Nellys approach to her work

noun_thought-bubble_544954 infographics in every field – using the communication through their visuals

 

noun_image_600408 Diagram of Greek Tragedy Diagram of Greek Tragedy

 

noun_link_334254http://www.howmanypeopleareinspacerightnow.com/

noun_note_113110 International Space Station music with Sigor Ros

noun_link_334254 Disaster Playground

noun_video_553947   Disaster Playground Teaser from Disaster Playground on Vimeo.

noun_note_113110 find Disaster Playground soundtrack from Prodigy

noun_link_334254 The Life The Sea and the Space Viking


 

 Charlie Prangley (Charlie Marie)

noun_help_89606 img_5097

 

noun_thought-bubble_544954 Be a hungry designer – appetite creates more impact?

noun_magnifier_607246 Atomic Agency, Holland

noun_texting_545094 plotting and scheming – contemplation, collaborative, new practices, explore, impact

noun_thought-bubble_544954 Am I hungry? Do I know any hungry designers?

noun_arrow_6641  Go to a design meetup – meet agencies

noun_texting_545094 Step 1 – collaborate

noun_texting_545094 Step 2 – reduce confirmation bias (throw away our comfortable ideas that we like. Do rapid ideation. Rapid prototyping

noun_texting_545094 Step 3 – embrace centre stage – trust, responsibility, bigger budgets

noun_arrow_6641 Look for a digital prototyping tool? Do i need one? Or are post-it notes perfect?

noun_texting_545094 the struggling designer – no prototyping. don’t get attached to your own ideas

noun_texting_545094 prototyping lets you work out your UX/UI and layout

noun_thought-bubble_544954 am i afraid of failure?

noun_texting_545094 Failure is progress

noun_thought-bubble_544954 How do I repackage failure? Process fullsizerender-3 – share, test – ideate – repeat

noun_magnifier_607246 John Lieberman – conference talk on UX tools – shaping design

noun_texting_545094 dopey ideas. Embrace them. How crazy are they?

noun_magnifier_607246 Cheltenham Design festival – is this still a thing?

noun_thought-bubble_544954 Do I have dopey ideas? DO i share the,? I need to create the environment to share them

noun_texting_545094 Plussing – when you give positive feedback to have to give constructive advice as well


 

 Gavin Strange

noun_note_113110 Doomtree

noun_link_334254 Strangebristol.com

noun_thought-bubble_544954 DO I want to do what I do?

noun_arrow_6641 I should explore and have more fun in evenings and weekends. Take a week off every month to play and explore?

noun_magnifier_607246 Do lectures – Do Fly – Gavin Strange

noun_arrow_6641 motion graphics – try something fun and silly

noun_magnifier_607246 Mister Cartoon?

noun_arrow_6641 develop a consistent process which can be applied to all projects. Calendar template? Is this possible?

noun_texting_545094 example template – research, brainstorm (word association), thumbnail sketching, detailed sketching vector drawing


 

 Erik Kessels

noun_thought-bubble_544954 charts as illustrations- bars of bar chart amongst letters?

noun_thought-bubble_544954 I need to bring more heart into my infographics. Oxfam – emotion? Or does that add a judgement that I should be avoiding? Where is the heart in infographics and data?

noun_arrow_6641 redesign some old work with heart and soul – perhaps some Tableau dashboards

noun_texting_545094 humour and heart – show heart, show love, show data – show and tell. Can I use design to instil an emotion? Should it always be easy?

 

noun_arrow_6641 What other emotions can I generate through graphic design? Anger, confusion, happiness, a sense of time, a sense of length

noun_magnifier_607246 Hans Brickler hotel chain – Amsterdam

noun_thought-bubble_544954 e.g. School data – not emotive, gun data – highly emotive

noun_arrow_6641 who do I want to work with?

noun_pencil_7115img_5100 sketch using the length of the page to show distance travelled etc. Walk to water


 

noun_thought-bubble_544954 What is my USP? What are my core skills?

noun_arrow_6641 find a career mentor

noun_magnifier_607246 Mr President agency

 Laura Jordan Bambach – laurajaybee

noun_magnifier_607246 Great british Diversity Experiment

noun_magnifier_607246 Papel and Canota

noun_magnifier_607246Caant festival

noun_magnifier_607246 Tandem Bank – credit card design  – https://tandem.co.uk/


noun_magnifier_607246 Bauhaus design

Jim Flora designer – Gene Krupe

noun_magnifier_607246 Blab magazine – 88 – 2001

noun_magnifier_607246 NO brow publishers

noun_magnifier_607246 Yokkai – japanese spirits and demons

noun_thought-bubble_544954 editorial infographics – how do I go about getting work like this?

noun_arrow_6641 promote previous editorial infographics


noun_texting_545094 editorial infographics but need some characterisation –  do they?

noun_arrow_6641 follow up fairy tales infographics – cards? Simple cards

noun_arrow_6641 Xmas cards – get these done – xmas stories?

noun_thought-bubble_544954 fairy tales rely on repetition – do we lose that if we try to restructure the story?

noun_arrow_6641 try collage infographics – cut outs, amongst charts

noun_pencil_7115half a butterfly as a bubble chart – fullsizerender-4

 

 

noun_magnifier_607246 Pleix / lyric

noun_arrow_6641 Try ink drops / water drops as bubble charts – water growth stains – can I build these

noun_arrow_6641 try putting scanned images in tableau  -collage in Tableau? Transparency may be a problem

noun_arrow_6641 try using real things to make charts, sugar, salt, etc


noun_magnifier_607246awkward sisters

noun_magnifier_607246 game “papers Please”

noun_magnifier_607246 profaniti arcade pop up

noun_arrow_6641 do a digital content strategy

noun_magnifier_607246 kernel cards – kickstarter – nice idea to try?

 Nadiah Brehmer

noun_arrow_6641 create planets diagram . Moving in Tableau fullsizerender-5

noun_arrow_6641 buy a spirograph

noun_link_334254 visualcinnamon.com

 Kate Greenstock – creative director

noun_magnifier_607246 festish my little pony

 Abi Small

noun_magnifier_607246 cblock and flow

noun_arrow_6641 Tableau graphic with speech bubbles where the text inside changes depending on the selection

noun_magnifier_607246 dead men don’t wear plaid – film

noun_arrow_6641 music in tableau – can you convert music into numbers?

noun_magnifier_607246 combinatronics


 

noun_note_113110 Seb Lester Super Sharp Shooter –


noun_video_553947  SQUAREPUSHER / Damogen Furies

from Joshua Davis on Vimeo.

noun_link_334254 https://www.behance.net/joshuadavis

noun_note_113110  Photogram

noun_thought-bubble_544954 can you do quick animation in Tableau? (play pages)

noun_magnifier_607246 check out the OFFF Quebec opening credits

noun_arrow_6641 neon skeleton – black background

noun_arrow_6641 can you use tableau to reveal an imagine below – black squares which change as you roll over items

noun_arrow_6641 can you map music in tableau? Can you even play / embed music in tableau

noun_arrow_6641explore turning music into numbers in a spreadsheet

noun_note_113110 Zola Jesus

noun_arrow_6641 add textured over a tableau infographic / half tone?

 

06 Jul

Pink for girls and blue for boys

Every time I need to create a gender-related chart, i.e. the number of men or women doing XYZ and I need to use colour to define between them, I always ask the same question?

Should I automatically use pink for girls and blue for boys?

There are a dozen reasons why not – and I’d prefer not to get into a gender debate here (there are more suitable locations for that sort of debate).

However, when creating charts it’s important to keep things simple and ask as little as possible of the reader. In this case – should be expect the reader to re-align their assumptions about colours, and have to work out that, for example, green is male and orange female?

Chart A – gender-stereotype arguments aside, it’s clear in this chart what the colours represent. 

Pink Blue chart A

Chart B – we’re now expecting the reader to not only “de-programme” their assumptions about colour, but also use the key to work out which is which. 

Pink Blue chart B

A few thoughts:

  • i guess we should all start “de-programming” ourselves and getting out of the habit of automatically using pink for girls and blue for boys. By continuing to use those colours, we are perpetuating the problem
  • How do we speed up the processing of the chart, and remove this extra step of looking at the key.
  • Do we come across the same problems with the male and female “toilet” symbols – yes, we understand what they mean, but again, do they cause issues?
  • Also, this chart is MUCH harder to read as we are having to analyse the “shape” of the markers (which are very similar), instead of the colour.

pink blue chart - icons

Comments are sadly closed due to spamming issues, but I’d love to know your thoughts via the social media buttons you can find on the right!

Thanks

 

03 Jul

Brand Guidelines and Infographics

I’ve been considering the relationship between brand guidelines and infographics recently.  I’d love your thoughts on this – tweet me!

A lot of infographics created today are wholly standalone from the rest of the company’s materials.

Is this right? Should infographics be 100% branded, partially or not at all?

(of course, it depends on the use, right?)

In my experience there are 3 potential scenarios:

  1. client wants the infographic to strictly adhere to their brand guidelines
  2. client would like fonts and colours used correctly, but is open about design style
  3. client want’s something completely different to their brand guidelines

 

Scenario 1 – a client will furnish me with their data, creative brief and brand guidelines. They are insistent that all fonts, colours and logos are used as stated and want an infographic that fits wholly within their communication materials.

I can understand my some organisations would want to maintain a clean, consistent brand: especially if it’s particularly strong. The infographics would be easily recognisable as being from that organisation. They can be used in presentations, reports and alongside other communication materials whilst maintaining a united approach.

However, is there a risk of the infographic appearing too-corporate?  If the company has a fun brand style, then it may work well as an infographic. However, a more traditional, staid, (dare we say it boring?) brand could end up looking like a corporate presentation. If you’re trying to reach a new audience, for example younger or more ‘hip”, this brand may not work in this case.

 

Scenario 2 – this tends to be smaller clients, or those who do not have a defined creative “look” for their organisation. They may not be in the creative or tech industries (i.e. engineering or manufacturing) and are less concerned with their corporate identity.

In these cases I tend to lean towards using the colours in their logo. As they are less defined about their brand, I would want anything I create to fit, in some way if only colour, with their other communication materials.

The risk here is that the client develops a disjointed approach. Yes, the infographic may have been effective in it’s own right – and perhaps that’s enough. However, if the client is considering using the infographic long term, or developing their corporate brand, it may be wise to spend some time thinking about the overall look and feel of the organisation and bring the infographic in line with that.

 

Scenario 3 – I have had clients who have wanted to try something completely new and move far away from their corporate identity. This tends to be more traditional organisations who recognise that their brand is either not suited to the infographic or would not be well-received by the public.

I am yet to come across a client who wants an infographic without their logo (although I can imagine a public body, for example, may want the focus to be on the message, not on the organisation behind it!)

Organisations that have a range of audiences, i.e. a local council may want to reach out to different people at different times, so would want a range of design approaches.

 

Surely the audience should come first. If they would respond positively to the clients brand then use it, if not, perhaps go another way?

29 Jun

Sunday Mirror – Justice on Trial supplement

Last weekend I was incredibly proud to see a series of my infographics appear in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

I had been commissioned to work on the graphics, in collaboration with the Ampp3d data journalism team and the editorial staff at the newspaper.

I think it’s fair to say it’s my most high-profile piece of work to date, and the staff at the paper were incredibly pleased with the results!

You can see a few of the pages below:

Sunday Mirror  - Justice on Trial page 2 and 3

Sunday Mirror - Justice on Trial supplement page 12 and 13

Sunday Mirror - Justice on Trial page 14 and 15

Sunday Mirror - Justice on Trial page 22 and 23

 

23 May

Accessible Infographics: information for everyone?


 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

linkedin

 


PLEASE NOTE: This is a work-in-progress blog post. It would be great to get any feedback or thoughts via the social networks (links right) as I write the remaining sections. I am also posting some questions throughout the article, if you know the answer, do let me know! 

By definition, infographics contain information. Organisations are using them to explain systems, demonstrate data and make arguments. They have become so popular that many organisations are relying on them, and forgoing written text.

[toc]

Why Infographics?

Infographics are generally a great way to get information out there. The visual form can help people understand complex information and retain the facts. With attention spans ravaged by social media, you’re also more likely to get an audience to engage with an image than a block of text.

Whilst diagrams have long been the default method for explaining data or complex systems, the rise of the internet and social media has meant that infographic images can be shared and viewed at a fast rate. As organisations struggle to be heard over the noise, they are adopting new ways to make their information stand out.

 

Why Accessibility?

Infographic image showing that 1 in 30 people in the UK are living with sight loss

According to the RNIB, almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss. That’s approximately one person in 30. 

That’s a lot of people not getting your information if you ONLY use infographics to communicate.

Any organisation, but especially those delivering public services, really do need to think carefully about these issues.

Further more, if your organisation has an older audience, the statistics are even more sobering, with a fifth of 75+ yr olds and half of 90+ yr olds living with sight loss. That’s a huge percentage of your audience who simply aren’t getting the information.

1 in 5 75yr olds and over are living with sight loss. Half of all 90+ are.

 

Visually Impaired Online?

It’s worth remembering a couple of things:

  • not all visually impaired people are completely sightless
  • visually impaired people (even those with no sight) ARE accessing the internet

So we ned to not only think about HOW we design the infographics so more people can access them, but also come up with alternative ways to present the information so it’s not all hidden in an image.

Also, remember, the internet is now not only the domain of the young. More and more elderly people are getting online to shop, maintain friendships, pay bills etc. Therefore any infographics you do use need to carefully considered.

 

Accessible Infographics – a few ideas

I’ll admit, this is a new area for me, but I wanted to look into it as it has been raised several times over the past few weeks, most recently by a Twitter user in response to a blog post I had written:

 

This was the first time I had directly come in contact with someone raising the issue of accessibility of infographics, hence this blog post and it really made me think.

This podcast is well worth a listen: UX Podcast on accessible infographics 

 

Design


This section will cover both a way to design an infographic that is open to reader software, but also further down, how to think about the design you do use, to assist people with poor vision or colour blindness.  

Text Version

An interesting example here from the Washington Post (discovered in a blog post by Derek Featherstone) – a text infographic. Click the screengrab below and see that the text is actually text, not flattened into an image.

Screen grab of a Washington Post article which uses readable text

 

How was this created? is it HTML?

Do we lose some share-ability here? Yes the link is shareable but is the power of the infographic in the visual impact?

 


 

Not all people with a visual impairment are completely blind. Therefore, with some considerate designing, images could still be helpful.

People will poor eyesight may still be able to see your images, with the help of zooming tools, for example. However, infographics are often designed to be viewed as a whole image. Navigation is based on layout and style, so you can easily see where the next set of information is. If you’re zoomed right in, this navigation becomes harder if you can’t see the next header on your screen.

Colours

colour blindness –

Tableau blogpost

contrasting colours

content coming soon

Layout

hierarchy

navigation

content coming soon

Fonts

content coming soon

 

Alternative Information


Description

Nowadays there are plenty of tools that can help people with visual impairments use the internet. Screen readers will turn text into audio so everyone can get access to the information. However, most infographics are images which cannot be read by screen readers.

However, the rise of visual graphics has meant that some organisations are using these static “flat” images (where the text is not readable) as the ONLY means of conveying their message.

I’ve seen campaigners as for image descriptions on social media (Blog post) – so if a photo is shared, accompanying text gives a very brief insight into the image to allow visually-impaired people the chance to share in the emotions. I think that’s a great idea and has certainly made me reconsider how I share images online.

When it comes to sharing infographics, it would be impossible to convey all the information in 140 characters (in the case of Twitter) or without resorting to the swathes of text the infographic has replaced.

I’d suggest we post at last SOME text with an infographic, but they so often get separated from their original location, this may be redundant.

I know that my infographics have normally stemmed from a succinct list of statistics and information from the client. Could THIS be cleaned up and posted online for people who use screen readers? I would certainly be happy to offer this as part of my wider infographics design service.

Spreadsheets

Data visualisations bring about their own set of accessibility problems.

I recently worked on a very complex diagram for an arts project, which featured lots of lines and small (and often curved:) text. It was designed to be purposely complex, but would be very difficult for some people to access.

However, the data visualisation itself was based on a simple 10 column / 50 row spreadsheet.

It seemed logical to be to have this spreadsheet posted as a link near the infographic, so anyone would be able to access it – see example below from the Agency for Healthcare. Research and Equality).

screenshot

However, what kind of tables can be read by “reading” software, what formatting is needed etc?

I contacted the RNIB for their thoughts. Their usually useful website is being refurbished so they kindly sent me a document of the pages currently offline, and information used to advise their staff. The document can be RNIB advice on Excel spreadsheets, and includes these pointers:

Top ten accessibility pointers

  • Break down complex data sets into logical tables ideally with their own worksheets. New tables should be created on separate worksheets to aid navigation and understanding.
  • Reserve the first worksheet for a contents or index page.
  • Use Clear Print guidelines for text and data.
  • Insert all text and data within a logical path that a keyboard only user would take. As a general rule keyboard users will navigate down from cell A1 until the table is reached.
  • Empty cells within a table should be marked as such with a minus sign, a zero or N/A for not applicable as appropriate.
  • Adjust cell height and width to ensure all text that you want to appear is visible in your spreadsheet.
  • Add text descriptions and Alt text to charts and graphics.
  • Avoid using visual devices such as colour, shading, patterns and borders to divide up data regions.
  • Avoid merging data or header cells. Merged cells cause navigation problems and will not be read correctly if they contain row or column headers.
  • Always save your spreadsheet with the focus on cell A1 unless you want to draw attention to a specific cell.

Interactivity

During the UX Podcast UX Podcast on accessible infographics,  Derek Featherstone suggested (if time allow) making infographics interactive. However I am still not clear if tools like Tableau are accessible.

 

 

Metadata

Blogging tools do make it easier to add metadata to your images – for example alternative text, that a screen-reader can relay to the user.

This article by Web Aim suggests alt tags should:

  • be accurate and equivalent
  • be succinct
  • NOT be redundant
  • NOT use the phrase “image of … ” or “graphic of … ” to describe the image

Click through to the link for more details.

For infographics these are not so useful. Infographics can contain a lot of information and it would be difficult to put this information into the meta data without losing context.

Furthermore, many infographics are shared via social media – where there appears to be no metadata option.

QUESTION: How do screen readers cope with social networks like Facebook/Twitter? Are images titles “read”?

Other Information

content coming soon

Equality Act 2010

 

 

 

 

09 May

My Week – 5-9 May 2014 / big screens, walls and audiences


 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

linkedin


It’s been another one of those funny short bank Holiday weeks – but here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been working on in the infographics design world, and training!

SCIENCE CAPITAL

On Tuesday night I spoke at the Science Capital “Doing Business With Data event at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

The focus of my talk was Presenting Your Big Data, where I was keen to stress the importance of thinking about the audience. Highly technical and numerate crowds often forget that the people they’re communicating with may not understand data as well as they do. It’s important to engage the audience, connect with them, help them understand, reveal the data through navigation and allow the audience to make their own discoveries through exploration. You can see my slides here

Ahead of the event I was collared for a quick interview with Paige from The Information Daily. The interview may be appearing on the Information Daily website soon – I’ll share the link when it goes up!

The presentation was delivered on the Giant Screen at Millennium Point which I wasn’t a huge fan of – no slides look good at that scale and some of the audience looked a little too comfy in those big cinema seats!

I did get the change to have an interesting discussion with Vernon Blackmore about the use of infographics and diagrams in academic documents. Several organisatons are still reliant on heavy text and documentation. A phD student (Stuart?) who joined our chat admitted that his attention span was low and he struggled to tackle weighty tomes! Vernon suggested that there could be some greater encouragement of visual communication within academia, where students are encouraged to  demonstrate their learning through diagrams instead of text, and he’s already recommending tools like Infogr.am to help them present their information!

MYSTERY CLIENT X

(image The Happy Show at Design Exchange, Toronto)

I’ve also spend quite a bit of time this week researching environmental graphic design after a potential client asked be to quote for creating a wall-based infographic for their new building.

tumblr_mh54gyjDGa1r9ewdgo1_1280This is an interesting area. Museums and galleries are already adept at using their space to relay information but until now my experience has been either on a flat surface (paper or online) or in an animated interactive space (touch table).

The added challenge with this brief was to allow the infographic to be up-dateable on a regular basis (ie monthly) as the statistics change.

After seeing her speak at the Design Festival in Cheltenham, I was taken with Morag Myerscough/Studio Myerscough‘s huge scale graphics, and have been inspired by her use of text, colour and usability.  You can see some of the images I’ve pulled together as part of this research on Pinterest

The job would include actually putting the infographic onto the wall, so I’ve also been looking into various techniques for adding lettering and design to a surface – ie vinyl letters, stencils etc.

Fingers crossed the client likes the ideas I sent over!

CUC – Creating Usable Content

I’m in Cardiff next week delivering an Infographics workshop for the Creating Usable Content event. I’ll be travelling down with one of my co-tutors, Pete Ashton, on the Sunday night and spending all of Monday delivering the course several times over.

This will be a much-condensed version of a half-day infographics workshop I held at Coventry City Council a few weeks ago.

My aim for the 50 minute workshop is to guide group through the infographics process! Now as this usually takes a couple of days it’s going to be quite fast paced, but I’ve already prepared the information and will be using it to help everyone learn the important of sorting your content and thinking about your audience!

OTHER PROJECTS

I have a couple of other projects bobbling along nicely right now – I’m working on Sampad’s My Route project, where we’re developing an interactive touch table app to allow people to explore the history of the Stratford Road in Birmingham.

I’m also in the very early stages of writing an e-learning book on Music Journalism for the Open Professional School – I’m making a start on the initial outline next week so will report back then on how it’s coming together!

And finally, I’m trying to find the time to work on a couple of self-initiated projects (i.e. not for a client) including:

  • an idea for some hyperlocal maps to help people find useful locations in their local area (ie cashpoints, cafes, parks etc) that they may not be aware of
  • icons for the Noun Project
  • images for Red Bubble – a site which allows customers to “build” their own products (tshirts, iphone cases etc) from images uploaded by designers, who get a cut of the original – not sure if its entirely worth the effort, but I’m currently investigating!

 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

linkedin


15 Apr

Appearing soon at …

I’ve had a flurry of invitations to speak in public recently and, as one of my New Years Resolutions was to say ‘yes’ more, I’ve agreed to all of them.

Over the next 2 months I’ll be appearing at the following events – ticket details below, and if you’re already going, do say hi!

 

logo

 

 

 

April CAKE Morning

  • Date: April 29th 2014
  • Venue:  Digital Humanities Hub, University of Birmingham, Pritchatts Road, Edgbaston, B15 2TT
  • Talk subject: tbc
  • Tickets: free available here
  • Other speakers: tbc

Official Blurb

Given the wide and diverse range of academics, businesses, students and Heritage organisations working collaboratively on the DHD project, we will be hosting free monthly “cake” (Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange) mornings to showcase current developments, discuss funding opportunities and tackle current challenges. Plus – there will be cake!

Personal Aims

I went to CAKE for the first time in March, and found it a really interesting event, although I didn’t stick around to properly meet many new people! Thankfully I’ve been invited to speak at the April event, and will make a concerted effort to mingle, and hopefully attract some collaborations and new projects.

The focus of my presentation will be cultural examples of data visualisation and info-visualisation – with a focus on historical and cultural examples!

 

science-capital-logo

Science Capital – Digital World Meeting:Doing Business with Data

Official Blurb

Big data. Open data. The potential for creating innovative businesses seems limitless. Our communities are looking for useful solutions to complex issues such as mass transit flow, better health systems and effective portals that help us work in new ways.

The Digital World speakers will show how big and open data can be used by individuals and by companies looking to grow. The event is open to all: to those who create, visualise and analyse our data universe; to those seeking new business ideas or research; to those who rebel as well as revel in the opportunities big data brings.

Personal Aims

I’m thinking of focusing my talk on past, present and future of data visualisation – harking back to some of the ‘classics’, to what’s being done today and ideas for the future. I’d really like to present an interesting insight into the world of data design – with some historical context, real world examples and advice for companies looking to explore this avenue.

It would also be great to make some new contacts, and there is a chance to network at the event, so I won’t forget to pack my business cards!

 

Print

 

 

Creating Usable Content

  • Date: May 12th 2014
  • Venue: SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff
  • Workshop: Creating Infographics (50 minutes repeated 3 times during the day)
  • Tickets:  here
  • Other speakers: Dan Slee (@comms2point0) Steve Davies (@filmcafe_steve) and more tbc

Official Blurb

The way we communicate has changed. How can we improve the way we engage with colleagues, stakeholders and the public?
The Creating Useable Content Learning Event is a day of high-tempo workshops that will equip you with the skills to tell your story in a way that attracts attention and triggers conversations.
During the day you’ll discover the benefit of other people sharing your content and spreading your message for you.
With a practical, hands-on emphasis, each of the five workshops will give you the opportunity to begin creating useable content right there and then!

Personal Aims

This sounds like a great event – delegates will rotate round a series of 50 minute workshops using useful introductory skills like social media management, writing blogs and using photography to promote.

It will be great to develop a quick version of my infographics designing course and, of course, meet lots of new organisations who may benefit from my design services!

10 Apr

Bits and Pieces: design-related podcasts

I’m a big fan of podcasts.I’m only sad that I don’t have more time to listen to them (for example, I can’t listen whilst I’m working, just when I’m at home, travelling or driving). I use the Pocket Casts app on my iPhone, which is a very smart, easy to use app and for the past 6 months I’ve been listening to a lot of design-related podcasts – here are my favourites (in no particular order!)
[toc]

 

 

The Stack

The Stack

(website) (iTunes)

  • Format: Studio host, with guests, reports and discussion
  • Tone: informative, intelligent and ever-so-slightly smug. 
  • Usual length: 25 – 40 mins
  • Frequency: weekly

The first of 2 offering from Monocle, publishers of the high-brow monthly magazine. They run a radio station, but the shows are also released as podcasts. This has been a long-time favourite of mine.

Usually presented by Editor-in-Chief Tyler Brulee, its a 30 minute look at the world of magazine publishing. Guests bring along their favourite titles, and discuss design, content and the wider industry.

Section D

Section D

(website) (iTunes)

  • Format: studio host and reports from global reporters
  • Tone: dips a toe in the water of every type of design – a good overview
  • Usual length: 60 mins
  • Frequency: weekly

The second podcast from Monocle, this time the design-focused Section D. A recent change of presenter has improved this no end, with a more relaxed style. Covering graphic design, architecture, fashion and everything in between all over the world, it offers an interesting insight into the industry.

99% Invisible

99% Invisible

(website) (iTunes)

  • Format: radio programme on a different design related subject each week
  • Tone: highly produced, intelligent with comic asides. 
  • Usual length: around 2o minutes
  • Frequency: weekly

A recent funding push has meant this brilliant radio series is now weekly, maintaining it’s high standards. A high level of production and presenting means recent topics such as “barcodes”, Pizza Hut buildings and number stations, become fascinating subjects.

Data Stories logo

Data Stories

(website) (iTunes)

  • Format: 2 hosts + guests
  • Tone: incredibly friendly, passionate and geeky in places 
  • Usual length: 45 – 120 mins
  • Frequency: monthly (not regular)

I adore this podcast because it lands exactly in my wheelhouse – data and design. The hosts, an academic and a professional data designer, clearly enjoy the podcast and create a friendly and warm environment. Both incredibly knowledgable, they bring in big name guests and cover a range of subjects including, recently, data journalism. As I’m not a coder, I am occasionally lost by some of the code-speak, but it’s handled well and moves quickly.

Do listen out for the adorable cross-nationality marathon goodbye session at the end of the podcast!

Design Matters

Design Matters

(website) (iTunes)

  • Format: head to head interview
  • Tone: intimate, warm and knowledgable 
  • Usual length: 45 mins
  • Frequency: weekly

This podcast focuses entirely on one subject a week, with an in-depth head to head interview. I’ve found interviews to be interesting and insightful, irrespective of the interviewee, thanks to host bigwig Debbie Milner.

Deeply Graphics Design Cast

The Deeply Graphic Design Podcast

(website) (iTunes)

  • Format: 3 hosts, discussion and listener questions
  • Tone: friendly, industry-insight discussions and advice
  • Usual length: 40 – 60 mins
  • Frequency: fortnightly

This is a more serious version of Adventures in Design  – with 3 professional designers discussing a specific graphic or web design issue each episode. The tone is friendly, with no silliness or banter and the issues are handled professionally.

 

Adventures in Design

Adventures in Design

(website)(iTunes)

  • Format: 3 presenters with chat, occasional interviews and Q & A
  • Tone: casual, yet informative with occasional (ok, quite a bit) of swearing
  • Usual length: 1 hr 40 – 2hr
  • Frequency: weekly

When I was working alone at home, this podcast acted as my colleagues, with enough banter and interesting facts and tips to make me feel human again!! It was great to hear 3 guys chatting about every day designer issues and moans, with some smart ideas and advice thrown in.

Recently the podcasts were recorded on the road as the crew took a trip to the Flatpack Festival in Austin, Texas as part of SXSW with some genuinely funny moments!

04 Apr

5 Things I Discovered at Cheltenham Design Festival

Cheltenham Design Festival

Recently I visited the Cheltenham Design Festival as part of my ongoing education into art and design.

The structure of the day meant attendees had to choose between a selection of great workshops and presentations and I found the day incredibly interesting and inspiring.

Here are the top ideas I heard/learnt today:

1. Infographics Are Not Dead

Which is just as well!

I was starting to get a little nervous. Not only has the infographics world been inundated with tacky, cheap and low-value infographics, but this mashup of content and design seems to have very low credibility within the design field. (Is it considered a low-brow artform? Or are graphic designers simply not interested in the presentation of content literally?)

One of the sessions I attended covered viral marketing, newsjacking and how to make your content “stickable” – the session was appropriately called “Super Sticky Snackability” presented by Jon Burkhart from Urgent Genius.

Following the session I asked Jon, as he had briefly touched on the subject, whether the influx of cheap infographics had killed them. Thankfully Jon backed up my feelings, that there will always be a place, but the content has to be strong, but also that interactivity is perhaps a still under-saturated area. He added that it’s very hard to kill something, despite claims to the contrary (TV and print live on, for example despite the death knell!)

Phew!

2. It’s OK to Have Fun!

(Image: HomeofMetal_Fox_0711 by Guy Evans, on Flickr)

HomeofMetal_Fox_0711

I love what I do, but it’s often easy to get caught up in deadlines, and the process of what you’re doing, and forget all that. So it was great to see how much passion surrounds the design industry, but the subject of having fun was covered heavily by two of the speakers. First, Morag Myerscough (site) (pictured left) during her presentation “Design can create belonging

It’s hard not to be cheered up by her vibrant design work but it was great to sense her genuine passion and joy about her work, and see photographs of her laughing with work colleagues as she actually gets her hands dirty doing the painting work on her huge scale projects.

The second dose of “loving the job” came from Nick Eagleton from The Partners. His background was strongly founded in exploratory arts (including some adventures in taxidermy, wire sculpture and studios within studios) although now he has a more structured branding role. However, his sheer joy at being able to bring his passion for surprise and exploration in design was evident – keep it fun!!

3. Meet Your Audience

Another tip from Nick Eagleton (see previous point).

He explained how he was sent to the Falkland Islands to research the design for a new standards logo for produce from the island. Prior to his trip, the team had developed a series of logos all featuring the penguin, a well-used icon in Falklands merchandise. It appears on mugs, websites, hats and mittens!

However, when Nick arrived in the Falklands and began speaking to the locals, he realised quickly that they all hated the penguins, for the simple fact that they’re noisy and crap everywhere. This was made worse by the fact that cartoon penguins appeared everywhere.

Falkland IslandsInstead, Nick went for a more natural approach, and used the windswept grasses, indigenous to the island, to demonstrate it’s unique weather conditions. Without that trip to the Islands, the logo would have featured a penguin, and not been popular, if it had been taken up at all.

From this, I’m going to endeavour to spend more time getting to know my clients and, if possible, meet in their offices to get a feel for their “brand” and get people more engaged in my work.

Which brings me to …

4. The Ikea Effect

“The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias that occurs when consumers place a disproportionally high value on products they partially created.[1] The name derives from the Swedish manufacturer and furniture retailer IKEA, which sells many furniture products that require assembly.”

In short, if someone get’s involved and places some input in your project, they’ll think it’s better than it is.

This concept was mentioned during my first session of the day, by Tom Roope from The Rumpus Room

His company focuses largely on crowdsourced material, which is curated and moderated to create interesting pieces of work such as the Lily Allen video – below.

Xbox Lips Lily Allen TV Commercial from FIELD on Vimeo.

This not only makes a catchy video but imagine – every single person who appeared in that video probably shared it with their friends – who most likely shared it themselves!

The hint here is that getting people involved in the process is a sure fire to get them on board. Yet another reason to get out of the office more, and into my clients worlds!

And finally …

5. Collaboration is Good

I must confess, I’m not a natural collaborator. Ask anyone who’s worked with me back in my radio days, and they’ll tell you I’d rather do it myself than delegate or collaborate.

And that still stands for work I can do myself (which is one reason I’ll probably never employ someone to do the same role as me). However, that shouldn’t stop me working with people with different skills.

supergroup

Morag Myerscough covered this during her presentation – explaining the thinking behind Supergroup ,which sees a collection of designers, with varying skills, pool their resources to work together on projects that they’d be unable to take on alone, due to requirements or sheer size.

It’s a smart move. I’ll be collaborating with some developers over the coming months on the My Route project, and I can certainly see the potential of gathering a stable of techies, developers and perhaps statisticians to boost my business model.

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.

 


18 May

10 Rules for Using Icons on Infographics

Icons, pictograms, smileys, dingbats – call them what you like – visual language is a fascinating area of design.

Yes, varieties of visual language has been used for years, with varying degrees of success, and it’s likely that icons will one day be relegated to the “naf bin”.

For now, thought, there are a range of icons out there that can really spice up your website, infographic or presentation

But use with care – here are my 10 tips:

  1. Don’t use them for the sake of it
  2. Use logical icons – don’t make the reader work out what you’re trying to say
  3. Do use them to break up lots of text
  4. Don’t use them to fill up space – get more content or make your infographic smaller
  5. Avoid using icons from radically different sets – try to keep the same theme throughout
  6. Use them if your audience may not understand the text (ie young, international)
  7. Consider using an icon OR a word, not both  – i.e. avoid EMAIL word and an EMAIL logo
  8. Use an icon to illustrate a long header/paragraph
  9. Try to use icons appropriate to the audience – classy for business, cute for children. Why do we still use the traditional “telephone” symbol for phone, when no phones look like that any more?
  10. Don’t be naf/cliche – bored of “toilet man”? Try using a different style character

If you want to find some good handy icons, give these font based ones a go (by sharing these links I’m not vouching for safety of anything you download – virus scan folks!)

The Noun Project

http://www.dafont.com/

http://www.fontspace.com/category/dingbats

http://cooltext.com/Fonts-Dingbats

17 May

Off-the-peg infographics – Easel.ly V Piktochart


 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

linkedin


Technically, as an infographics/data visualisations designer, I really shouldn’t even be promoting these but they’re big news at the moment and you may be tempted to give them a go.

Choosing one of these tools is the equivalent of using a template CV  – it does the job, most people won’t mind and it’s cheaper /easier than doing something else.

The downside is, they can look “off the peg”, you still need a certain amount of creativity to get something original and you’ll end up changing your content to fit into the theme you’re using.

But they’re free/cheap and great if you can’t afford someone like me (If you can, feel free to get in touch … see some of my hand drawn work here)

———–

The 2 infographics designer tools I’ll be comparing are Easel.ly and Piktochart. Scroll down to SUMMARY if you’re short of time!

Both are free services (with pro versions available with more theme options etc.) I’ll be looking at the free versions today.

The principle is that you pick a theme, and remove/change/add graphics and text to illustrate your information.

 

Piktochart

PIktochart

The 6 themes available with the free version of Piktochart

Piktochart allows you to choose from a selection (seven) themes, which can then be further modified within the editing window i.e. background and images.

The choice of themes is pretty limited (and look a bit dated now) and some of the graphics do verge on the “clipart” but there are some useful items in there if you dig around the “Entertainment” category (would be easier to have broken down a bit!).

You can add or remove entire sections (blocks) within the editing window which is handy for moving chunks of information around the graphic. However, I’ve found this to be more of a hindrance than a help as it’s quick glitchy to use (maybe it needs getting used to!)

Sadly, you cannot accurately use the graphics to denote scale (ie larger circles for larger values)  – yes you can manually drag the size of the icons, but not input a specific size – so your I would suggest avoiding “size” as a visual tool altogether.

There is the function to upload and add your own graphics, useful for photos or corporate logos.

Piktochart comes into it’s own, however, with the function to add charts. Dragging the “chart” tool onto the desktop opens a spreadsheet style window that you simply paste your data into (you can also upload a CSV). Don’t expect miracles if you upload huge swathes of data, however – as the charting tool is about as smart as the one in Excel. I suggest uploading a few select statistics and selecting the chart that suits. You can easily modify colours and style, so it’s a great tool for inserting small snappy charts into your infographic.

Easel.ly

easely screengrab

Just a few of the many themes available with the free version of Easel.ly

Where Piktochart fell down on overall style of themes and graphics, Easel.ly wins hands down. It’s a smooth clean interface, with some great graphics and icons to choose from. It’s very simple to use and there are some very smart themes to give you a head start.

Plus, and this is a big plus for me, you can  open a “clear window“, essentially start from scratch. With Piktochart you have to manually delete all the elements, and as the themes are quick complex, with some “locked” content, this can be a big hassle.

The 2 downsides of Easel.ly are biggies, however.

1. You cannot introduce data or charts. This is a real shame as this would put Easel.ly ahead of Piktochart.

2. As with Piktochart, you cannot specify the size of graphics – so could not use this for visually showing scale.

 

SUMMARY

If you need to introduce accurate charts to your infographics, I suggest using Piktochart. If not, Easel.ly wins hands down on style, ease of use and creativity.

GOOD BAD
EASE.LY nice choice of iconsuseful and stylish layoutseasy to use (not over complicated)simple to use no charts facilitycannot accurately specify size of objectscan’t specify size of image
PIKTOCHART allows you add data/chartsability to add “blocks” of content to change size of imageability to move blocks of content around limited themesno “blank” themetricky to delete current content

cannot accurately specify size of objects
poor choice of icons
icons cheezy/cliche
bit clunky

 

 


 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

linkedin


All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020