Category Archives: Infographic

18 Sep

Stop: you’re doing infographics all wrong

Infographics can be a really effective way to communicate. Whether you’re a journalist, a researcher or a PR professional, using a visual format COULD be the perfect way for you to reach your audience.

However, the internet is full of terrible examples of infographics that offer little value to the reader.

Here are five ways people are getting it wrong.

noun_question_316359

You’re doing it for the wrong reasons

When a client approaches me to design an infographic, I ask them a simple question.

“Why do you want one?”

I’m happy when a client answers:

  • “We have a lot of interesting information that we’d like to get across to our customers”
  • “We’ve just finished a big project and we’d like to tell our investors all about it”
  • “We know our audience responds to this format, so we’d like to present our latest report in this way”

However, alarm bells start ringing when I hear:

  • “Another company down the road has one, and we think we need one too”

That doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Perhaps that company has a different product or audience. Even if they are in the same industry, with the same audience, they may simply have got it wrong – who says it’s right for them?

  • “Because it will drive a lot of traffic to our website”

Sadly, only a small percentage of infographics ‘go viral”. You are bound to be disappointed if you looking just for clicks. Think about your infographic as a useful communication tool for people interested in your company/product/story. If it’s of wider interest, those people will share it.

If you chase the audience you may end up dumbing down or editing your content – creating a less useful tool.

  • “I saw one in the paper and it looked cool”

Infographics in magazines and newspapers tend to be content-rich and tell a specific story. Often they’re used to supplement a longer article, helping tell a more complex story. They may have been weeks in the making, with a team of journalists and designers.

Now compare this to the information you’re working with, the time to have to spend on it and the resources available. Will yours look so cool?

noun_peacock_38192

Too much “graphic”, not enough “info”

Equal weight should be given to the information and the graphical elements of your infographic.

Too many examples exist online than are thin on content because the creator wanted to produce something that looked good and would attract attention. However, if there’s no content to keep the reader engaged, everyone has wasted their time.

If you don’t have enough information for a strong full-page infographic, think about other approaches. perhaps a smaller graphic would work? Don’t rule out doing some extra research to add more information. Sites like data.gov.uk can be handy for finding national data that could support your arguments.

 

noun_aim_128625

You’ve forgotten about your audience

During my training sessions I constantly remind attendees about their audience.

Treat an infographic like any other form of communication – a report, article, Facebook status update or press release. In each of those you should be tailoring your content, message and language to the audience.

 

Who is most likely to find your infographic interesting? What do we know about those people? (old, young, male, female, professionals?)

Having this sorted will help you answer some further questions to decide what to feature in your infographic.

  • what do they know about the subject? (how much do you need to explain?)
  • how will they feel about the information?
  • what do you want them to do?
  • what information do they need / want from your infographic? can they find it quickly?

Also, trying to tailor your infographic to “everyone” means you risk engaging no-one.

noun_message-in-a-bottle_8770

You don’t have a clear message

This goes back to the “why?” question in the first point.

What are you trying to say? Take a good look at the information you’re intending to use in your infographic – what is it saying? Are you trying to:

  • demonstrate your company’s good work over the past year?
  • persuade the reader to do something?
  • explain why something has happened?

Make sure you keep this in mind as you are designing – even write it on a post-it and stick it to your computer, so you don’t forget.

I always get my information in shape first. I’ve got a handy process involving lots of post-it notes and big sheets of paper that really helps me assess my information and help me decide if I need to edit it or add to it. It also helps me decide what’s important and begin to develop an overall structure for the final piece.

This helps me stay on message.

noun_skills_225624

You’re trying to do too much

Whilst I use quite a few during my training, I have a fundamental issue with those long thin infographics.

My main issue is that  – with no page size to work within – there is no editing or quality control and the creator is tempted to throw everything into it, to make it “better” (read “longer”).

An infographic is not a magic spell that will solve all your problems. Throwing more content into it will only make it less effective. Instead, think – can you break your information down into several smaller infographic images, instead of a full-page? These can be handy for social media, adding to reports or on slides.

Plus – each graphic could have a different message and focus, you could easily create graphics for different audiences.

 

27 Apr

Why data is more than just numbers

Quick thought: When I’m delivering a training session, or talking to clients, I try to avoid using the term ‘data’ and instead use the word ‘information’.

 

Many clients and trainees fall into the trap of thinking that data means numbers, whether that’s sales figures, yearly activity data or survey results. However, it’s more useful to think of data as information  – which can cover anything from times and dates, locations, systems, lists of names … anything that can inform.

 

In the same way we can turn statistics into charts, so:

– place names can become maps
– dates and times can become timelines
– systems can become diagrams

 

Adding this non-statistical information to your visuals can help the readers engage with your content. If they’re naturally put off by numbers (as many people are), they may be attracted by a map or diagram alongside them. Adding extra content can also give the reader more rounded information, by adding context to the story. For example, seeing where your offices are located may help the reader understand differences in sales patterns.

 

The benefits of adding non-statistical information to your graphics

 

– more context for the reader
– delivers a more rounded insight into the statistics
– more appealing to readers deterred by statistics

 

If you’re working on an infographic or data visualisation, don’t forget about the other information around this subject. It could make all the difference.

19 Apr

Studio Diary: 19 Apr 2016 – Levellers, text-wrangling and hi-res images

noun_calendar_404 19 April 2016
10:45am
noun_map-pin_394189My desk
Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

 

noun_teapot_21591noun_teapot_21591noun_coffee-pot_1054noun_teapot_21591noun_coffee-pot_1054noun_teapot_21591

 

I’m working on a couple of fairly straightforward infographic projects today. I prefer to have several projects on the go at a time – it means I always have something to work on, even if some are with clients for review.

 

screenshotArts report
I’m creating 5 A4 graphics to be inserted into a Word report. These 5 pages are made up of stylised maps (of a town, a region and the UK) with points referring to a directory of artists / organisations. Working over several pages has been interesting (most of my work is single page) and wrangling this much text has been fun. I’ve also got to use cute icons and to aid navigation across the page.

 

 screenshotRecruitment one-pager
18 months ago I worked with a Birmingham recruiter to create a series of infographics to share their key statistics and contact details. Now I’ve been asked to modify one of the pages for a different department. My design skills have improved in 18 months and I’m having to fight the urge to redesign the whole thing. I’m also getting to work with a subtle texture on the page, which really adds something special to the image.

 

screenshotPublic health survey
This has been a long running project with some major rethinks along the way. We’re 99% there, and after toying with data visualisations and interactive tools, we’ve now settled on a set of 3 infographics to show the key data from this sexual survey. I’ve wanted to use a hi-res photo background for an infographic for a while, and the image worked perfectly. Bonus that it was one of my 7 free images from Adobe Stock.

 

29 Mar

Infographics training at the Press Association

Press Association Logo

I’m back at the Press Association delivering an infographics one-day session in May.

If your organisation is looking to improve your infographics then this is the course for you.

I’ve received excellent feedback, and with only 6 attendees, there’s plenty of opportunity to ask questions about your organisations specific needs.

The course combines hands-on training, discussion and group work.

 

Find out more about the course, and book your place, here

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?

01 Jul

Infographics for Housing Associations

brighton tidy street houses

It’s been all about housing associations recently!

I’m currently working on an annual report infographic for Thames Valley Housing (covering their key statistics) but was also recently invited to speak to a network group of National Housing Federation communications professionals in the West Midlands.

I delivered a 45 minute talk on infographics including:

  • why infographics
  • the process of developing them
  • some key tools.

What I find interesting at these events is hearing about what the individuals are doing, and thinking how infographics / information design could fit into their communication plans.

[toc]

Newsletters

There was an interesting discussion about newsletters. It seems many of the HA’s still post out a physical newsletter as opposed to email, as some residents don’t have internet access. These newsletters seem to cover the main events and news since the last issue was released.

Infographics would be a great way to engage readers in the developments of the HA, and the changes in their environment. Each issue could include a really simple diagram or chart giving a snapshot of the demographics of other residents, for example, or the number of new homes acquired.

Using a similar style in each issue, and having the infographic on the same page, could become a really interesting destination for readers.

Annual Reports

As I mentioned above, I’m currently working on an annual report infographic for Thames Valley Housing. This will sit within their full report, but will also work as a standalone graphic.

Annual reports are chock-full of standalone statistics – i.e. customer demographics, number of homes, moves . new lets, size of homes etc. This is perfect for the infographic layout style.

Leaflets / Flyers

Leaflets are a great way to distribute information, especially to a less digitally-active audience. If you’re trying to drum up interest in a subject, for example – a change in rent, a new development or to highlight a particular problem area (i.e. anti-social behaviour) you could turn the leaflet into a fold-out infographic, or use small diagrams to back up the text/argument.

Process Documents

The housing process can be a stressful time for new residents. The paperwork and process can be confusing so HA’s could head off any tension by creating a series of documents with infographics to explain what, when and how things will happen.

For example, a timeline of the application process will allow people to understand how long it will take, whilst a chart could explain what the rent covers and how often it needs to be paid.

Residents could also learn about the various housing options with infographics showing demographic breakdown (i.e. are there other children nearby for mine to play with? or is it a particularly young area).

Environmental

Take a look at the image above! There’s no reason to keep infographics on the page or screen. Tidy Street in Brighton plotted their electricity use on the road itself for a few months back in 2011. Read more about this here

It could be about recycling, fundraising or any other group challenge! Why not?

 


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

 

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

 

20 May

Engineers Mate – infographic and slides

Engineers Mate are a West Midlands engineering supply company, who recently approached Caroline Beavon Ltd to support their entry for the Express and Star Business Awards 2014, where they went on to win the Young Business Award.

The company wanted a one page infographic to explain the growth of the company over the past 12 months, as well as a series of slide images to use during their presentations to the judges.

Engineers Mate - infographic-01

 

Engineers Mate - infographic (o)-01ENG01 - draft 1 outlined-01ENG01 - draft 1 outlined-02ENG01 - draft 1 outlined-03

Enhanced by Zemanta
29 Jul

bestbywm infographics

#bestbywm is a white paper investigating social media best practice in the West Midlands, UK.

Find full report here:

Following a survey of local authority communications teams I was invited to generate a series of infographics for the report. This included:

* a full page results infographic
* a series of footer infographics showing social media stats
* a simple infographic showing the cost of communciation channels

 

Survey Infographic - FINAL IMAGE V2-01

 

footer-04

footer-12

footer-05BestbyWm page example 2 BestbyWM page example

 

 

All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020