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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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: