Tag Archives: design

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.


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_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?


15 Apr

Is Agile design the answer to ‘free pitching”?

For several years I’ve been testing and trying different pricing structures for my freelance design work. However, one area I’ve been looking to explore is agile pricing.
The problems I’m hoping to solve are:
– new clients asking for ideas as part of a ‘pitch process’
– scope creep kicking in and pushing the project over budget, with no clear grounds for me to increase the price
– addition of new items
– blurring between the various stages so unclear when I can resort to my “I charge more for changes in this stage” caveat

What is Agile?

If a project is agile, it is broken down into “sprints”, each of which has a defined and tangible deliverable, in my case, a wireframe, image or report. With a tangible outcome, we can also attach a pre-agreed price to that ‘chunk’ of work.
Each section is priced up during the sprint before it – to allow for changes in scope.

The Positives

– setting a price for each ‘sprint’ (including initial consultation) will mean I am paid for any work I do, even if the client takes it no further.
– currently my initial suggestions are made with a single pre-defined outcome based on quote price, this allows for more flexibility as we (the client and I) explore the project.
– it is an easy entry point for clients not 100% sure about working with me
– we can easily discuss and price-up changes that arise during each sprint
– if it’s not working for either party and the project does not reach completion, I still get paid for the work done – often not possible to quantify with a flat rate job with one outcome

The Negatives

– it is an unusual approach for design work and might confuse / deter clients
– charging for ‘ideas’ may put some clients off from the outset
– as with hourly – clients may be unwilling to enter into a project with an unknown final price. The solution here may be to offer an estimate or even a Max price.
What are your thoughts? Do you, as a designer, use this method?
30 Aug

Museums, tube lines and handwritten notes – Marches network infographic

A few months back I was invited by Glynis Powell and Sue Knox of the Marches Network (a group of museum development officers working across the West Midlands) to create an infographic to show off their work.

The information was a mix of statistics and text-based information on the various projects and successes throughout the year.


The Layout

Grouping the Information

My first job was to look through the information for groupings  – a way to sort the data and allow the reader to approach it in an organised manner.

I settled on 6 category titles:

  • volunteers
  • paid staff
  • economic
  • governance
  • visitors
  • collections

These neatly covered all the areas of work  – and all the data fitted into at least one of these categories – with some falling into more than one. This led to an interesting challenge, showing crossovers, and shared categories. I’ll confess, I’ve been dying to try a tube style map for a while, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

The Lines

My normal process is to scribble a few words about each “bit” of information onto a post-it note, and spend a good amount of time (1-2 hours) rearranging them on my desk until a pattern or structure appears. However, in this case I felt Gliffy was a better tool. Gliffy is an online mind-mapping/flow diagram tool – and the main benefit for me is the ability to attach connection lines between 2 boxes, which move as you rearrange the boxes. perfect!

I created a series of boxes, one for each section of information, plus one header box for each category and started drawing the connection lines.

See the diagram below.

Note: as with any information – these connections were based on my understanding of the data  – the client made some changes and further advice on how they felt the data should be grouped  – so this diagram does not match the finished piece. 

Flow diagram showing the structure of information for a museum infographic

Moving into Illustrator

This Gliffy diagram gave me a great point of reference – when moving into Illustrator.

Gliffy allows you to export as an SVG file, which can be very useful in Illustrator, however i this case I simply printed off the image and had it next to me as I worked.

I created a grid on my Illustrator page to give me an idea of how large each “text box” should be, and then started creating the individual elements.

Once the tex boxes were in the right place I used the pen tool (with a 2mm curve) to create the lines.



Design Considerations


There was some time between getting the brief, and receiving the information, so I spent this time working on the theme and colours I’d use in the infographic. Along with this infographic, there was also a set of 7 infographics I was to create in the future, so wanted to settle on a strong colour scheme that would work across all of them.

Colours for Marches network infographics

Textures and Ephemera

Even from the early drafts I wanted to give the infographics a weathered, archive feel – so used the texture below at 20% opacity. It added a beautiful finish to the infographic.


On the final graphic – I had to remove this texture as it caused some problems with file sizes, to be replaced with a simple pattern of random small dots. However it did reappear in the series of 7 infographics that followed.




I also wanted to add some further elements of “ephemera” to the infographic  – museum style items, i.e handwritten notes, postcards, objects that would give that archive feel. As you can see above, the handwritten notes really added some texture>

I sourced these items from a range of places, including Design Cuts, and the host of free-vintage image sites out there including:




The typeface I used was Anodyne, purchased as part of a vintage pack from Design Cuts. It’s really effective, with strong definition but a weathered feel.


The Finished Infographic

Marches Network infographic







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?

20 May

CB Ltd infographic used in winning business award entry

Congratulations to Engineers Mate, a West Midlands engineering supply company, who recently approached Caroline Beavon Ltd to boost their entry for the Express and Star Business Awards 2014.

On the night they picked up the Young Business Award.

The company wanted a one page infographic (below) 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.

It was great working with Engineers Mate as their industry was a far cry from the local government and arts organisations I normally work with


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




Engineers Mate - infographic-01

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


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!


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!


(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!


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


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




20 Dec

PROJECT: Sampad Annual Report

You can see more of my infographic and data visualization work here


A few months ago I was invited to create an infographic for the charity, Sampad.

The challenge was this: to show some of the key statistics from their year of activity, in a small area on a single or series of small infographics.

(They were keen to reduce their annual report in both page-size and page-numbers, but didn’t want to reduce the amount of information on display).

The statistics included the number of events held, audience statistics and educational ventures  -as well as a series of geographical locations showing their relationships across the world.


You can view the Annual Report PDF here


Interested in the design process? A few notes/thoughts here







All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020