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Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum

President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization, Infographic Design, Visual Thinking, Product Development and Marketing professional fascinated by good infographics.  Always looking for better ways to get the point across.

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Thursday
Apr262012

The Eagle Scout Infographic

The Eagle Scout infographic is a new design from the Boy Scouts of America, and shows them experimenting with using infographics to share their message.  It’s odd that I can’t find any mention of it on Scouting.org, but found it posted on the Bryan On Scouting blog, which is the official blog from Scouting Magazine, and posted in the official BSA Twitter stream (@boyscouts).  There’s also a high-resolution PDF file available for download if anyone wants to print it out.

My son just bridged over to Boy Scouts from Cub Scouts, and their national office is here in the DFW area, so I was naturally interested.  This is a really good first attempt at an infographic design from their design team, but makes a few mistakes visualizing the data.

  • Good use of the red, white and blue color scheme.  It’s clearly scouting, and specifically related to Eagle Scouts
  • The data being presented is fantastic since only the BSA would have access to many of these statistics.
  • I love the choices of imagery used.  The embroidered patches and icons used for the scouts keeps the design clean and easy to read.  Many BSA publications use a lot of full-color photos of the scouts, and that would have added too much visual noise to an infographic design.
  • The BSA logo at the top clearly identifies this as an official publication, but it’s missing a title.  What should we call this infographic?  Why should I read this infographic?  Something like “100 Years of Eagle Scouts: By The Numbers” would have worked nicely.
  • The information included will change over time since the data is a current snapshot of the state of Eagle Scouts.  2,151,024 Eagle Scouts as of what date?  The infographic should more clearly identify the date that the data is gathered from, because people will be looking at this for years on the Internet.
  • Filling unusual shapes to show percentages is always a challenge.  With images like the hand icon and the globe you can’t just calculate the height of the colored area like a bar chart.  You have to calculate the AREA of the space to be colored, or you end up with false visualizations like these.
  • The same is true for sizing shapes, like the people icons for the Average Age of Eagle Scouts visualization.  You have to size the overall AREA of the shapes to match the data being presented, which is hard with complex shapes.  You can’t just change the height.
  • The space shuttle avoids this issue by only coloring a rectangular shape in the middle, turning it into a stacked bar chart, but the visualization doesn’t match the data.  The red colored section is visualizing more than 60 astronauts as Eagle Scouts, when the number shown is only 40.
  • I love the Eagles by Decade data, but avoid 3D charts.  The 3D effect doesn’t add anything to the data being presented and it’s incosistent with the rest of the design.  The data tells a great story, and clearly shows that Boy Scouts continues to grow strongly and is a viable organization in the 21st century.
  • I like this use of the word cloud for Notable Eagles, but don’t change the font sizes because in infographic design this is assumed to convey data.  With Brave and Loyal in larger fonts, it implies that these are more important than all of the other virtues.  The virtues should all be one, consistent font size, and the names should all be a second font size.
  • At the bottom, there should be a copyright (or Creative Commons) statement, and a URL for readers to be able to find the original high-resolution version. 

Thanks to Dean for sending in the link!

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Reader Comments (3)

The map should also be normalized by population. It isn't interesting that California and New York have high numbers of Eagle Scouts since they have more people to begin with. Even better, normalize by number of Scouts.
April 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Reynolds
I believe the Eagle Scout Centennial was an attempt at a title, as the Eagle program is slightly younger than the Boy Scout organization. The BSA celebrated 100 years in 2010, and the Eagle rank was created in 1912. That would suggest in the first 100 years, as of the beginning of 2012, 2,151,024 Scouts reached the rank of Eagle Scouts. The Eagles by Decade bar chart backs that up, with the final bar ending in 2011, as does the Eagle by State 1912 -2011 graphic.

The detail is there, but not clearly communicated.
May 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterR. G. Hertel
Thanks for putting this up Randy! And great feedback!
May 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDean

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