Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum
President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization and Infographic Design

Infographic Design

Infographics Design | Presentations
Consulting | Data Visualizations

DFW DataViz Meetup
NEXT EVENT: September 6, 2016

Join the DFW Data Visualization and Infographics Meetup Group if you're in the Dallas/Fort Worth area!

Search the Cool Infographics site

Custom Search




The Cool Infographics® Gallery:

How to add the
Cool Infographics button to your:

Cool Infographics iOS icon

- iPhone
- iPad
- iPod Touch


Read on Flipboard for iPad and iPhone

Featured in the Tech & Science category

Flipboard icon

Twitter Feed
From the Bookstore

Caffeine Poster

The Caffeine Poster infographic


Sizing Up Sharks

Sizing Up Sharks infographic National Geographic

The design team at National Geographic has published a beautiful size comparison infographic: Sizing Up Sharks, the Lords of the Sea. The parallax scrolling keeps you, the reference deep sea diver, in frame as a comparison to provide perspective for each of the various types of sharks.

Sharks range in size from largest fish on the planet to the length of your palm. See how you compare to some of these vulnerable predators that are so crucial to the ocean's health.

The tooth Illustrations are not in scale with the fish, but all the teeth are in scale to each other to show relative tooth sizes. For some reason, only a few of the smaller sharks species are shown with both the small end and high end of their size ranges.

Sizing Up Sharks infographic Great White

This engaging infographic tells one story really, really well without adding too much other data that would have cluttered the design. The diver animation and underwater sounds are a nice touch.

Thanks to Chiqui Esteban (@chiquiesteban) for posting the link!

The massive Megalodon!

Sizing Up Sharks infographic Megalodon


Even Major News Outlets Get DataViz Wrong


Data visualization can be the most powerful, inspiring, and effective tool of a storyteller—as long as it’s accurate. However, a visualization can go horribly wrong if the designer uses the design tool incorrectly or gets the math wrong.

All too often, the underlying data is correct, but the visualization doesn’t accurately represent the corresponding values. Most of the time, it’s safe to chalk up the false visualization to an honest mistake by the designer, because it’s actually easier than you think.

Take a bubble chart, for example. A great visualization method, but it’s a common source of flawed dataviz. The reason is that design software only allows scaling or width and height adjustments to size shapes. So designers, upon reviewing the data, will sometimes mistakenly scale a circle's diameter instead of the circle’s area. This, in turn, produces radically incorrect sizes. The approach has logic to it (to some degree), but it’s inherently wrong. What should instead be done takes a bit of geometry and a spreadsheet.

“Just think about it: if you tell a software tool to scale something 200 percent, it will make it twice as tall and twice as wide. Therefore, you aren’t doubling the size of your original circle. You’re making it four time larger.”

- The Truthful Art, Alberto Cairo (@albertocairo)

For a real-world example of this problem, take a look at CNN’s recent “ISIS goes global: 90 attacks in 21 countries have killed nearly 1,400 people,” an insightful article, serious topic, credible source with inaccurate data visualizations. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bubble chart at fault. Assuming the data gathered by CNN is accurate, the maps included in the article don’t match the data and are way off.

CNN ISIS Goes Global Incident Map Bad DataViz

Take a close look and the size key. The circle size for five incidents is clearly shown as five times the diameter of the circle for only one incident, which creates a circle for “5 incidents” that is actually 25 TIMES LARGER, not five times larger. This drastically over emphasizes the locations on the map for the Middle East! I’ve designed the correct sizes so you can see what the bubble sizes should be.

CNN ISIS Circles DataViz Key Corrected

“It’s key for data visualization designers to understand that we visually compare the sizes of objects based on the their area (not their height). Numerical values are one-dimensional, but objects on a page or screen are two-dimensional. This is where designers need to remember to use the math learned from high-school geometry class. If you didn’t do well in geometry, it’s time to take another look.”

- Cool Infographics, Randy Krum (@rtkrum)

Bubble charts are in no way the only kind of dataviz that lends itself to mishaps. In print, broadcast, and online, you’ll see a variety of charts incorrectly showing the data — pie charts not adding up to 100%, logo sizes that don’t match the data, lines of icons with a different quantity than the data, etc.

Inaccurate dataviz certainly doesn’t always happen by accident either. Creating deceptive visual context is an unethical tactic employed by researchers, companies and publications alike, typically to promote a persuasive argument. Differences can be blown out of proportion or hidden by changing the axis scale or ignoring relevant data.

Once you start looking at data visualizations as a critical thinking reader, you’ll start notice many charts that don’t match the data. Always look to make sure the designer accurately represented the information before you take any data visualization at face value.


Election Exodus - Moving to Canada?

Election Exodus - Moving to Canada infographic

Frustrated by the U.S. Presidential candidates? Ready to just pack up and move the Canada? The Election Exodus infographic from SpareFoot looks closer at what it would take for Americans to move North to Canada.

Trump or Clinton.

The prospective of either of these presidential frontrunners emerging victorious in November is too much for many Americans to bear.

A shocking number of U.S. citizens would consider a move to Canada—15 percent if Hillary Clinton is elected and 20 percent if Donald Trump is elected, according to recent polls.  (To be fair, we’re willing to bet there would be plenty of supposed defectors under President Sanders or Cruz as well.)

The question remains: How serious are these people? And how hard is it to move to Canada?

The answers to these questions and more lie below:

Designed by NowSourcing, this is a visually busy take on the side-by-side comparison style of infographic. A lot of text, and many of the statistics are not visualized, which makes it harder for readers to understand all of the information.

Thanks to Brian for sending in the link!


Kung Fu Motion Visualization

Kung Fu Motion Visualization from Tobias Gremmler on Vimeo.

Kung Fu Motion Visualization is a fabulous visualization project by Tobias Gremmler. Using motion capture data from Chinese Kung Fu, Tobias is able to create various 3D models showing shape and volume. Designed for an exhibition hosted by the International Guoshu Association in Hong Kong.

When working on this project, I was deeply inspired by the dynamics of motion and philosophy of Kung Fu. The work was commissioned by International Guoshu Association for an Kung Fu exhibition, initiated by Hing Chao. The exhibition focuses on the legacy of Hakka martial arts in Hong Kong and will launch in Hong Kong in September. The Kung Fu Masters whose motions has been captured are: Master Wong Yiu Kau (Variation 1-3) and Master Li Shek Lin (Variation 3,4).

Visualizing the invisible is always fascinating, and motion visualizations have been created even in pre-digital times with light, photography, costumes or paintings. I have described some of the methods that I applied in this work in my book "Grids for the Dynamic Images", published 2003.

Kung Fu Motion Visualization 

Also published on YouTube (in case you have trouble viewing the video from Vimeo):


Thanks to Jan for sharing. Also found on Colossal and Ignant.


American Slavery Maps

American Slavery Maps Infographic

Bill Rankin at Radical Cartography has created nine uniform grid maps of American Slavery covering each decade from 1790 to 1870. I've combined them into the animated GIF you see above. Bill took a new approach in analyzing the historical data by 250 square mile units instead of the traditional data by county.

The gradual decline of slavery in the north was matched by its explosive expansion in the south, especially with the transition from the longstanding slave areas along the Atlantic coast to the new cotton plantations of the Lower South. And although the Civil War by no means ended the struggle for racial equality, it marked a dramatic turning point; antebellum slavery was a robust institution that showed no signs of decline.

Mapping slavery presents a number of difficult problems. The vast majority of maps — both old and new — use the county as the unit of analysis. But visually, it is tough to compare small and large counties; the constant reorganization of boundaries in the west means that comparisons across decades are tricky, too. And like all maps that shade large areas using a single color, typical maps of slavery make it impossible to see population density and demographic breakdown at the same time. (Should a county with 10,000 people and 1,000 slaves appear the same as one that has 100 people and 10 slaves?)

My maps confront these problems in two ways. First, I smash the visual tyranny of county boundaries by using a uniform grid of dots. The size of each dot shows the total population in each 250-sqmi cell, and the color shows the percent that were slaves. But just as important, I've also combined the usual county data with historical data for more than 150 cities and towns. Cities usually had fewer slaves, proportionally, than their surrounding counties, but this is invisible on standard maps. Adding this data shows the overwhelming predominance of slaves along the South Carolina coast, in contrast to Charleston; it also shows how distinctive New Orleans was from other southern cities. These techniques don't solve all problems (especially in sparsely populated areas), but they substantially refocus the visual argument of the maps — away from arbitrary jurisdictions and toward human beings.

For a graphic explanation of this technique, see here.

I appreciate him explaining his map technique! Each decade is a separate high-resolution map image, but Bill also created a fantastic combined map showing the highest Peak Slavery levels of slavery throughout the entire time period.

The bottom map shows the peak number of slaves in each area, along with the year when slavery peaked. Except in Delaware, Maryland, and eastern Virginia, slavery in the south was only headed in one direction: up. Cartographically, this map offers a temporal analysis without relying on a series of snapshots (either a slideshow or an animation), and it makes it clear that a static map is perfectly capable of representing a dynamic historical process.

American Slavery Peak Map


Additionally, you can download a high-resolution poster version showing all nine decades:

American Slavery Maps Poster

 Found on FlowingData and CityLab


The Growth of the Internet of Things

Growth in the Internet of Things Infographic

The current projection data from Cisco is that the IoT (Internet of Things) will reach 50 Billion devices by the year 2020! Visualized by the NCTA (National Cable & Telecommunications Association) as the Growth in the Internet of Things.

Today’s Internet is driven by wired and wireless networks, keeping us connected throughout our daily lives. With the advent of new digital devices that constantly link us to the Internet, these networks have become much more than just a simple vehicle for information and communications. They now enable us to track our daily habits, monitor our health, manage home energy use and track nearly any other data we can imagine. These devices make up what we call the Internet of Things – a web of connected objects that are linked via networks that can interact with each other and with us.

The Internet isn’t merely developing, it’s exploding, and the numbers prove it. Take a look at our graphic below — it shows the advancing surge of connected devices using the Internet.

Today, there are more connected devices than there are human beings on the planet. This expansion isn’t just from cell phones, tablets and computers – it’s thanks to toothbrushes, stovetops and millions of other devices that now have IP addresses. Estimates show that there will be over 50 billion connected devices by 2020.

Fast, ubiquitous Wi-Fi and increasing home broadband speeds will drive the Internet of Things and the ever-expanding web.

A clean and simple line chart tells this story very well. Notice that the chart was designed with many of the principles for storytelling in data visualization we discuss every day.

  • No chart legend. The data is shown directly in the chart
  • Minimal gridlines to simplify reading the chart and clean up the visual noise gridlines create
  • No separate data table. The relevant numbers are shown directly in the chart
  • Minimal axis labels (you don't need to show every year)
  • Use of visual icons to help communicate each milestone. 

Suggestion: I would move the icons and data much closer to the actual data points on the chart. There are too many connecting lines.

Thanks to Heather for sharing on Linkedin!


What's Your Ideal Workplace?

What's Your Ideal Workplace? infographic

Based on your own individual personality, the What's Your Ideal Workplace? infographic from Quill.com examines the best types of office environments to maximize your work performance.

Are you looking for a new position in a more fitting workplace? Or are you attempting to create an office setup that will maximize your employees’ skills? This infographic will help you match common work personality types with their ideal office spaces, from cubicles and open workspaces to co-working and work from home options.

Don’t know your work personality? Take the test.

Many companies are just beginning to realize that workplace design directly impacts employee performance, yet research shows that 3 in 4 U.S. workers are not in optimal workplace environments.

I love the connection to taking your own work personality test. This makes the infographic design personal and relevant to each individual reader. It's informative, but personal.

The illustration of each different workplace layout helps readers understand the differences almost instantly. It's a design with conceptual illustrations, but the statistics are also visualized, making them easier to understand as well. The personality color-coding is consistent throughout the design.

Great layout on the infographic landing page as well. Descriptive text with links, social sharing buttons, the full infographic and embed code at the bottom. The URL of the landing page is also included in the infographic image file itself, to make it easy to find the original, full-size version from sites that share but don't link. Everything needed to make it easy to find and easy to share.

Thanks to Cheryl for sharing the link!


Kitchen Trends to Consider and Avoid

Kitchen Trends to Consider and Avoid infographic

Kitchen Trends to Consider (and Avoid) for Your Remodel is a comprehensive infographic from The Home Depot, covering the current kitchen design trends and top reasons to remodel your own.

A kitchen makeover can seem daunting and out of reach, but simple updates to cabinets, countertops, and colors can help an old and ignored kitchen feel fresh, fashionable, and, best of all, functional.

The following infographic from The Home Depot gives expert designer Kerrie Kelly’s tips on the hottest trends in new cabinets, countertops, colors and accents, and pointers for how to take your kitchen from drab to fab. Kelly’s design advice (don’t be afraid of color!) as well as warnings against what to avoid (go easy on the patterns), will give you all the latest in kitchen remodel trends. From the light, airy look of white cabinets, to the natural, organic look of elements like limestone and forestry, there is a trendy style for every taste.

And if keeping up with DIY television shows isn’t enough reason to get started, we’ve got three essential reasons for you to roll up your sleeves and get moving on your kitchen renovation. An updated kitchen affects your biggest investment — your home — as well as your quality of life. (Hint: Did you know that 90 percent of people report a greater desire to be home after a remodel?) Read the infographic for more reasons to get started, and visit this remodel planning guide for actionable ideas and advice.

Generally, I recommend against using photos in an infographic design, but the use of photos here is crucial to communicating the different design trends and kitchen looks. The combination fo photos with simple, one-color data visualizations works very well, and clearly communicates the different aspects of each design and function.

This is also a fantastic case-study in choosing an infographic topic that is compatible and related to your business. This isn't an advertisement for Home Depot, linking to specific products on their site. Instead, it's informative to consumers and actionable information they use to make their own purchase decisions. The information included is valuable to everyone that has a kitchen, and is likely to be shared often.

Thanks to The Daily Meal for sharing the infographic!




The Mother of All Mother's Day Infographics

Your Guide to the Business of Mother's Day may be the reigning Mother of All Mother's Day infographics from TheShelf.com covering practically everything you'd ever want to know about the business of Mother's Day. However, the data visualization portions need some help.

Mother's Day is right around the corner, creeping up on both consumers and brands alike. And even though, year after year, the majority of presents are bought super last minute, our spending on Mom is off the charts! 

...And why shouldn't it be, the wonderful women in our lives are worth everything that we can throw at them (assuming it's good) on their special day, and that's why we've created this pretty huge rundown of all things Mother's Day.

This is a data-heavy infographic that breaks my 5-second rule. Instead of trying to tell one story really well, they threw in every bit of data they could get their hands on. They have so many sections, it's worth taking a closer look at a few to see what we can learn from the design choices.

The dedicated landing page is very well put together! Plenty of text for SEO and custom wording in the social sharing buttons and even custom social images to make sharing the infographic super-easy for readers! My only complaint is that they aren't sized for the social media sites. Twitter needs images with an aspect ratio of 2:1.

Let's take a closer look at one of the sections:

When you mix some data visualized and some data shown in text alone, the visualized data is perceived as more important to readers. These data points shown in just text is usually ignored by readers because it wasn't important enough to visualize.

If you follow me, you'll know that I have a specific pet peeve with designers getting the sizes of circles wrong when used to visualize data. [See False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics]

The circles is this design don't match any of the data. I'll demonstrate here. The total area of Greeting Cards at 80% should be exactly four times the area of the The Books circle at 20%. However, you can see here that I can easily fit seven of the Books circles in the Greeting Cards circle with much more room to spare!


The data may be good, but the visualization is all wrong. It looks like the designer was eye-balling the sizes instead of actually visualizing data. Things like this make me skeptical, and begin to question every other visualization in the whole design. 

Let's look at another section:

The flower is a pie chart, so it needs to follow the Golden Rule of Pie Charts! It MUST add up to 100%! However, this flower/pie chart adds up to 129%! What??? The 63% section by itself should be more than half of the flower, but it's shown as less than half.

One you start looking you'll find more problems. Why is 84% represented by 51 out of 56 people icons? That's 91%. Separately, why would you choose 56 icons to represent the total of 100%? Use 100 icons!

Lots of good data included in this infographic, but the design needs to go back to the drawing board.

Thanks to Sabrina for sending in the link!


Next Generation Interactive Scientific Poster

The Next Generation Scientific Poster project by The Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel, Germany takes scientific data visualization and designed a physical, interactive interface for audiences. As a result, they founded The Science Communication Lab as a spin-off from the academy so they could offer this expertise to researchers in the scientific community all over the world.

Check out this video demonstration on YouTube:

From their description:

The classical poster does often not offer enough space for the sheer complexity of the contents – texts, pictures, graphs and tables – used to convey scientific research today which causes inability to communicate contents and statements concisely. The classical poster also lacks an appropriate possibility for continuous updates which are necessary to include newer research results and would do justice to today‘s constant changes of information. 

The interactive poster is a a new method of presenting scientific topics in an attractive way, offering the user an easier access to the contents and a clearly improved possibility of comprehension. The illustrated topics are supposed to function self-explanatory and long-lasting which means that the viewer can decide on the depth and duration of the information process.

The interactive poster can be used for various purposes: For the internal demonstration of the research projects (poster sessions), on expert conferences and conventions in an international context. The newly developed technology -LED displays with a touch frame- can be used in a more reliable and long-lasting way than conventional projection technologies.

Thanks to Pieter Torrez from Scigrades for the link and his interview article with Professor Tom Duscher