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

Infographic Design

Infographics Design | Presentations
Consulting | Data Visualizations

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Entries in charts (143)

Wednesday
Feb172016

Great DataViz Design: Justice Scalia's Ideology

Great DataViz Design: Justice Scalia's Ideology visualization infographic

The Upshot at the New York Times consistently does a great job visualizing data. How Scalia Compared With Other Justices is a fantastic example of clean, effective storytelling with chart design!

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia will leave the Supreme Court with equal numbers of conservative and liberal justices. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is likely to be the swing vote in most cases.

For social media, they published a simplified version that just shows the current Justices:

Justice Scalia's Ideology infographic

Why is this design so good? Here are my thoughts on why this chart design is great:

  • Minimal chart legend. The color key shows only 2 colors to designate the party of the nominating President. The names of all the Justices are built into the chart itself, which keeps that important information tied to the data in the reader's field of view. Default charts in MS Office would have created a different color for every Justice, and made this chart confusing and visually noisy.
  • Minimal axis labels. Notice the x-axis only shows a label for each decade. You don't need to know where 2004 is specifically. I think they could have minimized further to just the first and last years.
  • Use of opacity. Justice Scalia is the main story of the visual, so his line is heavier weight and bright color. This is a great use of preattentive attributes! All of the other Justices are shown is lighter colors for reference, and the main story stands out.
  • Minimal grid lines. There are a lot of lines on this chart, so only a few gridlines are included to keep the chart as simple as possible.
  • Minimal Text on the page. The chart is connected to a full article, but on this landing page the data visualization tells the story all by itself. The description text on the page is only two sentences long, leaving the visual as the visual centerpiece. 
Thursday
Jan072016

Three Simple Resolutions to Design Better DataViz

Welcome back to the office! You’re back to work in the new year with energy and ambitions of doing better work than you’ve ever done before. Very quickly though, you fall back into the old routine and find yourself making the same charts and the same presentation slides as always. There are tight deadlines, pressure from your boss, and it’s just easier to use the templates.

Let me offer a few simple resolutions that can make your content and business communication significantly better this year.

Visualize Your Data

Visuals are so much more powerful than text and numbers. I can’t tell you how many presentations and infographics I see from lazy designers that just make the numbers really big.

“Big fonts are NOT data visualizations!”

Picture Superiority Effect infographic

Our brains process visual information faster and more easily than text, and visual information is 650% more likely to be remembered by your audience than text alone (Brain Rules, John Medina, 2009). If you want to communicate a clear message, and you want your audience to remember that message, make it visual.

Visualize Your Data infographic

Look at these two statistics. They could be on a presentation slide, in a report, or included in an infographic. Your eye is drawn to the visualized number on the left, with both a doughnut chart and an illustration of the concept of GPS location. You as the reader are more likely to remember that statistic on the left than the number on the right, which just shows the stat in a big font size.

Remove Chart Legends

It’s frustrating that the most popular charting software in the world, Microsoft Office, always includes a chart legend by default. The “tyranny of the default” is that most designers will just accept it, and not improve their charts. It’s your responsibility as the dataviz designer to make your charts as easy as possible to understand.

Legends that are separate from the visualization of the data make your readers work much harder, looking back and forth between the data and the legend, to understand your visualization. Make understanding your data visualization much faster and easier by moving the data descriptions into the chart itself, and connected to the actual data.

Remove Chart Legends infographic

Here you can see the default column chart created by PowerPoint on the left, and an improved version on the right. In this example, I removed the chart legend and added the data descriptions below each column. To add a visual element, I also added stock icons to visually represent the age groups as images on top of the chart. These chart improvements only took 10 minutes to create, and the chart is much easier to read.

Try New Ways to Visualize Your Data

You do want your audience to remember your data, right? You’re trying to help them make better decisions based on your information, and for that to be successful they have to be able to remember your data. Purchase decisions, voting decisions, health decisions, financial decisions, business decisions, and many more are all impacted by the information people have, and can remember.

Breaking out of the Big 3 charts is tough. Bar charts, line charts and pie charts (the Big 3) make up most of the dataviz in the world. However, they can also make your data look like everyone else’s. In order for visuals to be memorable to your audience the visuals need to be unique and different.

Visualizing Percentages infographic

Consider a single percentage statistic: 36%. A percentage is actually two numbers in comparison. Your data value as it compares to 100%. Pie charts are the most common way to visualize a percentage, but there are easily more than 25 different ways to visualize this statistic.

Visit sites these sites to discover new ways to visualize your data:

Design Better DataViz This Year

I ask you to make your own resolution to improve your charts and dataviz designs this year. Start with the three resolutions above, and start communicating data more effectively.

Tuesday
Jun162015

Visme 3.0 Design Platform Launches Improved User Interface

Visme Infographic Templates

Visme is an online design platform, and can be used to create infographics, presentations, banners, reports, and even resumes. With over 200,000 users, Visme is being used by many as a replacement for expensive desktop applications like Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Illustrator.

"Visme epitomizes everything we strive for. At the core we are a visualization tool and our mission is to simplify the ability for anyone to easily transform their thoughts and ideas into engaging visual content," - Founder Payman Taei

In April 2015, the team at Hindsite Interactive launched Visme 3.0, a complete redesign, moving to a cleaner, easy-to-use user interface. The redesign has made a major move towards flatter design elements that help users focus on the content they are creating without being distracted by the interface tools.

Visme Flat Design Interface Updates

If you’re not a professional designer that can invest in a high-end hardware and software setup or don’t have the time or budget to hire a professional, Visme is a great platform to create eye-catching visual content with minimal effort. You can start with one of the many professional templates, and then customize your design by changing colors, rearranging the layout, uploading your own images, inserting video, building simple data visualizations using the Graph Tool, or use any of the millions of free icons and images from the huge built-in library.

Specifically for infographics design, the built-in Graph Tool and Infograph Widgets can be very helpful. Although you may import more complex data visualizations created elsewhere, the Graph Tool let’s you build simple charts directly in your design by entering the data and editing the chart settings. This is a huge advantage over many other online design tools that only provide chart shapes and objects that you have to adjust manually to match your data. Accuracy of your data visualizations in an infographic is crucial!

Visme Graph Tool

Here you can see a simple area chart created with the Visme Graph Tool. Over 600 data points were uploaded to create this simple data visualization. Because it was built with the Graph Tool, the chart is editable as the data set continues to grow in the future. The design has been inserted here using the embed code created by the Visme platform to display the chart. As future updates are made to the chart on the Visme site, the most current version will always be displayed here. For infographics, you can update the data in your design, and every site that uses the embed code will always display the latest version of your design.

Original: http://my.visme.co/projects/growth-of-infographics-in-search-613ce1

 Personally, I’d like to see the Graph Tool expand into more visualization styles, and give the users more ability to customize the charts it creates. It’s pretty good with the simple charts, but I hope this is only the starting point for the Visme team. I hear that improvements to the Graph Tool are in the plan for release later this year.

Infographics are made to be shared, and the Visme tool gives you plenty of options. In addition to embed code for both animated and static sharing, you can also download your design as a static image file (JPG or PNG) or a PDF file for easy distribution.    You can also download as HTML5 version which would retain all interactivity of your live version and open locally in any browser without third party software or plugins.

Two other advantages of designing your infographics in Visme. First, you can keep your designs private, and only allow those that have the link to view your design. You can even password protect your design so only those with the link and the password can view your design. Second, you can see the analytics for your design in one place. This is a real challenge for tracking infographics online, and seeing the combined statistics of views and visits to your infographic is a fantastic feature. For everyone that shares your infographic on their own using the embed code, those viewer statistics are all gathered together in your Visme analytics dashboard.

Visme Analytics

 

Visme is free to everyone to try with many of the basic design tools. Paid plans start at just $6/month to unlock premium templates, along with the ability to manage privacy, download content, analytics and collaboration tools.

Special for readers of Cool Infographics, use the discount code VISME3 to get a lifetime 25% discount on any subscription.

 

Tuesday
Apr072015

Greek Mythology Family Tree

Greek Mythology Family Tree chart

Keeping track of Greek mythology’s genealogy can cause a headache. But now, Useful Charts has released a new update to the ultimate cheat sheet called the Greek Mythology Family Tree chart poster! The tree starts with Chaos from the Primordial gods, and finishes through the last of the Olympians.

The poster is available for purchase on Amazon for $24.95

Fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books will love this poster! Covering all three generations of Greek gods (Primordial, Titans, and Olympians), it displays both the Greek and Roman names for the gods as well as their titles or functions. It is also color-coded to distinguish between sea gods, sky gods, earth gods, underworld gods, personifications, monsters, demigods, and mortals.

This is a great network map design, and way more complicated than your standard family tree. The images help tremendously.

Created by Matt Baker at UsefulCharts.com

For a detailed look at the poster, check out Matt’s video:

Wednesday
Dec242014

The Graphic Continuum - Desktop Version

The Graphic Continuum - Desktop Version

Jon Schwabish and Severino Ribecca have released a full-color, double-sided, laminated 8.5”x11” desktop version of The Graphic Continuum, available for only $10 until the end of the year when the price will go up to $13. This is a smaller version of The Graphic Continuum poster they released earlier this year.

Nearly 90 graphic types grouped into 6 categories on a laminated 8.5”x11” sheet. It does not include every type of graphic, nor does it display every type of link between visualization, but it serves as a thought-starter. Use it to develop ideas, consider different options, or simply as a piece of art.

A fantastic reference of data visualization methods to give you some ideas for ways you can visualize your data differently.

The Graphic Continuum - Desktop Version Page 1

The Graphic Continuum - Desktop Version Page 2

Thursday
Dec042014

The Pianogram

The Pianogram Joey Cloud infographic

The Pianogram is a histogram using the design style of a piano keyboard to show the frequency of notes in a given song. Designed by software programmer Joey Cloud, the site has a handful of preloaded songs, but you can upload the MIDI file for any song to create a custom pianogram.

The visual below shows how often each key gets pressed relative to the rest for a given piano piece. It is a piano-looking histogram, so I named it a Pianogram! You can take a look at the pre-loaded options, try uploading your own piano songs (MIDI files only), or download the pianogram as a PNG image. Enjoy!

This a fun visualization tool. Here’s Billy Joel’s Piano Man, just because it seemed the most appropriate:

 

The Pianogram Billy Joel Piano Man

Found on FlowingData and FastCo Design

Friday
Oct102014

5 Great Online Tools for Creating Infographics

Professional infographic designers rely primarily on a core vector graphics software program to create their infographics designs. The main advantage is that all the icons, charts, images, illustrations, and data visualizations are treated as separate objects that can be easily moved, resized, overlapped, and rotated. No matter where you create the individual design elements, the final infographic design is usually put together in a vector graphics program.

Creating infographics using online tools has never been easier. In the last few years a number of online tools have emerged that allow anyone to create great visual content.  Whether you are working on a project for work, personal use, or social media, each new project starts with a template. With the dimensions laid out for you, you can focus your attention on quickly creating effective designs. Search, drag, and publish - it can be that simple.

These new tools are vector graphics applications that run in your browser as a replacement for using an expensive professional desktop application like Adobe Illustrator to put your infographic design together.  Each one offers different tools, image libraries, charts, fonts and templates as a starting point.  None of these have the full capabilities of a professional desktop application, but you probably don’t need that much power to create a simple infographic.

In this article, we take a quick look at 5 of the best online tools for creating infographics: Visme, Canva, Easel.ly, Piktochart, and Infogr.am. All of these tools are evolving quickly, and this is just a snapshot of their current capabilities.

 

Visme screenshot

1) Visme (visme.co)

Visme allows you to create interactive presentations, infographics and other engaging content. With tons of templates, and huge library of free shapes & icons to choose from, Visme has you creating awesome visual content right away.

The templates are set up simply and beautifully. If you wanted, you could just edit the placeholder text, insert your own, and publish your infographic.

One of the greatest aspects of this service is changing percentages within the charts. All you have to do is click on the graphic you would like to change, enter a new number, and the chart changes to reflect the new information automatically. Saving you hours of frustration trying to do it on your own.

Pros:

  • Creates infographics, presentation, animations, ad banners, and custom layouts.

  • Insert and edit chart objects directly by changing the data values.

  • Large library of icons and images.

  • Embed YouTube videos directly into designs.

  • Special pricing for students & teachers.

Cons:

  • The basic free version is limited.

    • Only 3 projects.

    • Must include the Visme logo.

    • Limited access to charts and infograph widgets.

  • JPG download is still in Beta, with a few bugs.

Price: Basic version is free with pricing plans available

 

Canva screenshot

2) Canva (canva.com)

Canva just celebrated their 1-year anniversary last month, and has made a big splash in the online design space.  Your experience kicks off with a great “23 Second Guide to Beautiful Design,” where they walk you through a brief introduction to their design program.

After finishing the brief tutorial, you can start a new design. Canva is filled with options, whether you are working on a project for work, personal, or social media. Each new project comes with a template for the project you choose to work on. With the dimensions done for you, you can focus your attention on creating beautiful designs in seconds.

Pros

  • Excellent (and short) intro tutorial to get you started, and many more on advanced concepts.

  • Templates for social media, blogs, presentations, posters, business cards, invitations, and more.

  • Easy and intuitive to use.

  • Large library of images to choose from.

Cons

  • No editable chart objects. You need to import your own data visualizations as images.

  • Have to pay for different image assets individually, instead of a monthly subscription.

Price: Free, but you have to pay for Pro quality design assets individually

 

Easelly screenshot

3) Easel.ly (www.easel.ly)

Easel.ly is a great program, but lacks some of the guidance, and features, that come standard in other programs.

Easel.ly lacks a “How-To” introduction section to their program, and just kind of throws you into the design process right away. Their focus seems to be primarily based on infographic design. Whereas other programs offer a plethora of design project options.

If you’re just looking to design an infographic, this program will work well. If you want more variety, you’ll have to utilize one of the other programs in this list.

Pros:

  • Free.

  • Very basic design layouts and assets.

  • New charts feature allows some basic editable charts in your design.

  • Easy downloads for JPG and PDF versions.

Cons:

  • Not a very large selection of themes, called “Vhemes”.

  • Small library of image assets. You’ll want to upload your own images and icons.

Price: Free

 

Piktochart screenshot

4) Piktochart (piktochart.com)

Piktochart is one of the best looking programs on this list. All the information you need to get started is provided in their tour.

Their program is easy to use, and offers tons of freedom in building and editing your infographic using their simple graphic tools. They have categorized icons, resizable canvas, design-driven charts, and interactive maps to utilize.  

Their intuitive user interface is where Piktochart truly excels. All the tools you need to create are laid out intelligently, making your new job as a “designer” so much easier.

One of the coolest aspects of this program is that they show how versatile infographics are for different projects. Whether you’re creating for a classroom, office, website, or social media setting - Piktochart gives you the heads up on how to use infographics effectively.

Pros:

  • Themes and templates are of high design quality.

  • Intuitive. Allows you to edit anything and everything with ease.

  • Create infographics, reports, banners and presentations.

  • Embed videos from Youtube and Vimeo in your design.

Cons:

  • Limited selection of free templates. Higher quality templates are available with a Pro account.

  • $29 per month is a high subscription price compared to the others.

Price: Start for free with pricing packages available

 

Infogram screenshot

5) Infogr.am (infogr.am)

Infogr.am has got the best charts. For illustrating data, there are more than 30 different types of charts to choose from. Anything from bubble charts and tree maps to simple pie charts.

Editing data can be easily done in Infogr.am’s built-in spreadsheet, or you can import your own XLS, XLXS and CSV files.  Once your infographic has been edited and beautifully designed, you can save it to your computer as a PNG or PDF file with a paid subscription.

Pros:

  • Ability to create and edit great charts by changing data

  • Built-in Spreadsheet. Can also import your XLS, XLXS and CSV files

  • Widest variety of available chart types

  • Educational and Non-profit pricing plans available

  • Embed videos from Youtube and Vimeo in your design.

Cons:

  • Only creates infographics and charts

  • Small selection of infographic templates

  • No image library, you must upload your own image assets

  • Download options require paid subscription

  • The White Label subscription service is the most expensive options of the group

Price: Basic version is free with pricing plans available

 

Which design sites have you tried? Which tools are your favorites? Post in the comments.

Friday
Oct032014

The Graphic Continuum

The Graphic Continuum data visualization poster

The Graphic Continuum is a new poster of data visualization styles and methods from Job Schwabish and Severino Ribecca. Available as a printed poster for $25 on Mimeo.

The Graphics Continuum shows several ways that data can be illustrated individually or combined to show relationships. Use of various shapes, chart types, and colors can help identify patterns, tell stories, and reveal relationships between sets and types of data. Bar charts, or histograms, for examples, can illustrate a distribution of data over time, but they also can show categorical or geographic differences. Scatterplots can illustrate data from a single instance or for a period, but they also can be used to identify a distribution around a mean.

This set of charts does not constitute an exhaustive list, nor do the connections represent every possible pathway for linking data and ideas. Instead, the Graphic Continuum identifies some presentation methods, and it illustrates some of the connections that can bind different representations together. The six groups do not define all possibilities: Many other useful overlapping data types and visualization techniques are possible.

This chart can guide graphic choices, but your imagination can lead the way to other effective ways to present data.

The Graphic Continuum data visualization poster closeup 1

I’ve seen a few other attempts to gather and categorize data visualization techniques, and I really like this poster. One of the biggest challenges for people is to break out of the Big Three chart styles: bar charts, line charts, and pie charts. It doesn’t matter if they’re designing an infographic or a PowerPoint presentation, I am often asked to help clients find new ways to visualize their data.

The Graphic Continuum data visualization poster closeup 3

Jon Schwabish has posted a great article on Visual.ly about the development process and includes images of some other arrangements they attempted during the design process.

 

Tuesday
Mar182014

The Power of ACC Basketball

The Basketball Staff at CBS Sports has put together a handful of really good data visualizations showing the 29-year history of the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams.  The chart above shows Most Wins won in the Tournament by conference, color-coded by round.  These aren’t complicated designs, but the story they tell is very powerful.

Go N.C. State Wolfpack!  Fantastic win over Xavier tonight!  The Big East looks pretty strong too, but there’s nothing like ACC Basketball.  These data visualizations tell that story much better than text and numbers.  In Texas (Big 12), they just don’t seem to understand the importance of basketball.  Football is what you play in the off-season!  They have it reversed here in Texas, where football is much more important.

Here is that same data shown as a color-coded table that spells out the Most Tournament Wins by Year by year.  This looks like it could have been designed with Conditional Formatting in Microsoft Excel, but it’s done very well.  The simple color-coding adds context and makes the entire table easier to understand.

As an infographics design, the PNG image file itself should include a little more information, in case it gets shared online without the rest of the article (like this blog post).  It should list CBS Sports as the publisher/designer and the URL back to the original article.  I also would have used the conference logos along the y-axis instead of text.

Here’s their chart of overall NCAA Championship Wins over that same 29 year period.

 

 

Friday
Jan242014

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts - the Poster

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts infographic poster

Dr. Nathan Yau, PhD from FlowingData.com has charted the 100 most memorable quotes from American movies, as selected by the American Film Institute, into a data visualization series called Famous Movie Quotes as Charts.  He had designed the first handful of them a few years ago, but only recently got back into the project and completed all 100.  

These have now been compiled into a beautiful 24”x36” poster available for a limited time before the one-and-ONLY print run for $19.00.  Pre-order your copy this week here!

This 24” by 36” poster is printed on 80lb cover with a matte finish, each signed and hand-numbered.

There’s only going to be one printing, so take advantage of the special pre-order price while it lasts.

Shipping February 2014.

Each chart is a clear visualization of the movie quote, and easy for the audience to understand.  They are beautiful in their simplicity and can be very funny in their interpretation.

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts Jaws Chart

Here’s a link to the big version for all of the detail.