About

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.

Infographic Design

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Consulting | Data Visualizations

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Entries in design (417)

Friday
Dec192014

The World's Loudest Noises - An Audio Infographic

 

 

Loud noises can be unpleasant. But how loud is too loud? The World’s Loudest Noises is an interactive infographic from Air Conditioning Company that explains the loudest noises in the world and how much damage they could do to your ears. So next time your air conditioning kicks on and you feel like complaining… Just remember, there is always something louder.

Turn your volume down before you start clicking!

Our initial attempt to explain how loud air conditioners are via an internet page was, in our opinion, a minor disaster.

An indisputable fact is that 99.999% of us haven’t got a clue what a decibel either sounds like or looks like! Let’s be honest, we didn’t even know ourselves precisely what a decibel was!

So we started to delve into the dark world of decibels to make the blinking things easier to understand. We initially wanted to create an amazingly informative infographic to best explain how loud our air conditioners are. However, we didn’t know where the ‘cut-off’ point should have been and we got somewhat carried away until we found the worlds loudest noise!

Despite all of our in-depth research, noise levels and decibels are still controversial and subjective. We found so many different accounts of how loud the same sound was. Indeed, most of our research showed that an aeroplane taking off is louder than a spaceship launch and surely this cannot be the case. Further investigation revealed that people forget to mention how far away they were when actually measuring the sounds. Also, based in London, we don’t live close enough to Cape Canaveral to run around waving our own decibel meter…..

Have some fun clicking around on our all-singing-and-dancing infographic below. Those of you who wish for a more academic approach can scroll to the bottom to check out our initial research.

An audio infographic! This is a new way to create an interactive infographic. Each of the sounds listed in the infographic above is clickable to play an audio sample of each noise. It’s more fun and entertaining than actually representing the decibels because there’s no way your computer speakers (or your mobile phone speakers) can reproduce some of the decibel levels shown here. Plus you have volume control.

I’m really disappointed that the vertical scale is out of proportion. The sounds should be accurately placed along the decibel scale, not just evenly spaced no matter what the values are. That’s just poor data visualization.

There’s a sharing issue that happens with an interactive infographic like this one. I was bale to get the embed code from the publisher, so all of the click-to-play sounds should work here on Cool Infographics as well. However, most people that share the infographic will only grab the JPG image file or click the sharing buttons, and that loses all of the interactivity included in the code. The sounds also don’t work on many iOS and mobile devices.

What other infographic topics could include sounds?

Thanks to David for sending in the link!

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

Wednesday
Dec032014

40 Brand Logos with Hidden Messages

40 Brand Logos with Hidden Messages infographic

Some of the best known logos hide the best kept secrets. 40 Brand Logos with Hidden Messages infographic designed by Oomph! reveals some of those secrets. How many did you already know?

You probably already know the story behind the famous FedEx logo and its clever use of negative space. (If you don’t, read this.) But of course, it’s hardly the only logo with a “hidden message.”

British plastic card maker Oomph has collected 40 such logos—check them out below. Amazon, Unilever and the Tour de France are particularly cool. How many of these sneaky messages would you have spotted without the help?

You can’t cover this topic without the visuals, and that’s why this infographic is so effective. It shows you the logos with clear explanations of the stories behind them.

The footer should include the uRL to the infographic landing page, so readers can find the original, full-size version when they find this design on other sites across the Internet.

Found on: http://www.adweek.com and http://www.thedrum.com

Wednesday
Nov122014

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design infographic

When you have your own website, there are plenty of decisions you have to make. The Responsive Web Design infographic from Verve gives helpful information about why you need to to seriously consider upgrading to a responsive design for your web page.

Is your website optimised effectively for all devices and platforms? Don’t just think mobile or desktop, think every simgle device and user on the web. Responsive websites are designed to provide an optimal viewing experience across all platforms

Nice visuals and illustrations that explain how responsive websites work.

Thanks to Dave for sending in the link!

Tuesday
Oct212014

Where Do Designer Dogs Come From?

Where Do Designer Dogs Come From? infographic

Where do Cocker Bassets come from? The answer is from a Cocker Spaniel and a Basset Hound! Where Do Designer Dogs Come From? infographic from Time explains the breeding patterns behind the multiple breeds of dogs.

Morkies. Cockapoos. Chiweenies. These dogs may not have serious names, but they’re a serious business. Known as ‘hybrid’ or ‘designer’ dogs, these canines are bred with a purpose – to optimize the best qualities of each parent.

Unlike some mixed breeds, designer dogs are generally born from two purebred parents. Depending on the qualities of the offspring, one puppy can be like having two dogs in one. Labradoodles, for instance, were first bred from labradors (which are common guide dogs) and poodles (with a low-shed coat) to be hypoallergenic service dogs. Puggles – a cross between a pug and a beagle – usually have a muzzle of a beagle, which can eliminate breathing problems often associated with the short-nosed pug.

Not all hybrids are desirable. Designer-dog critics says genetic experimentations are exacerbating the problem of puppy mills. For instance, when a puggle inherits a short snout from a pug and the hunting instincts from the beagle, it may not have a respiratory system that’s equipped to handle all the exercise it needs. These unwanted dogs often end up in shelters.

Despite the controversy, designer breeds have made a mark on the $60 billion pet market by commanding high prices that often exceed their purebred counterparts. And so long as the market continues to demand them, cavachons, pekeapoos and schnoodles are here to stay.

Bright, colorful network connections between breeds makes for a good infographic. curved, winding connections draw in readers to follow their favorite breeds.

The circle sizes have no meaning, just sized to fit the text within, which is misleading.  Disappointingly, the stats they do have are not visualized at all. The URL to the infographic landing page should be included in the footer so readers can find the full-size original version when they find this posted on other sites that don’t include a link.

Thanks to Sue for sending in the link!

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 Graphics 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
Sep162014

Beer Colors

Beer Colors Cans Visualization Infographic

Beer colors is a fun design idea that combines packaging design with beer label design, these beer label designs imitate Pantone® color chips.  Maybe more of a data visualization of colors than a true infographic, but I love it!

Concept and design based on the color of the beer. Each type of beer is associated with its corresponding Pantone color. The typeface chosen is HipstelveticaFontFamily in its bold version by José Gomes, thanks for sharing.

Designed by Spanish creative agency Txaber, this series of beer packaging labels show each brew type represented by its corresponding official color. 

Beer Colors Bottles Visualization Infographic

Found on creativebloq and BoingBoing

 

Thursday
Sep042014

Abby & Chris: Wedding Invitation

Abby & Chris: Wedding invitation

Another fun way to spruce up your life with visuals! The Abby & Chris Wedding invitation from Abby Ryan Design takes an ordinary wedding invitation, and makes it extraordinary with data v visualization Fun idea! Maybe try it out for your next party?!

Abby & Chris: Wedding invitation

This illustrative wedding package was designed to reflect the playfulness of Abby and Chris’s food truck wedding. First, a 18 x 24 screen printed wedding infographic that works as an invitation, program and menu. The poster was designed with the rehearsal dinner invitation as the bottom section so it could be removed for guests only coming to the wedding. Next, the save the date card, which focuses on important events in Abby and Chris’s relationship with the final date being their wedding. A wedding website was also created to keep their guests informed.

This is fun and original. A keepsake for all the guests! It also gives a lot more useful information than most wedding invitations!

Thanks to Abby for sending in the link!

Friday
Aug292014

False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics

Accuracy is the most important aspect of an infographic design!

Last week, the article The Truth about the Ice Bucket Challenge by Julia Belluz on Vox Media included the infographic, Where We Donate vs. Diseases That Kill Us, that used proportionally sized circles as its data visualization. The problem with this design is that the circle sizes don’t match the values shown. This is a false visualization and significantly over exaggerates the smaller amounts of money contributed to each charity and the deaths attributed to each cause.

This causes problems because readers often just look at the visuals without reading the actual numbers. They start with the assumption that a visualization accurately represents the data. The Vox Media story and infographic already have over 12,000 shares on Facebook, and this is a great case study for designers to understand how important it is to visualize data accurately.

As readers, we see the area of two-dimensional shapes on the page to represent the different values, but design software only allows width and height adjustments to size shapes. Designers make the mistake of adjusting the diameter of circles to match the data instead of the area, which incorrectly sizes the circles dramatically. It takes some geometry calculations in a spreadsheet to find the areas and then calculate the appropriate diameters for each circle. To demonstrate, I created this corrected version of the infographic.

False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics Revised

My Google Docs spreadsheet of the correct circle area and diameter calculations is available here.

Assuming this was a design mistake, and there was no intent to deceive the audience, this is a common mistake that many designers make.  So many designers, that I included an entire section on this topic in the Cool Infographics book to help designers understand how to size the area of circles.

I made one other improvement to the corrected design above by removing the color legend and listing the charities and causes of death right next to the appropriate circles. This makes the whole visualization easier for the audience to read by eliminating the need to look back-and-forth from the circles to the color legend to figure out what each circle represents.  Placing the text next to each circle keeps the information in the reader’s field of view which minimizes eye movement.

Sticking with the circles data visualization style, I wanted to take the design a little bit further. I would recommend one of two alternate improvements.  First, adding colored connecting lines is one way to make it easier for the audience to find the related circles in the columns sorted in descending order.

False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics Revised Lines

A second alternative would be to sort the lists to line up the related circles.  This makes it much easier for the audience to see the direct comparisons between charitable contributions and death rates related to the same cause.

False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics Revised Descending Sort

I’m passing over any discussion about whether using proportionally sized circles (a bubble chart) is the best visualization method for this data. If a designer makes the choice to use sized shapes, my point is that the data visualizations in the infographic must match the numbers using area.  David Mendoza published a good analysis worth reading and designed an alternative way to visualize the data in his article, This Bubble Chart Is Killing Me.

How else would you improve this design?

NOTE: I was able to contact the designer who created the infographic at Vox Media, and he had already realized his error after the infographic had been published. As I had guessed, he had mistakenly adjusted the diameter of the circles instead of the area. He told me that he’s working on updating the official infographic design in the article, but it hasn’t been published on the Vox Media site yet.