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

Infographic Design

Infographics Design | Presentations
Consulting | Data Visualizations

Strata Conference Discount Code
DFW DataViz Meetup
NEXT EVENT: February 23, 2016

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

Search the Cool Infographics site

Custom Search

Subscriptions:

 

Feedburner

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

Entries in design (454)

Friday
Apr152016

The Truthful Art by Alberto Cairo: Interview & Giveaway

The Truthful Art is the newest book by Alberto Cairo, and the second book of a longer, planned series. Following the huge acclaim and success of his last book, The Functional Art, Alberto expertly dives into getting data visualizations both accurate and designed for effective communication. 

This month I am giving away one signed copy of The Truthful Art! Register on the Giveaways Page by April 30th to be entered.

The Truthful Art explains:

• The role infographics and data visualization play in our world

• Basic principles of data and scientific reasoning that anyone can master

• How to become a better critical thinker

• Step-by-step processes that will help you evaluate any data visualization (including your own)

• How to create and use effective charts, graphs, and data maps to explain data to any audience

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami, where he teaches courses on infographics and data visualization. He is also director of the Visualization program of UM's Center for Computational Science, and Visualization Innovator in Residence at Univisión, besides being a consultant for several tech companies. He is the author of the books The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (2012) and The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication (2016).

Everyone should follow Alberto Cairo on Twitter (@albertocairo)! He is one of the most vocal dataviz experts online, and shares his wisdom and insights openly. Also, you can download a sample of the new book with the first 40 pages of the book available on Google Drive.

I sent Alberto a handful of questions about The Truthful Art:

Who is the book intended for?

In the Epilogue I joke that I wrote 'The Truthful Art' for my past self, 8 or 10 years ago. As a journalist and designer, I didn't receive appropriate training in data reasoning in college, and that led me to make many mistakes in my career. The book is for communicators of any kind (journalists, graphic designers, marketing folks) who need to deal with data on a regular basis. It's certainly a book about data visualization and infographics, but it also covers the steps that come before you start designing anything: Getting your information as right as possible.

How do you define the difference between a visualization and an infographic?

In the book I explain that the boundary between these and other genres is very fuzzy. For me, an infographic is a combination of words and visuals (charts, maps, diagrams, illustrations) that makes a certain story understandable for people. The designer decides what data to show, and how to structure it, sometimes as a narrative or story. A data visualization doesn't necessarily tell a story, but it enables people to come up with their own conclusions, by letting them explore the information. Infographics emphasize explanation, data visualizations emphasize exploration.

What does in mean for a visualization to be truthful?

The whole book deals with this topic. In general, it requires a proper, honest, and thorough exploration of your information; asking people who know more than you do about it; and then a proper choice of visual forms to represent it.

Why are we more likely to accept visual information as truth?

It's not just visual information, it's any kind of information. We human beings aren't skeptical by nature. Our default is belief.

It is only when we become aware of the multiple ways our own brain, and other people, can trick us that we begin questioning what we see, read, hear, and feel. It is true, though, that recent research has shown that visualizations make messages more credible; this is something that can be used for good or for evil.

I don't know why many of us tend to take visualizations at face value, but it may have to do with the fact that most of us unconsciously associate charts and data maps with science. Those graphics look so precise, so crisp, so elegant! They must be accurate and truthful, right? --Well, perhaps not!

How difficult is it to choose the right chart style?

Not that difficult if you think about the message that you want to convey, or the tasks you want to enable, instead of relying just on your personal aesthetic preferences. I love maps, and I wrote an entire, long chapter about them for the book, but that doesn't mean that everything should be a map. A map may give you certain insights, but may also obscure others. In many cases, a chart may be better.

How can we become better skeptics and critical thinkers when we see data visualizations?

The key is to remember a maxim that I repeat in the book: A visualization is not something to be seen, but something to be read. Approach data visualizations and infographics not as beautiful illustrations (although beauty is a very important feature) to be looked at quickly, but as visual essays. Read them carefully, ask yourself if the designer is showing everything that needs to be shown. Remember that a single number or variable means very little on its own. In infographics, context is everything, and comparisons are paramount.

Is complexity the enemy of good data visualization design?

Far from it. Many designers believe that data visualizations and infographics are intended to “simplify” data. As my friend, the designer Nigel Holmes, has repeatedly said, infographics shouldn't simplify, but clarify. Clarification in some cases means reducing the amount of information you present, but in many others it requires you to increase it. In the book I show some examples of graphics that fail because their designers reduced the data so much that they rendered it meaningless. If a story is complex, its representation will necessarily be complex as well.

This said, it is good to be reminded of that old maxim commonly attributed to Einstein: Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. Over-complicated visualizations are also problematic. If your message is simple or trivial, why creating an extremely intricate graphic?

What’s available for readers on the book website: http://www.thefunctionalart.com/p/the-truthful-art-book.html?

For now, www.thefunctionalart.com contains my blog, contact information, information about both books, and some other resources. I have added software tutorials, and will soon post some of the data from the book. My professional website, http://www.albertocairo.com/, which will be launched soon, will contain more resources.

Are you speaking at any upcoming presentations or webinars?

Yes. I post most of my speaking engagements and consulting gigs here: http://www.thefunctionalart.com/p/speaking-schedule.html

Where’s the best place to follow you online?

My blog and Twitter. I use Twitter (@albertocairo) to take notes for myself, and save interesting resources, so if you want to see what I see or read what I read, that's the place to go!

 

Thursday
Mar312016

A New Visme: Huge Update to the Online Design Tool

The new Visme is here. Following eight months of dedicated work to address more than 30 user requests, Visme now gives its users an even smoother workflow. By improving user experience, development infrastructure, and scalability, the new Visme enables faster deployment and increased productivity with a familiar interface.

Of course, the best way for a design platform like Visme to share the new features is with an infographic designed using their own tool! You can see the infographic and all of the update features in this Visme blog post.

If you're not already familiar with Visme, it's an easy-to-use online visual content editor that allows you to create stunning presentations, reports, infographics, interactives, and more. Used by designers worldwide as their vector design platform that replaces the need for traditional software apps like Adobe Illustrator or Microsoft PowerPoint. With Visme, you can visualize stories and data, which is why it’s trusted by 300,000+ marketers, communicators, executives, educators, and nonprofits from 50+ countries.

With the upgraded Visme, you can:

  • Produce an alluring narrative with the revamped text editor and updated text widgets. Custom styling and padding, along with a spread of lively fonts, give your words an illustrative charm that bounces off the screen, transforming dull text blocks into something to see.

  • Move multiple objects and copy to them to slides to reorganize your story without hassle. No need for tedious work when you can duplicate and tweak rather than constantly starting anew or pasting too much and working backwards.

  • Create a global color palette to guarantee consistency throughout a complex project. This allows you to keep track of colors in a visual language in order to design quicker without guesswork or extra steps.

  • Choose from millions of free images to present a more striking take on your content. Don't spend hours online looking for the right picture and if you can even use it. Brighten up your work with ease and efficiency to grab your audience's attention without entering a labyrinth.

  • Record audio, upload your own or choose from a collection of high-quality music clips to strengthen a presentation with a narration or background music. Audio gives your content an extra level of exciting depth. Manage timing and fade control from one intuitive panel.

  • Expand your data storytelling tactics with new chart types and a selection of thousands of adjustable vector shapes and icons. Go far beyond standard and avoid being repetitive with new data visualization capabilities. You can even make them animated.

  • Get started quickly with a vastly expanded library of templates and themes, tailored for specific industries and purposes. You'll have the right look for exactly what you're doing.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Visme Founder Payman Taei in this webinar for Visme members, where he also demonstrated the new capabilities of the updated Visme design platform:

It's time to step up your game and make your presentations and infographics more impactful and effective. Try Visme for FREE, and when you're ready to subscribe, use the discount code VISME30 for 30% OFF for the lifetime of your account!

Thursday
Mar032016

Weather Portraits 2014 US Cities

Weather Portraits 2014 US Cities

Weather Portraits 2014 US Cities infographic poster is Nicholas Rougeux's project for visualizing weather data. The poster shows diagrams of daily wind and temperatures during one year for the most populated city in each state. He tried many different ways to visualize his data, a process that he outlined in his blog post, Making of the Weather Portraits poster. The final infographic poster can be seen above.

Each diagram includes five daily measurements for an full year in a city: wind direction, wind speed, high temperature, low temperature, and range of temperatures. 

 

Poster prints for 2014 and 2015 are available for purchase.

Colorful diagrams display five daily measurements for an full year in each city: wind direction, wind speed, high temperature, low temperature, and range of temperatures. Data were collected from the Quality Controlled Local Climatological Data (QCLCD) provided freely by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

Thanks to Nick for sending in his project!

Saturday
Feb272016

Using Visuals to Enhance Your Credibility

Infographics and visuals have become the lifeblood of storytellers, be it marketers, professors, presenters, etc. They are constantly battling short attention spans, information overload, and little vested interest from their audience. The smart marketer knows their target, and comes with a battle plan to defend against all of these things. This is where visuals come in.

Reasons to Use Visuals

We’ve relied on visuals for everything from street signs and movie banners to websites and presentations. Using visuals to express information has long been a part of our history. Here are just a few more reasons to use them in your presentations and marketing efforts:

1.     Getting Attention

A visual makes information stand out more than just text alone. Studies estimate that between 50-80% of the human brain is dedicated to forms of visual processing.

On social media, they simply take up more real estate than their text only counterparts. A post with some type of visual content has 94% more total views on average than content without images, according to MDG advertising.

2.     Simplicity

As humans, we’re simply wired to receive rich visual information, and can understand more complex information when it is presented visually. Infographics are a great way to provide your audience with context when displaying statistics that are otherwise meaningless.

3.     Credibility

Credibility is one of the biggest reasons to use visuals. Put a statistic in an article and it is questioned. Put a statistic in a visual and it is fact.

In fact, every form of visual information lends credibility to what is presented. 46.1% of people say a website’s design is the number one way to determine the credibility of a company, according to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab.

This works the same way in presentations. In 1986, a 3M-sponsored study at the University of Minnesota School of Management found that presenters who use visual aids are 43% more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action.

Use This Power Responsibly

In light of this information, it is important to use this responsibly. Providing accurate information is the most important thing content marketers and visual storytellers will do. No matter how beautifully crafted your infographic or visual is, it can be destroyed by one misrepresented fact, or out-of-context statistic.


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. 
Wednesday
Jan272016

Color Trends from 2015

Color Trends of 2015 infographic

Hopefully by now you have stopped mistaking the date for 2015. So as we say our final good byes to 2015, let us take a look back on the year with Shutterstock's Color Trends of 2015 infographic.

 

Color Infographic Video from Shutterstock on Vimeo

Shutterstock's data team identified the fastest growing colors over the past year by matching pixel data with image download behavior from our customers including brand marketers and creative professionals around the
world.

The report identifies four colors that have grown most in popularity this year are:
Color #01B1AE contains mainly GREEN color, considered cyan and a cool color.
Color #2e1a47 contains mainly BLUE color, considered a dark pastel violet color.
Color #40c1ac contains mainly GREEN color, also considered cyan and a cool color.
Color #1F2A44 contains mainly BLUE color, considered a very dark desaturated blue.

Also an interactive map illustrates the top colors making an impact in 20 countries around the world. 
Thanks to Jenn for sending in the link!
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.

Wednesday
Jan062016

Christmas Quiz: 10 Most Popular Stories

Christmas Quiz: 10 Most Popular Stories infographic

How well do you think you know your Christmas stories? Especially now immediately after the holidays?  Take the Christmas Quiz: 10 Most Popular Stories by Unplag and see how many you can guess right! 

Have you ever resorted to the Internet for Christmas must-do lists? Obviously, this thing can stand you in good stead to timely cope with holiday chores. Aside from stocking stuffers and holiday menus, you need to take care of leisure time activities too. So, why not add a quiz with the most popular Christmas stories to your list? Unplag created the one especially for you! It’s high time to remember the admired plots and characters and find out if you can guess all of them.

The creators of this infographic were quite creative. They told 10 of the most popular Christmas stories with a minimal amount of icons and illustrations! Do you think they choose the right ones? Would you have told the stories differently? Either way, this infographic is a fun holiday quiz to play with family and friends. 

Thanks to Anastasia for sending in the link!

Wednesday
Dec302015

Designing Infographics That Last

The web is inundated with new content on an hourly basis. So much so that it can be hard for any content to stand out. Readers have an attention span shorter than a goldfish! With trending hashtags, sponsored posts and the brevity of posting with fewer than 140 characters, hot trending topics often play a factor in the success of your infographics. But it doesn’t have to. 

While we’re busy flitting from one project to the next, always looking ahead, it’s possible to lose track of our content once it has passed the design phase. But the long-term success of your content relies on more than just good design. I define the Online Lifespan of your infographic as the amount of time it remains relevant to the audience, and it plays a huge role in the measurable success of your content. 

First, you need to determine your project’s goals. What is your goal for this infographic? Are you looking for a short-term boost in traffic? Or are you looking to post content that readers will view and share for years to come? 

Sometimes your infographic works with an online lifespan somewhere in between. For example, the annual “Death & Taxes” poster visualizes the Federal Budget and has a lifespan of a year before its information becomes outdated when a new budget is released.

Death and Taxes poster infographic

SOURCE: Timeplots

If you’re looking for longevity, however, choosing a lasting topic for your content can work to your advantage. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • More bang for your buck: It essentially costs you the same amount of time and resources to design an infographic with a short online lifespan as it would for a design with a long lifespan. You spend the same amount of time and effort in your design and research, but gain two very different results.
  • Visibility: No one will be searching for the Top 10 Christmas Traditions in 2015 after December 25, 2015, so all of your traffic needs to happen within a short period of time. A longer-lasting way to frame this infographic would be to create a timeline of Christmas traditions over the last few hundred years. Although this isn’t typically “evergreen” content, you’ll see a resurgence of traffic every year around Christmas time. Without a hard end-date, your infographics can live on driving views, backlinks and social shares for years to come.

History of Christmas Traditions infographic

SOURCE: Balsam Hill

  • Less maintenance: Once you’ve created a piece of evergreen content, there’s little to no maintenance necessary to keep your content relevant.

While there are situations where trendy and timely content can work in your favor, creating content with a longer online lifespan can lead to longer lasting success. It all comes down to the topic choice and the type of data.

Selecting your topic is the most important factor in determining the online lifespan of your infographic. Jumping on a breaking news topic is a great way to get your client some quick visibility, but does little to increase its long-term exposure. However, coming up with truly evergreen content like the infographic below will keep your content relevant long after you’ve created it. 

Wine and Food Pairing Chart infographic

SOURCE: Wine Folly

Keep these goals in mind when selecting a topic for your next infographic. A blend of trending topics and evergreen content can build a very robust content strategy.

Wednesday
Dec232015

Old vs. New Graphic Design

The Ultimate Battle- Old vs New- Graphic Design infographic

The New Media Company has created the infographic The Ultimate Battle: Old vs New Graphic Design to explore 8 different aspects of graphic design and compare how the methods have changed through the years.

Are you an old school or a newbie designer?  

If you have ever worked in a Design Studio you will have experienced the constant conflict between “Old” and “New” Design... 

You know the ones: "Quark is better than InDesign", "We didn't have the internet in my day." Here we take a look back at some of the tools that older designers used to use and compare them to todays modern technologies. 

Fun variation on the side-by-side comparison infographic style.

Thanks to Danielle for sending in the link!