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.

 

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Looking for help creating your own infographics?  Randy’s infographic and data visualziation design company:

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Entries in design (408)

Thursday
Aug012013

Choosing a CMS for Your Business

Choosing a CMS for Your Business infographic

This graphic will help you figure out what is the best Content Management System (CMS) for you and your business. Discover what a CMS is, types of CMS, popular CMS, market shares and advantages with, The Most Popular CMS for Your Business Needs infographic posted on Dot Com Infoway

Chennai, India Dot Com Infoway (DCI), a premier IT company providing offshore IT outsourcing solutions to businesses across the globe, has announced the release of its latest infographic, titled “Content Management Systems: Choosing the Right One for Your Business Needs”. The infographic provides a top to bottom look at various CMSs and chalks out a road map for organizations, businesses and individuals looking to choose content management systems perfect for their needs.

The infographic outlines the fundamentals of content management systems, the industries in which they find use and the types of CMSs available. It is replete with information, data, statistics and illustrations such as the date of initial release, the platform used, the latest version, the number of themes it has, average setup and customization cost, average monthly maintenance cost, the number of websites using the CMS, the popular websites that use the platform and the top industries using the CMS.

“With the recent exponential growth of nightly builds of CMSs’ modules and plugins, we thought this would be the perfect time to showcase the CMS industry with an infographic that provides users with an all-around perspective. Our run through of key aspects of various CMSs, will help firms make better business decisions by taking advantage of all the information at their disposal,” said Venkatesh C. R., CEO of Dot Com Infoway.

The infographic also provides statistics on the market share of various content management systems. Based on the analysis and research data, WordPress, with a market share of 54.4%, has a competitive advantage over other top CMSs. Following WordPress, (with margins of difference of more than 45%) are Joomla and Drupal with market shares of 8.9% and 7% respectively.

Personally, I run this site on the Squarespace.com CMS platform, and I’m very surprised that it wasn’t listed in the infographic.  I realize there are over 1,200 CMS platforms, so they had to make some hard choices about which ones to include.

The design does a good job of using the platform logos to clearly identify the different players.  I wish the numerical data associated with each platform was visualized instead of just shown in text.  It very hard for a reader to compare the costs or stats between the platforms when all of the data is only in text.

Also, the data is not clearly sourced.  The sites where the data was gathered from are listed, but no specific links the pages with the actual data used, like market share numbers.  Most of the source sites are actually lookup and comparison tools, so it would be hard to list specific URLs for some of the data.

Found on bestinfographics.co

Friday
Jul192013

Units of Measure Calendar

An intriguing calendar that shows the date by using units of measurements commonly used. Designed by the team at ACRE in Singapore, you can buy your own Unit of Measure Calendar poster. There are two editions, a blue and black version as well as a black and copper.  

The idea of creating a calendar was always at the top of our heads. However, we needed an idea that was sound, that made sense. We went back to our roots for that big idea, and we stumbled upon the fact our agency is named after a unit of measure.

Things began to click into gear and the team worked to create a calendar that would highlight 12 units of measure . This brought a lot of symmetry to our design philosophy which melds sense and practicality together. This craft-centric calendar is designed to be practically functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. 

I do wish the high-resolution version was available to view online, but we can only see the gallery images.


Dimensions: 990 × 680 mm (39 × 26.75 in)

Found on Fast Co Design

Wednesday
Jul172013

Kim Rees and Dino Citraro - What Makes an Infographic Cool?

Guest Post by Kim Rees and Dino Citraro

 

When an Infographic Isn’t

Infographics are popular, useful, and seem to be an established part of our vernacular these days. They are easy to read, quick to digest, and for the most part, can require less work to create than a more in-depth data visualization. However, as with many things that are popular and useful, they have a dubious imposter that is frequently wrongly categorized. 

 

Digital Posters

Digital Posters are everywhere and almost entirely presented under the auspices of being an Infographic. These distant cousins confuse the definition of an Infographic because while they often might be easy to read and quick to digest, they fail to expand the essence of the data by adding context and metaphor. 

A collection of cats holding a variety of mobile devices may be adorable, but it is not an Infographic. A huddle of celebrities who all have a similarly peculiar personality trait might curious, but this also, is not an Infographic. Extremely large numbers surrounding nicely formed text treatments is not an Infographic.

All of these are examples of Digital Posters.

 

If You Want to Make an Infographic, Don’t Make a Digital Poster

You might still be confused by the revelation that not all things posing as Infographics are in fact genuine, but if it’s your job to create one, here are a few things to keep in mind:

 

Add Context

One of the most important things an Infographic can do is add context. Consider this example:

The illustration on the left represents the way this information would be presented in a Digital Poster. The illustration on the right shows the same information as an Infographic. Both of these start the same information, but the Infographic allows the viewer to glean a deeper understanding through the addition of context.  A good example of a Digital Poster posing as an infographic can be seen here: http://think.withgoogle.com/databoard/

 

Expand Context Through the Use of Metaphors

Infographics can (and should) be enhanced through the use of metaphor.

Being stuck with a single number to display is maddening. How do you show size? What does its size even mean? This dilemma is an opportunity to add context and metaphor. By comparing a number to something else that is familiar, you create understanding. 

Here are some examples of adding context to the previous graphic:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/periscopic/6352095776/in/set-72157629247990061

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/periscopic/6351350561/in/set-72157629247990061

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/periscopic/6351350295/in/set-72157629247990061

 

Keep in mind that the context should match the subject matter. The examples provided above concern emails – or correspondence – and the metaphor will be most effective when it extends the topic. Making a comparison to a page of text and the time spent reading it are easy leaps of imagination because the viewer’s mind is already considering the concept of communication. If we had instead compared that number to the blades of grass in a field, the size of the field might end up being pretty large, but the goal of getting the viewer to imagine the scale of the emails requires a larger cognitive leap, and provides less impact. 

By adding metaphor to data we add dimension. Through this abstraction we gain the ability to provide complex information in a way that is accessible to a much wider audience than that which might be familiar with the specific subject matter. In addition, metaphors not only provide an easy vehicle for empathy and comprehension, they are also an excellent opportunity to add visual interest.

 

Respect the Data

Data collectors are the historians of our time. The data revolution that started with affordable large storage devices is capturing our history in the finest detail we have ever known. The process of collecting it, specifically when it is done by real people, is difficult and tedious, and largely goes unnoticed. When you visualize data, you must respect what you have, and the enormous potential it represents. Even the simplest statistic deserves more than a passing thought, or an effortless grasp at the most obvious visual display that comes to mind.

 

Do More

When creating an Infographic, the data you present must do more as a graphic than if it were presented as a number or single line of text. Adjusting the size of your text, illustrating a word found within the text, or even showing the concept embraced by a cute illustration is not enough. If you believe the data has a story to tell, then you should do your best to tell it.

 

Know Your Options 

Working with data is nuanced and requires an understanding of the appropriate types of data display. A single data set, or statistic, can potentially have multiple ways of being visualized. In the same manner, a single data presentation method can be used to display multiple types of data. Understanding the relationship between your data and your data presentation options is essential if you want to create effective Infographics.

 

Strive for Elegance and Clarity

A natural tendency is to want to include every datapoint on the screen, assuming that more data will equate to more credibility. This is logical in spirit, but counterproductive in practice. Data design follows the same rules as visual design. Remove anything you can’t justify and isn’t relevant to the message you’re trying to convey. The empty spaces, the things you leave out, can provide clarity – and can also provide an opportunity to evoke questions in the viewer’s mind (that’s a good thing). 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/periscopic/8004311938/in/set-72157631576836704

 

Use Emotion

The best way to connect with people is to elicit an emotional response. No matter what the subject matter, visualizers need to have empathy for how people will feel when they reflect on the data we’re presenting. Sock, joy, sorrow, curiosity, and other strong emotional reactions likely illustrate that you’ve chosen an important dataset and are presenting it well. In many ways, the ultimate compliment an Infographic creator can receive is to know that a viewer of their work is being moved at a level that goes deeper than just an intellectual response. 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/periscopic/8601076022/in/set-72157633115411317

 

Be Authentic and Sincere

Presenting datapoints without consideration for what they represent shows a lack of empathy. When you visualize data, it is essential to understand the role it plays in the larger social conversation. If it has the potential to change a person’s worldview, you need to do whatever you can to make this happen. Divorcing yourself from this responsibility is the sign of on uninspired designer. Imagine you are actually having a conversation with the viewer. Let your design choices begin a dialog.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/periscopic/6792935314/

 

Know the Difference

Data is easy to love. It represents truth and clarity, and can inspire people to grab whatever living thing is nearest to them and insist it listen. It can move a person to join a protest, to shout a slogan, or even inspire someone to make a poster. Even a digital one.

When we begin to discern between graphical representations of data and actual visualizations of data, we become better data consumers and better knowledge creators. There is a place for Digital Posters, it’s just not the same place as Infographics.

 

 

Kim Rees

Partner & Head of Data Visualization (@krees)

Kim Rees is Head of Information Visualization at Periscopic, and is a prominent individual in the data visualization community. She has presented at several industry events including Strata, OSCON, Wolfram Data Summit, VisWeek, Tableau User Conference, NY Hacks/Hackers, and Portland Data Visualization among others.

She is an advisor to the US Congressional Budget Office. Kim has published papers in Parsons Journal of Information 

Mapping, was an award winner in the VAST 2010 Challenge, and is a guest blogger for Infosthetics and FlowingData.

Recently, she was the Technical Editor of Visualize This, by Nathan Yau of FlowingData. She was a judge on the WikiViz Challenge 2011 and CommArts Interactive Annual 2012.

 

Dino Citraro

Partner & Head of Strategy (@dinocitraro)

Dino Citraro is Head of Strategic Design and Operations at Periscopic, and has a strong background in problem solving, creative direction, and writing. 

A twenty-year veteran of the multimedia industry, his work has spanned immersive online development, application design, interactive motion pictures, multi-player games, and interactive hardware installations.

He is the Visualization Editor of the Big Data journal, as well as a contributing blogger to several industry sites. He is also an accomplished photographer, a published poet, and has written & illustrated seven children’s books.

Wednesday
Jul102013

Matthew Dunn - What Makes an Infographic Cool?

Guest Post by Dr. Matthew Dunn

What Makes an Infographic Cool?  Beer.

Beer is cool.

So is an infographic on beer cool?

I think this one is cool:

The Very Many Varieties of Beer infographic poster

But, unfortunately for the guys at Pop Chart Lab:

  • First Rule of Cool: “The act of discovering what’s cool causes cool to move on.”

Dang, if I think this is cool, it must not be, because

  • Second Rule of Cool: “Cool cannot be manufactured, only observed.”

plus

  • Third Rule de Cool: “…can only be observed by those who are themselves cool.”  *

I discovered this, and I’m not cool. (Never have been. Never will be.) So, Pop Chart Lab guys, I apologize for thinking The World of Beer infographic is cool, and killing you on #1 and #3.  But leaving aside my fondness for the subject matter, here’s why it’s cool.

1) Show More In Less. 

This shows me much more about beer varieties on one page than could be written in one page.  It makes effective use of a few visual-communications principles - connection, clustering, scale and typography - to help me traverse, relate and generally make sense of 300+ different beers and about 100 varieties. That’s thousands of relationships in one page; if they’d have typed all that, I’d have gone out for a sample instead.

Many of the awful constructs that set out to be “infographics” manage to say in one large page what could be said in one short paragraph. They’re long on decoration and stylistic flourish, short on substance. Not cool.

2) Structure Is Chancellor **

The visual design here is driven by the structure of the subject matter.  They didn’t draw a bunch of circles and lines and say “Hey, let’s fill these in with beer varieties!”.  Likewise, the aesthetic choices - color, line, typography for example - serve the subject matter instead of overriding it.  (The quasi-Victorian look underlines the historical longevity of beer varieties, for example.)  It’s also worth pointing out that visualization is more effective with this structure than language.  Describing all of these formal relationships in English (or your language of choice) would be ponderous and far, far longer. 

Run-of-the-mall infographics tend to impose style on structure. Not cool.

3) The Goal Is Understanding

A very old-fashioned criterion for cool, admittedly, but absolutely key IMHO.  I happen to like Arrogant Bastard Ale (top-left); understanding that it’s an American Strong Ale, which is an offshoot of Strong Pale Ale, in the flick of an eye…is cool. It delivers on that criterion called “utility value” in the intellectual-property world - ‘does something useful’ - because it helps me understand more, more quickly - at least up to the limits of consumption in this case. (Will I remember all of it? No. Is it in Evernote for future brewpub visits? Yes.)

Not-cool infographics tend to aim at goals external to understanding of the subject matter - goals like SEO ranking, keyword packing, and branding.  These are fine business goals, but pretending to inform me is an Arrogant Bastard move, really. It’s a trick of the form - “look at our cool infographic” masking “look at us.”  It’s interrupt advertising masquerading as content marketing and that’s not cool.

Infographics (a portmanteau nobody should carry) tend to split along data-rich and decoration-rich. The World of Beer isn’t a Big Data set - but it’s a respectably difficult subject to tackle.  There’s some real design integrity to this piece - no CGI trickery or typographical back-flips because that would be wrong for the subject.

It’s a personal bias, to be sure, but I find the coolest infographics tend to have that kind of restraint and class. They aim more at connecting me to the subject matter than the subject maker.  That’s me; may not be you.  Cool, like beer, is a matter of taste.

* Malcolm Gladwell, The Coolhunt, New Yorker, 1997.

** There are too many “content is king, ______ is queen” tropes, you don’t need another.   Where content is king, structure is the power behind the throne.

 

Matthew Dunn is Chief Explainer at Say It Visually, the Explanation Agency.  

He holds the first PhD in Digital Media, which he created at the University of Washington (just before the Web was invented), and an MFA in Directing from the University of Texas.  He’s been a teacher, professor, a 9-year Microsoft veteran, a Fortune 1000 Senior VP & CIO and a tech-startup CEO.  He’s also an award-winning writer, designer, director, frequent public speaker, and an inventor, with 15 patents to date.  He launched Say It Visually with a business partner in 2008, and lives with his family in Bellingham, WA, a town of superb brewpubs.

 

 

 

LINKS:

Website: sayitvisually.com

Twitter: @DrMatthewDunn

Google+: DrMatthewD

LinkedIn: drmatthewdunn

 

Friday
Jul052013

The Conversation Prism 4.0 for 2013

The Conversation Prism 4.0 for 2013 infographic

Brian Solis has released the new Conversation Prism 4.0, with updated companies and categories for 2013.  This project series has been a favorite on Cool Infographics since version 1.0 was released in 2008, and we haven’t seen an update since version 3.0 was released in 2010.

What is The Conversation Prism?

Developed in 2008 by Brian Solis, The Conversation Prism is a visual map of the social media landscape. It’s an ongoing study in digital ethnography that tracks dominant and promising social networks and organizes them by how they’re used in everyday life.

Version 4.0 brings about some of the most significant changes since the beginning. In this round, we moved away from the flower-like motif to simplify and focus the landscape. With all of the changes in social media, it would have been easier to expand the lens. Instead, we narrowed the view to focus on those that are on a path to mainstream understanding or acceptance. The result was the removal of 122 services while only adding 111. This introduces an opportunity for a series of industry or vertical-specific Prisms to be introduced so stay tuned.

The Conversation Prism 4.0 for 2013 closeup

The design highlights the major companies in 26 different categories of social networking services.  This update loses the flower-like design style of the last three versions, and changes to a more straightforward circle with equal sized pie slices.

The inner circles have always been a little confusing for readers and marketers because the intent is that the inner labels can be adjusted depending on the user.  They don’t necessarily relate specifically to the services they are located near in the outer slices.

As a snapshot of the current social media landscape, this is a fantastic tool for marketers to consider the tools and services they want to engage for any particular campaign.  Three years was too long to wait for an update, since this landscape is changing and evolving very quickly.  That’s why 122 individual services were removed and 111 services were added. 

The Conversation Prism 4.0 for 2013 poster

The Conversation Prism 4.0 is available as a free high resolution JPG image download (great for computer wallpaper/desktop) of for purchase as a 22”x28” wall poster for $19.

Thanks to Jarred for sending in the link!  Also found on Mashable and The Next Web.

 

Wednesday
Jul032013

Nathaniel Pearlman - What Makes an Infographic Cool?

Guest Post by Nathaniel Pearlman

Randy asked me to write a post on the topic “what makes an infographic cool?” 

Unfortunately, I hate the term infographic. The first four letters feels too casual to me, but maybe it’s a good fit for quick marketing infographics.  For my firm’s work, I prefer the terms “information graphic” or “data graphic” or “data visualization”… or “timeplot.” They seem more dignified. But then I’m a guy who insists on using the term “small, medium, and large” at Starbucks.

My quick answer is: an infographic is “cool” when it presents an important and complex story and does so with integrity and good looks. Important, because if the subject is not important, why bother? Complex, because it is complexity in information that requires visual treatment. Integrity is key for the long-term reputation of both client and design firm. By good looks I mean good aesthetic design, crucial for both pride in our work and the reception it receives from our audience.

(Perhaps an infographic graduates from “cool” to “warm” if it is especially good, and if one is really beautiful, which is quite rare, it could be called “hot” or “awesome” or “epic.” For this reason, I advise Randy to reserve warminfographics.com, hotinfographics.com, awesomeinfographics.com, and epicinfographics.com if they are not already taken).  [Randy: Most are already taken]

Maybe my history explains my resistance to the term infographic. My route to practitioner in this field was quite indirect. A class I took in 1987 with Professor Edward Tufte sparked my original interest. At the time he had written only one book of his four classic books on the visual display of quantitative information. For that class, I hunted for historical examples of good statistical graphics in the stacks of Sterling library, and got the bug.  But, though I continue to collect examples to this day, filling up my map drawers, it took me some twenty years of other activities (graduate school, founder of software company, CTO for presidential campaign, husband and father), before I started making Timeplots (www.timeplots.com).

Anyway, I’ve become pretty opinionated about what makes an information graphic cool. My strong preference leans to working with data and stories that have potential to impact public policy or to educate people about things they care about. In my view, this can be done by presenting information in a new way or pulling many threads together into a new tapestry. The form could be print, or a web-based interactive, or a motion graphic, but the work should fit the medium. The form of the graphic doesn’t have to be new or inventive, but should be the best fit for the information. I find it best to be attentive to others who are truly great at this craft, as I have much to learn.

I also prefer to work for the right side of an issue, as I see it, and to say something that matters. It’s not always possible (financially or otherwise) to find the right clients or projects to do this, but I much prefer to tell stories with data that hold the potential to make a positive difference in the world—not just to advertise a run-of-the-mill product or service. I aspire to execute work with integrity (to tell the truth with the data, to provide comparative context, to consider counterarguments, to truly explain).

We are currently working, for example, with the Center for American Progress to help show how immigration will be economically essential over the next twenty years, and how public policy ought to be shaped with that in mind. Happy to have that project.  My firm also provides yearly updates to the Death and Taxes poster on the Federal Budget. The 2014 version is just out and is available here: http://www.timeplots.com/collections/all

My consulting firm Graphicacy helps others tell complex stories visually(www.graphicacy.com). Our name (think literacy, numeracy, graphicacy) reminds us to take into account the abilities of our audience to understand the graphics we create.

Since we often work with complex data, this is particularly relevant, for unintelligible information graphics cannot be cool. 

 

Nathaniel Pearlman has been interested in visualizing data for more than two decades. Nathaniel majored in computer science at Yale and he finished all but his dissertation in MIT’s political science doctoral program. Nathaniel founded NGP Software, Inc. in 1997 (now NGP VAN, Inc.) to join his interests in politics and technology and grew that company into the market leader in fundraising and compliance software for progressive political campaigns. Nathaniel served as Chief Technology Officer for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign in 2007-8. In 2009, Nathaniel founded the information graphic products company Timeplots and reserved the name GRAPHICACY for information graphics consulting and services. Together, Timeplots and Graphicacy are dedicated to making the visual display of information more comprehensible and aesthetic.

 

 

 

LINKS:

Graphicacy: graphicacy.com

Timeplots: timeplots.com

Twitter: @timeplots

Facebook: facebook.com/timeplots

 

Wednesday
Jun262013

Peter Sena - What Makes an Infographic Cool?

Guest Post by Peter Sena

Infographics, another problem solved through design 

As a designer, everything I see is a form of an infographic. Whether the packaging on the shelves of a grocery store, to the interface in my car, down to the websites I visit each day, being able to visualize and experience information easily is a critical part of design. Infographics were born for that very same purpose, to take the complex and simplify it or capture it in a way where the viewer can easily draw conclusions from the information. If you’ve been anywhere on the web you’ve likely seen a slew of infographics plastered all over Pinterest or your favorite websites and blogs.

Cool Infographics does a fantastic job at capturing some of the best and most interesting infographics so rather than talk about a problem that is already solved, I figure I’ll walk you through a few of my recent favorite examples of data visualizations that help tell a story, evoke an emotion or speed up ones access to research.

 

Infographics that make us remember

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of sharing information and the thing that legends are made of. Making one remember their past is a sure-fire way to truly capture the attention of your viewer. Foursquare’s recent partnership with Samsung to launch their Time Machine is a great example of how data can be visualized in a way to make us remember not just where we are, but we’re we’ve been. Tapping into viewers’ memories is a key way to trigger emotion to your viewer. Their time machine let’s you login with your foursquare account and you can take a trip down memory lane to see all the places you’ve checked into and explore that data in a very intuitive, interactive fashion.  (https://foursquare.com/timemachine)

Foursquare Time Machine

 

Infographics as a research tool

With so much data at our fingertips one Google search away, being able to drill down to find the information we’re are after is a critical need. Google’s Consumer Barometer and Real-Time Insight Finder let you browse their databases in a very visual way and look into how consumers are using the Internet, searching for and buying products, and what ways they are connecting to the internet.

Google’s Real-Time Insight Finder: www.google.com/think/tools/real-time-insights.html

Google Real-Time Insight Finder

Google’s Consumer Barometer: www.consumerbarometer.com

Google Consumer Barometer

 

Our Facebook vs Twitter infographic, received almost 13 million page views since we posted it, with reshares, likes, tweets and pins all over the internet but aside from asking us to update it with new data, the biggest request from users was the ability to see it interactive and give the ability to segment and view the data in different ways. I feel Google is doing a fantastic job at making information fun and intuitive to access and doing it with the perfect blend of form and function.

Facebook vs Twitter infographic

 

Infographics that show you how it works.

I absolutely love these infographics because they take complex devices and break them down in a beautiful designed, easy to understand way in the form of a cross-section view while incorporating aspects of the popular flat-design visual style.

Imaginary Factory

 

Why they work so well?

We’re visual beings with almost 50% of our brains being used for processing visuals. People’s attention spans are decreasing by the day due to the sheer amount of information that they are presented with. Give someone the ability to quickly scan something and you are much more likely not to lose their attention.  The good folks at NEOMAM.com put together this great infographic on thirteen reasons why our brains crave infographics, which takes a much deeper dive into the science behind them.

What infographics and data visualizations are inspiring to you these days? Shoot me a tweet and lemme know.

 

 

Peter SenaPete Sena is the founder of Digital Surgeons, a digital-first creative agency that specializes in combining design and technology to connect brands and consumers.

 

LINKS:

www.digitalsurgeons.com

Twitter: @petesena

LinkedIn: petersena

 

 

Wednesday
Jun192013

Ben Harrow - What Makes an Infographic Cool?

Guest Post by Ben Harrow

Infographics are a visual representation of engaging and enlightening statistics or facts - as Randy puts it, “infographics turn data into information”.  Now, a lot of interesting people have said a lot of interesting things about what makes an infographic ‘cool’ - but sometimes, you just have to trust the numbers.  

Infographics aim to go ‘viral’ - to spread to and engage with as many people as possible. However, with the sheer amount being produced now, it’s incredibly difficult to stand out and it takes something special to really make a mark in the popularity stakes.

So, what’s wrong with going simple? Let’s look at the coolest infographics - by the views.

The Top 3 - News by Design

News by Design is (obviously) our project - and we basically want to show off the infographics that tell a newsworthy story in a beautiful way.

The most viewed pieces since our inception?

  1. How we hit 7 billion
  2. Beep - a f**king infographic (beware - it features lots of swearing)
  3. The ‘big infographic’ trend

The top 3 certainly cover the bases - with a video infographic with some real-world interaction and some huge, huge infographics featured - as well as a whole heap of swearing.  But, that number 1 definitely shouts out about one thing that can make an infographic cool - a totally unique approach.

I’m very happy that a video infographic (of sorts) topped the table - it immediately brings to light the benefits of doing something hugely creative and putting some thought (and love) into a project.

And yes, for an infographic to be cool, it doesn’t have to be a straight forward up and down affair - visualising the influence of birth and death rates simultaneously using drips and drops makes the constant ebb and flow of population a beautiful and instantly understandable thing.

The subject matter also brings to light another point - the rapid global population increase is a very serious topic, and covering important issues is a great way to immediately engage viewers and appeal to a specific audience, especially if you break it down in an attractive and digestible way.

In short, this infographic tells you that the very coolest examples are original, innovative, and can, of course, feature some serious or controversial subject matter. That, and creating something utterly beautiful always helps.

The Top 3 - Visual.ly

Visual.ly is one of my personal favourite resources for finding quality infographics - most designers worth their salt know that adding their designs to the giant Visual.ly database will help gather views and begin the sharing process.

The three most viewed pieces in the history of Visual.ly?

  1. What are the odds?
  2. Should I text him?
  3. 30 shots

Now, this makes for an interesting Top 3 - a somewhat standard-form infographic, a flow-chart and a poster all make the grade here.  Although not all ‘infographics’ per-say, the visual representation of jokes, stories and, well, alcohol, are massively engaging for an audience when done correctly.

But, Visual.ly’s own infographic nabbed the top spot - a sleek and slick design that mirrors the Visual.ly house style and colour scheme is a plus, and the vertical flow of the information, guided by the neon pink line, is nothing out of the ordinary but definitely effective.

What matters here are the numbers - carefully explained and intricately entwined statistics that map out the likelihood that you exist as you are today. Now, ignoring the controversy in the math itself, (check the comments for some elaboration) it is a very cool concept, and philosophical content is always particularly engaging as it encourages the viewer to think rather than just read.

This infographic shows off the appeal of blowing the reader’s mind - introducing ideas and concepts that reflect on everyday life but will create endless amounts of talk value (as soon as 1 in 10^2,685,000 appears on page, you know you’re talking about something pretty intense).

However, a cool infographic definitely needs a helping hand - and Visual.ly owning the most viewed infographic on their entire site speaks volumes about distribution.  A great infographic won’t always sell itself, and it takes hard work to get the word out there.

The Top 3 - Cool Infographics

What kind of guest-blogger would I be if I didn’t hat tip to our gracious host?  You already know what Randy does, it’s why you’re here - Cool Infographics collects and reviews infographics to see if they cut the mustard.

And the three that really made the grade?

  1. The Caffeine Poster
  2. Guinness vs. Beer
  3. Comparing Hurricane Disasters: Sandy vs. Katrina

Now, despite more fun with alcohol, this Top 3 has something else of interest - the interpretation of official statistics and data. The comparing hurricanes graphic, although somewhat basic in design, looks at data that effects people and is newsworthy in itself - and presents it in a quick to digest format. Always appealing.

But one of Randy’s own doodles made the grade here - the already three-and-a-half years old Caffeine Poster.

Randy admits in the ‘making of’ posts that he isn’t a graphic designer - but that isn’t what’s important in this graphic.

When it was produced, the art of the infographic was still a relatively new thing, and there weren’t many truly innovative pieces floating around. Randy took something that is a widely discussed media topic, is important in our everyday lives (or at least, influential and awakening - caffeine)  and is directly comparable from one product to another, and combined it to make something instantly shareable.

‘Caffeine intoxication’ is a terrifying prospect - otherwise known as the ‘jitters’ you get after ingesting 300mg of caffeine (or one can of Jolt energy!). That, and I had never thought of caffeine in terms of chemistry and biology - but its ‘half-life’ is an interesting topic (4.9 hours is the time it takes for your body to flush out half the caffeine ingested).

What makes this infographic cool is the talk value - looking at your friend who’s drinking a tall Starbucks coffee and going ‘you’re drinking 5 cans of coke in caffeine right there’, or looking at your second can of Monster and preparing for the jitters. That, and the real-world application - discussing something that is relevant to everyone in a way they have not seen or heard before.

Drawing comparisons helps too - allowing the reader to immediately compare and rank recognisable objects or themes is a tool that can never be under-estimated. Because it works so fiercely well.

So, what makes an infographic cool?

Let’s go back through the list.

Cool infographics are original, innovative and cover important subjects.

They provide talk-value, draw comparisons, focus on real-world topics and more often than not blow the reader’s mind.

Throw in some quality design, functional layout, and some healthy distribution, and you’re probably well on the way.

And of course, make it beautiful.

___

I have to admit, I’m surprised that innovative visual elements and really intuitive/interactive design didn’t feature particularly strongly in these lists - is the idea and the concept more important than the visual product? Is the story more important than the vehicle when it comes to making a really cool infographic?

I’d love to know your thoughts on those most viewed lists - do you think they reflect the world of infographics well, or is there something major missing?

 

 

Ben Harrow is the Digital Editor at UK-based national news agency 72point, selling in stories to the national newspapers and creating infographics alongside. He is also the co-founder of News by Design, which praises the infographics that tell brilliant stories in  an engaging visual way.

 

LINKS:

news-by-design.com

Twitter: @newsbydesignuk

 

Tuesday
Jun182013

Design With Impact: A Guide to Webpage Anatomy

Design With Impact: A Guide to Webpage Anatomy infographic

Find out all the tips on how to design an impactful webpage with the Graphitas’ infogaphic, Design With Impact: A Guide to Webpage Anatomy.  See what you can and can’t live without on your webpage with the Impact-O-Meter.

As part of a my recent blog for SEOmoz on “Designing for SEO”, the team at Graphitas created an infographic to illustrate the impact of page positioning.

A lot of text in this design, but the information is strong and the design is visually impactful.  It’s missing a link to the original infographic page in the footer to help readers find the full size high-resolution verison.

Thanks to Justin for sending in the link!

Thursday
Jun132013

Visualizing International Criminal Tribunals


Visualizing International Criminal Tribunals

Very cool report that uses data visualization and infographics design to communicate complex information about International Criminal Tribunals from the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School, New York City.

The Leitner Center launches a new report, “International Criminal Tribunals: A Visual Overview,” providing an introduction to the work of the international tribunals and the conflicts which led to their establishment. Despite widespread interest in these tribunals and the view that they represent a definitive advance of international law and justice, there is also much confusion and misconception about their work. This new 90-page report, providing analysis and information through written summaries and detailed visualizations, aims to make the work of the courts more accessible to the general public and legal professionals alike.

Media attention dedicated to the work of the tribunals is too often superficial, and tends to confuse key distinctions between them; more informed scholarship, on the other hand, is largely confined to specialty publications, remaining inaccessible to most. “International Criminal Tribunals: A Visual Overview,” aims to provide well-researched and accessible information for anyone wishing to more fully understand these issues. This will help democratize engagement with these courts, which are tasked with delivering justice for victims of some of the world’s worst atrocities. Examples of the visual graphics in the report are included below.

 

Awesome use of different styles of data visualization to summarize the often-complex information behind these tribunals.  Timelines, maps, area charts, polar grids, rose diagrams and treemaps.  The Case-by-Case timeline are fascinating.

The complete report is publicly available as a PDF for download.

I asked Daniel McLaughlin a few questions about the development and design of the report:

Cool Infographics: What software, websites or tools did you use to create the visualizations?

Daniel: We used Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to create the visuals for the report.

Cool Infographics: Did you create the report yourself, or use a design team?

Daniel: As a lawyer working with law students on this project, I was dependent on graphic and information design volunteers to create the visuals. The students and I carried out all the substantive research and then worked with these volunteers to figure out how best to translate it visually. Paula Airth of www.bepeculiar.com, in particular, was instrumental in bringing the project to life.

Cool Infographics: How long did the report take to design and put together?

Daniel: The report started out as a short (8-9 page) publication on the work of the international criminal tribunals. It grew into the present 90 page version as we continued to accumulate new data and the graphic/information design volunteers continued to create new graphics. All told, the research took around 4 months and the creation of the visuals/layout took another 5 months or so.

Cool Infographics: How has the use of data visualization design and social media impacted your marketing?

Daniel: The goal of this publication was to make the work of the international criminal tribunals more accessible to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. As indicated in the publication,

“There is wide awareness, though little true understanding, of the work of the international criminal tribunals.  International prosecutions of high-ranking civilian and military leaders, including former heads of state, on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, represent for many the ultimate condemnation of these individuals’ past actions and a measure of their fall from power. Yet, despite the tribunals’ grasp on the popular imagination, they are the subject of significant misconceptions and confusion. Much of the media coverage dedicated to their work remains superficial, at best, and largely muddles over key distinctions between various tribunals, past and present. Conversely, the more informed scholarship is largely confined to specialty publications that remain inaccessible to most. In truth, many lawyers and non-lawyers alike lack a clear understanding of the role and functioning of these increasingly-pivotal international institutions.  This publication seeks to redress this knowledge gap by providing well-researched and accessible information for those wishing to more fully understand the international criminal tribunals and the conflicts over which they have jurisdiction. An informed public is an engaged public - and the issues that animate these tribunals, including delivering justice for victims of some of the world’s worst atrocities, are too significant to be discussed solely by a small cadre of international criminal law specialists.

Notably, this publication was created in partnership with graphic and information designers so as to reach a broader public. The designers’ visualizations present information regarding the tribunals and their underlying conflicts in a direct and accessible manner to a wide range of viewers, including those without a legal background. Beyond this democratizing function, information visualization also serves to reveal important data and trends that might otherwise go unnoticed in a more conventional format. Ideally, the following information, which is current as of January 2013, would be integrated into a continually updated interactive webportal dedicated to engaging a global public on issues of international justice.

In sum, this publication aims to facilitate a broader discussion of the international criminal tribunals’ notable accomplishments, as well as ongoing shortcomings.”

 

Thanks to Daniel McLaughlin for sending in the link!