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

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

InfoNewt Infographic Design

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Tuesday
Sep112012

What is an Infographic? (explained with LEGOs)

 What is an Infographic? infographic

This infographic from Hot Butter Studio presents the idea of infographics in, well, an infographic! What is an Infographic? Data sorted, arranged, and presented visually! (And in a fun LEGO design!)

This is an infographic about what is an infographic. Using Lego blocks and photography we wanted to show that.a good infographic is simple and requires very little text.

Simple and fun, this is a really good design that has had some phenomenal success in social media sharing.

Thanks to Karyn for sending in the link!

Friday
Sep072012

Visual History of Cooper Black

Visual HIstory of Cooper Black infographic

Where’s Waldo?  More like where’s Cooper Black?  The font is everywhere! The Visual History of Cooper Black infographic was created by fibers.com to show their love for Cooper Black.

You might not know it, but you’ve seen Cooper Black. On the shop-front, in naughty magazines, album covers and candy wrappers - this depression era novelty font gets around. And why wouldn’t it, it’s curvaceous and friendly, as the type designer who created this font said, “It’s a typeface for farsighted printers with nearsighted customers.

We think Cooper Black is just lovely, with a rich and robust history - so we put that history down visually with this infographic. 

What a great topic and design!  This topic just screams for the design to show the reader actual examples of Cooper Black in action, and the use of images in the timeline does just that.  The design is focused on telling just one story, the timeline, and is fun & easy to read.

Thanks to Alia for sending in the link!

Thursday
Sep062012

White House Infographic: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts

Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts Infographic

Here is a new infographic from the White House illustrating why Obama’s plan to Extend Middle Class Tax Cuts is the right thing to do. The infographic points out the pro’s for why it should be passed and what will happen if it isn’t passed.  I’m certainly not pushing a political bias, but I thought it would helpful to take a close look at some issues with the design.

From the White House:

Unless the the House of Representatives takes action before January 1, 2013, a typical middle-class family of four will see their taxes go up by $2,200 in the coming year.

President Obama is fighting to prevent that from happening. He is pushing lawmakers to get this done.

What we should do right now is give middle-class families and small business owners a guarantee that their taxes will not go up next year,” he said. “When families have the security of knowing that their taxes won’t go up they’re more likely to spend, and more likely to grow the economy. When small business owners have certainty on taxes and can plan ahead they’re more likely to hire and create new jobs. And that benefits all of us.” – President Obama

 

A few thoughts:

  • I like the progress bar design to visually show the current status of the issue.
  • Overall, the text is very small.  Even  when viewing the full-size resolution version on the landing page, some of the text is hard to read.
  • Sources are only listed for one statistic the Reducing the Federal Deficit section.  Where does the rest of the data come from, and why should we believe it?
  • Visualizing the stats in the first section would have been very helpful to put the numbers into context.  They should show the reader that 114 Million Middle-Class Families is a certain percentage of the total number of families in the U.S.
  • Nice use of red color to show the opposing proposal.  From a design standpoint, red = bad/negative so this visually shows the opposing plan with a subconscious negative bias.
  • The visualization of 100 people icons is correct, but would be easier for the reader to understand if it was organized in rows of 10.  Our number system is Base-10, so that’s how readers understand data.
  • Again, the rows of 15 small office buildings are hard for the reader to understand.  They should be rows of 10 to be immediately understandable.
  • The U.S. map should be display the values as a heat map.  States with higher values would have full color, and states with lower values would have lighter shades of the same color in accordance to the values.  Don’t make the reader read all of the text values and hunt to figure out the higher and lower values.  You don’t want to make your readers work that hard, when you can visualize it easily for them.
  • The “Learn more…” statement at the end is a good call-to-action at the end of the infographic, but they should also include the URL of the infographic landing page so people can find the original.

The White House has been experimenting with infographics for about a year now.  You can see my thoughts about two previous examples of The Obama Energy Agenda and The Resurgence of the American Automobile.

What do you think about the design?  What do you like, or would have done differently?

Found on the White House webpage

Tuesday
Sep042012

2011 Wisconsin Crash Calendar & Interview

2011 Wisconsin Crash Calendar infographic

I love this infographic design!  Designed by Joni Graves, a Program Director at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Engineering Professional Development (that’s a mouthful!).  I highly recommend downloading the PDF version and taking a closer look on your own.

The original version and a few variations are available on a couple different official sites:

The Wisconsin Bureau of Transportation Safety (BOTS) uses printed copies of the infographic calendar at meetings around the state with various groups to generate discussions about what causes crashes and how to interpret what the data shows.

This design is a great example of how visualizing the data allows the readers to see patterns in the data and much more easily understand the stories behind the data.  The color coding makes it easy to compare the data subsets, and the consistent layout to match a traditional paper calendar is very easy to follow.

There are so many findings you can quickly see in the big dataset.  Some are obvious, but many are surprising.  For example, you can clearly see…

  • Alcohol-related crashes happen primarily on weekends, and fairly consistently throughout the year.
  • Deer Season is clearly identified in Oct-Nov.
  • There was something special about July 1st…
  • Motorcycle, Work Zone and Bicycle crashes occur during the Summer months.
  • Ice, Snow, Wet Road crashes are highest in Jan-Feb, but what happened on April19th?  Late Winter storm?
  • Speed related crashes are primarily reported in the Winter months.
  • Fatal crashes are evenly spread throughout the year

Joni was also willing to answer some interview questions about this project and her design process:

Cool Infographics: What software applications did you use to create the Crash Calendar?

Joni Graves: EXCEL 2010 using Pivot Tables. Presentation advancements incorporate Microsoft’s PowerPivot using SharePoint.

Cool Infographics: Was the design created in cooperation with the Wisconsin Transportation Information Center, or was it an independent project? 

Joni Graves: I’m a Program Director at the UW-Madison Department of Engineering Professional Development and part of the WI LTAP (FHWA’s Local Transportation Assistance Program) / Wisconsin Transportation Information Center (TIC).

Cool Infographics: How long did the design take you to create?

Joni Graves: It’s a longer story, if you’re interested, but the skinny is that I started working on the Crash Calendar format in mid-April and previewed it at a meeting the end of the month. I had a learning curve with some of the intricacies, and spent about 200 hours on it during that two weeks! Since then it’s taken on a life of its own — and I am delighted by that!

Cool Infographics: Would you describe your design process?

Joni Graves: I would be happy to elaborate on this but, as an inveterate designer / tinkerer, I’ll confess that I’m always discovering some new way of formatting / displaying the data, and disappointed that there’s never enough time to do the new ideas justice …

Cool Infographics: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from the data?

Joni Graves: I’ve certainly enjoyed the design process! More importantly, it’s been incredibly satisfying to see people engage w/ the data using this intuitive representation, or to read their comments, because it’s apparent that it helps make the data far more accessible! And I have loved the comments / responses.

Cool Infographics: What was the hardest part behind designing the Crash Calendar?

Joni Graves: As I noted, there’s been a fascinating learning curve. But the hardest part has been stopping! As noted above, I’m always trying to “improve” it — and always running out of time.

Cool Infographics: What should we expect from future versions of the design?

Joni Graves: We currently have a multi-year version, a web-demo site, and a working 2012 version. I’m very excited about incorporating choropleth maps. Although it’s a very interesting “historic” document, the real goal is to provide a resource that is far more timely and potentially predictive for local users. 

I’m really excited about our plans to webize it, because the real idea is to expand it as a national project — using multi-year FARS data, WI data, and data from other interested states — and we really want to “unleash” it for others to actively use. 

Cool Infographics: Challenges?

Joni Graves: There’s been a wonderful response — and we are trying to figure out how to actually fund an expanded project w/ enhancements!

One additional thing to note was that Joni was inspired to create the whole design project by Nathan Yau’s post on Vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2010 (which I posted about here earlier this year), and I think she has done a great job building Nathan’s initial visualization into some something much more powerful and effective.

Thanks to Joni for sharing!

Monday
Aug202012

ROI = Return On Infographics

ROI Return On Infographics

 

Infographics about infographics are always fun.  Return on Infographics by Bit Rebels and NowSourcing takes a look at some of Bit Rebels’ own data from releasing infographics as part of their marketing.

The impact of an infographic can be measured on many levels, which makes it all just a little bit more complex and complicated to present. With the help of NowSourcing, we have been able to produce an infographic that will compare the traffic and social action impact of an infographic post with a traditional post that does not involve an infographic. It’s through social media analytics that a clear image slowly emerges to tell a story that for some has just been a question without an answer.

They’re pretty clear about this, but remember that this design is completely based on internal data from Bit Rebels.  It may be a good indicator of infographics in general, but we don’t know for sure.

Bit Rebels has shared some fantastic data from their internal tracking, which will be of interest to the you, the readers of Cool Infographics.  However, the design makes a few mistakes, and we’re all here to learn how to make infographics designs better.

  • One of my pet peeves, the design messed up the size of the circles in the comparison table.  Based on the full-size infographic they released at 975 pixels wide, the smaller circle for 243 Actions is about 55 pixels in diameter.  Doing the match for the area of a circle, the diameter of the larger circle for 1,091 Actions should be about 117 pixels wide.  In the design, it’s actually about 256 pixels wide!  So instead of visually showing a shape roughly 4x larger, it’s actually showing a circle about 22x larger!  This is a “false visualization” and mis-represents the data.
  • Are these comparison data points an average or a total of the 500 posts?
  • How many infographic posts are compared to how many traditional posts?
  • Love the use of the actual logos from the social networks in the comparison table, and they should have continued that with the rest of the design instead of just text later in the design.
  • The blue bars behind the higher comparison value look like bar charts, but obviously don’t match the data.  They just fit the text, and have no visual relevance to the data.  An indicator icon or highlighting the entire column width would have been better than the bars.
  • Are the Top 6 Social Networks in rank order?  LinkedIN is the top social network for infographics???
  • The circles near the end of the design are also incorrect.  Instead of showing a 10x comparison to match the dollar values, the circles show an over 100x comparison!

Found on WebProNews, MediaBitro’s AllTwitter, and Visual.ly.  Thanks to everyone that also submitted it and tweeted links to it!

Wednesday
Aug152012

Which Countries were Successful at the Olympics?

Which Countries were Successful at the Olympics? infographic

A personal infographic design project by Paulo Estriga, Which Countries were really the Most Successful in London 2012? compares the Top 10 medal winning countries with a normalized set of data showing the number of medals per one million people in the population of each country.

The official standings are reached by counting the number of gold medals obtained by each country, using silver and gold [bronze? - Randy] medals to break ties.  By this method, the USA was the most successful country, followed by China in second and Great Britain in third.

However, most of these countries have many millions of people to pick from, which naturally generates a large number of quality athletes making it to the Olympics.  What happens when we take population numbers into account?  Which are really the most successful countries in getting the most gold medals out of the fewest people?

This design is clear, easy-to-read, and does a great job of showing how normalizing the data with population gives you a very different result.  He clearly cited his sources, included a copyright statement and the URL to his site.  I would have preferred the URL to be directly to the infographic.

Paulo’s structure of the overall infographic is a great example of the 3-part story format!  The introduction visualizes the traditional way of measuring countries based on their gold medal counts, by showing medal icons.  The Main Event is the visualization of the new, normalized for population chart that shows something new and unexpected to the reader.  Finally, a conclusion wraps up the design describing where the traditional Top 10 countries fall in the new ranking.

Outstanding job Paulo!

Monday
Aug062012

New Feature: DataVis & Infographic Designer Job Openings

Infographic Designer Jobs

I recently added a new feature page here on the Cool Infographics blog called Cool Jobs.  The Jobs page is open for anyone to post freelance, part-time and full-time opportunities for data visualization and infographic designers.  Posting an opening on the Jobs page is FREE, and you should include a job description, a link to the opportunity, and contact information in the main body of your post.

Monday
Jul232012

True Colors: What Your Brand Colors Say About Your Business


True Colors: What Your Brand Colors Say About Your Business infographic

Does your companies brand reflect their business correctly? Check out True Colors: What Your Brand Colors Say About Your Business infographic from Marketo.

The most prominent brands in the world are defined by their colors. Think of McDonald’s golden arches, the name Jet Blue, and UPS’ slogan, “What can Brown do for you?” These companies, and many others, strategically use colors in their logo, website, and product to appeal to customers. As a B2B marketer, it’s important to think about how you utilize colors and what the colors you choose say about your business.

Research has found that different colors provoke very different reactions in people. Marketo choose to use the color Purple for branding because at the time Marketo was founded, purple was relatively un-used. Additionally, purple represents wealth, royalty, and richness which also has associations to leadership and revenue. Integrating your brand colors in your logo, landing pages, product, and more will help you achieve the highest impact. We put the rainbow under a microscope to find out how each color can help you connect with your consumers.

Designed by Column Five Media, this is a really good infographic.  The use of the specific colors in question make the design attractive and very easy to follow.  I also like the use of icons to show industries that use the different main colors.  The icons and bullet lists also help cut down on the amount of text the audience has to read.

A couple things I would change: 

  • There are a number of statistics at the top that should have been visualized instead of just making the fonts really big.
  • There are a number of what appear to be quotes from different sources about the power of colors, but the sources aren’t citied.  I assume they’re a part of the sources listed in the footer, but quotes should be immediately attributed.
  • Which Colors are Companies Using Most? adds up to 103%.  It’s not clear if these should be mutually exclusive or if the study counts multiple colors from the same company in the results.
  • The bottom should have a copyright and the URL link to the original infographic landing page. 

Thanks to Carra for sending in the link!

Friday
Jul062012

Informotion: Animated Infographics - Interview & Book Giveaway

Informotion: Animated Infographicsfrom Informotion: Animated Graphics, Copyright Gestalten 2012

The Informotion: Animated Infographics book edited by Tim Finke, Sebastian Manger and Stefan Fichtel was just released from Gestalten, and only recently appeared in the U.S.  I also have a promotional copy of the book to giveaway!  So keep reading until the end to find out how to get a chance to win the book.

Informotion: Animated Infographicsfrom Informotion: Animated Graphics, Copyright Gestalten 2012

This is the only book I am aware of that focuses on infographic animation and video production.  The book covers topics like Forms of Representation, Storyboarding, Animation, Voice-Over Narration and Content.  The book also highlights at least 25 animated infographic videos, and takes a deep look at how they were made.

At the nexus of design and journalism, the field of information graphics offers some of the most exciting and dynamic work for creatives. Today, even more so than static versions, animated information graphics are serving to communicate complex correlations succinctly. The production of such animations on the basis of up-to-the-minute data is already common practice in select TV programs. Now, these moving formats are finding wider application in television and on the internet, as well as on an increasing number of mobile devices, and in public places. They can be seen in editorial contexts and in the areas of advertising and corporate communication.

Informotion is the first book to document the fundamentals needed to create compelling animated infographics and to explain them with numerous examples. It focuses on key aspects of visualizing data, current forms of information graphics, and future possibilities for moving images. The publication also outlines the factors that improve the viewer’s ability to absorb information.


Informotion: Animated Infographicsfrom Informotion: Animated Graphics, Copyright Gestalten 2012

 

Sebastian Manger was kind enough to provide some of his time to answer a series of interview questions about the future of infographic videos and production of the book:

CI: What brought you, Tim Finke, and Stefan Fichtel together to collaborate on the book?

Sebastian

 Manger: Tim and I both studied communication design at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam near Berlin. Our collaboration on many projects during our studies welded us together as team, and so we decided to do our master’s thesis as a joint project as well. This thesis formed the initial basis for Informotion. During our research for the book we came into contact with Stefan Fichtel. We initially just wanted to interview him about his experiences in the field of information graphics, but we then wound up working with him more closely.

CI: You cover this briefly in the book, but how do you define the difference between data visualizations and infographics?

Sebastian

 Manger: Data visualization is mostly based on a very complex set of data, which is then transmitted by tools such as processing into a graphical representation. Examples can include user behavior in a certain context or the air traffic in a given airspace. In our opinion, an infographic is more concentrated on a particular piece of information that needs to be communicated. In contrast to data visualization, infographics often boil something down to one core message that is then conveyed.

CI: Who do you see as the primary audience for the book?

Sebastian Manger: The book is a guide for designing animated infographics. Therefore, the primary target group is, of course, designers who create those. But Informotion is actually also interesting for any designer who deals with the transfer of information through moving images because it deals with our general perception of animation. The book introduces the range of tools now available for implementing animated infographics and explains their appropriate use. 

In addition, Informotion is also very interesting for journalists. They can gain valuable insight into how the information they first researched can be processed into an animation. This insight can then help avoid misunderstandings in any future collaboration.

CI: How difficult was it to select the videos in the book and did you get support from the companies that produced the videos?

Sebastian Manger: In some cases, the choice was indeed very difficult—especially when we needed examples focusing on a particular means of implementation. In those cases, we needed scenes that showed exactly what was meant without getting overlayed by other effects or information. In our thesis, which was the original inspiration for the book, we simply created such specific examples ourselves. For Informotion, however, we wanted to always use current examples from actual practice.

Once we found a fitting example, it was usually quite easy to convince the agency or studio to participate in the book. It was, however, sometimes a bit difficult to figure out who exactly was the author of a certain animation.

CI: Based on what you have observed, is there a “best practice” method for releasing an infographic video on the Internet?

Sebastian Manger: As the field of animated infographics is still quite young, it is currently very difficult to speak of a “best practice” example. We do hope that our book can help generate such an example one day.

CI: Do you believe that infographic videos are a stronger tool than static image or interactive infographics? 

Sebastian Manger: Yes, we do. People’s viewing habits are changing more and more. Ever more videos are appearing on the internet (YouTube, Vimeo, etc). The viewer is already getting used to absorbing information more passively. This environment is very favorable for the use of animated infographics. A certain fact can be presented to viewers in a simple manner without the need for them to toil through charts or diagrams themselves.

But herein also lies a danger or a special responsibility for the designer of an animated infographic. Under these conditions, a given set of information must always be reduced to a few details. In a static infographic, a statistic for example, viewers can make conclusions by themselves—provided, of course, that they take the time to do so.

CI: How quickly are infographic videos growing as a communication tool?

Sebastian Manger: In our research over the last few years we have ascertained a clear increase in the use of animated infographics. A simple indicator of this, for example, is the increasing number of videos tagged as “animated infographics” on YouTube or Vimeo. The number of websites and blogs that feature animated infographics is also growing continuously.

In addition, infographic design elements are being used more and more frequently in music videos, commercials, main titles, etc. This paves the way for consumers to deal with infographics as a means of implementation. Of course, the use of graphic elements in these fields is currently mostly limited to decoration, but why can’t it expand over the next few years and become more professional? These circumstances are causing viewing habits to change. Designers not only have a significant interest in these changes, but are also a contributing factor to them.

CI: What do you see as the future of infographic videos?

Sebastian Manger: We expect that the trend just described in our previous answer will continue and that animated infographics will be used even more frequently—especially in fields such as reporting but also in advertising. For most people, the use of information graphics is an indicator of seriousness. However, interactive graphics and data visualization will certainly play a huge role too.

CI: How difficult was it to put together a paper book about the highly visual topic of infographic videos?

Sebastian Manger: Not very difficult. Informotion includes a login code for accessing a password-protected website from where you can watch all the referenced videos in full length. In the printed book we use screenshots from and explanations of these videos to identify and explain current theories and means of implementation.

CI: Do you have any plans for a video infographic about video infographics in the future?

Sebastian

 Manger: Not until you came up with this question, but we’ll surely think about now!

 

Free Copy of the Book:

I have two copies of the book to give away to readers of Cool Infographics.  To enter you name into the hat, tweet a link to this blog post on Twitter and include the hashtag #informotionbook so I can find the Tweets.  At noon on Friday, July 13, 2012, I will randomly choose two people from the Tweets to receive a copy of the book.  You need to be following me (@rtkrum) on Twitter so I can send you a Direct Message (DM) if you are selected.

Here’s an example Tweet that would qualify:

Check out Informotion, the new book about animated infographic videos bit.ly/OdaGTg #informotionbook

Thanks to Sebastian for all his hard work, and participating with the interview.

Thursday
Jun212012

Kelly Slater: Greatest Athlete of All Time?

Quiksilver - Kelly Slater Infographic

Kelly Slater: Greatest Athlete of All Time? is a design collaboration between InfoNewt (my company) and the design team at Quiksilver.

It is common knowledge among our tribe that June 20th is recognized as International Surfing Day so who better to celebrate then Kelly Slater, 11X ASP World Champion. In the spirit of ISD, we’ve created an Infographic comparing Slater to athletes from traditional sports who have made history and measured their achievements to our Champ’s. Have a look and decide for yourself if Slater truly is “The Greatest Athlete of All Time”.

Do you think Kelly Slater is “The Greatest Athlete of All Time”? If yes, share this with your friends and get ready for summer with a pair of Kelly’s Cypher Nomad Boardshorts.

Of course it’s difficult to compare athletes from different sports, but Kelly Slater’s surfing achievements are truly impressive.  Despite being both the youngest and the oldest to win the ASP World Champion title, holding three Guinness World Records, winning 11 Would Tour Championships and winning events in 11 different countries, Kelly Slater has never been on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  :(

Here are some of the design aspects that this infographic gets right:

  • The key message is communicated within the first couple of seconds.  Even if a reader doesn’t read the whole infographic, they will leave understanding the key message.
  • Visually appealling with vivid, colorful images, but still easy to read top-to-bottom.
  • Intergrated the visual brand style of Quiksilver using photos, with the data visualizations about his career.
  • Good mix of different data visualization styles that are unique to the data they communicate
  • The key parts at the bottom are all there.  Data sources, brand logo, copyright statement and the URL to the original, full-size infographic.

The data for this design was the key challenge, and finding similar titles or awards in the other sports inspires discussion and debate among readers of the infographic.  Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or blog comments, this design draws in readers and invites everyone to share their own opinion.

Check out the full-size infographic HERE, and you can voice your own opinion about Kelly Slater in the comments below.

Thanks to the team at Quiksilver for being fantastic to work with!