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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:

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Entries in energy (10)

Thursday
May292014

Born in 2010: How much is left for me?

Born in 2010: How much is left for me? infographic

Resources are running low. The Born in 2010: How much is left for me? infographic puts the amount of each energy resource, metals used in renewable energy solutions, and other industrial metals left in perspective and which country to find them in. The infographic was created by Plan C.

I like the timeline design at the top.  Graphing the remaining resources is much more effective than telling someone in text that there are only 35 years of oil left.  However, I find the map visualization at the bottom confusing.  The color-coding and odd range of filled circles is difficult for readers to comprehend.

Found on Visual.ly

Tuesday
Jun042013

Home Energy Savings

Home Energy Savings infographic

70% of electricity in the US is generated from non-renewable sources.  The Home Energy Savings infographic provided by Accent Building Products tells us how to have an energy efficient home without sacrificing comfort.

Today it is more important than ever to make our homes more energy efficient without sacrificing home comfort. An energy-efficient home will keep your family comfortable while saving you money. Unfortunately, a lot of energy is wasted through leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and cooling systems. You can use many tips to save money and energy! This infographic details many different money saving tips and shows how we spend the money on our homes.

Infographic provided by Accent Building Productsa direct distributor of the industry’s top accent home and building products.  All products are shipped to you directly from the manufacturers’ factory.

It’s interesting from an online marketing and SEO perspective that I can find the infographic on gallery sites like Infographics Showcase, Infographics Inspiration, and Visual.ly but I was unable to find the original anywhere on the Accent Building Products website or blog.  This means that any popularity in terms of links and visitors to the infographic itself will benefit the gallery sites, but not Accent Building Products.  Only indirectly will Accent get any benefit if readers separately visit their site, but they would have to manually type in the URL because none of the infographics have a link back to the site.

This is a fun visual explanation design.  The illustrations clearly put the suggestions and data into context of the areas in the house.  There is a lot of text, but the small callouts make it easy to read.  It would have been more effective to visualize the pieces of data that are included in the design.

Thanks to Chris for sending in the link!

Monday
May202013

The Obama Energy Agenda: Gas Prices 2013

The Obama Energy Agenda: Gas Prices 2013 infographic

The White House has released a new infographic in April 2013, The Obama Energy Agenda, Gas Prices.  We have seen the White release a number of infographics as a communication tool, and they have consistently been getting better.

Gas Prices

Explore the infographic to learn about President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy.

The prior Energy Agenda infographic I reviewed was in April of 2011, and it was a rough, early attempt at an infographic design for online publication.  This design is significantly better, and has a number of good points to highlight that all designers can learn from.

First, the data visualizations are well done with the chart axes clearly labeld and units of measure clearly shown.  The color scheme is simple and easy to understand, but some of the small, gray text is hard to read on the white background.

Second, the big issue with the prior designs was the lack of sources for the data.  This design does a good job of citing the source of data for each visualization (chart).  For an administration that is attempting to increase transparency, the sources are still very vague.  I would like to see URL links to the actual reports or data sets referenced to make it easy for readers to check out the data on their own.  Instead, most of the sources are listed as just “EIA” which is the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  Certainly a step in the right direction, but could have much done better.

Third, there isn’t an obvious, clear Key Message.  Most readers only look at an infographic for less than 5 seconds, and it’s the designer’s responsibility to communicate the key message in that short time.  The rest of the information should tell a good story, and support the Key Message, but isn’t required reading.  There’s a lot of data shown in this design.  Probably too much data.  It’s hard for readers to understand the flow of information because there is both top-to-bottom sequence of sections and side-by-side charts.

The area chart in the center of the design draws the reader’s attention because it is so large in relation to the rest of the charts.  This visually implies that it is the most important data in the whole design, but I’m not sure that was the intent.

After reading through the whole design, I believe that the Key Message is “The Obama Administration has supported increased domestic drilling for oil, but that hasn’t lowered gas prices at the pump.  We need to do more.”  An infographic design should make this message very clear and easy to understand without having to read through the entire design.

What do you think?

Thursday
May022013

The United States of Energy

The United States of Energy infographic poster

The United States of Energy from Saxum, is a huge project to map domestic energy sources.  

Finally… After almost 50 years of dependence on foreign sources to meet our growing energy needs, our country is finally in a position to begin reversing the trend. Through advances in drilling technology, discoveries of new oil and natural gas reserves and swift progress in the renewables sector, the United States is setting a course for energy self-sufficiency.

What began as a simple graphic showcasing America’s energy riches quickly grew into a two-sided, folded map concept displaying thousands of individual data points.

The #USofEnergy map visualizes our country’s energy potential by charting current sources of energy production and identifying future resources and known deposits. Energy resources surveyed include: natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, solar and biomass.

This is actually designed as two landscape posters as the front and back, but when put together, they make one very detailed portrait orientation poster.  I love the main U.S. map that is the primary focus, and the designers took on the challenge to visualize the many different energy sources as represented with the overlapping colors.  You’ll notice that the smaller area coverage shapes are always on top, so the small circles aren’t completely hidden by the larger area shapes.  I would have attempted making the colored areas slightly transparent to let the underlying shapes show through, and removing the text names of all the states might have helped to reduce the visual noise.

My power contract for InfoNewt here in Texas is 100% Wind Power, but I had no idea that Texas is the national leader in wind power production!

I’m not sure what to call them, but I like the paired 180° doughnut charts showing how the sectors and sources of energy have changed from 1949-2011.  However, I don’t like the chart legends that makes them hard for the reader to figure out what each color represents.  Legends are evil!  It would have been nice for the nine types of energy to be shown with icons (along with the color-coding), and the icons or text could have been shown along with the larger 2011 doughnut segments.

The statistics shown at the bottom are shown as just text numbers.  In contrast to all of the data visualizations throughout the rest of the design, this makes these numbers seem unimportant to the reader.

Found on Visual.ly

Tuesday
Aug092011

Client Infographic: A Solar Innovation Story

Solar Savings: A Solar Innovation Story from ExtraSpace.com is a new infographic by InfoNewt and designer Jeremy Yingling.  This one tells the story of how the company is adding solar panels to the roof space on some of it’s self storage facilities all across the country.  The environmental, financial and community benefits are huge, and this was only the first year of a multi-year plan.

Extra Space Storage is on a mission to produce solar powered clean energy and reduce the carbon footprint of our 850+ self storage facilities. We aim to install 20,000 solar panels this year, and increase the pace of panel installation every year. Energy efficient clean power is good for our customers and our neighborhoods, our planet, and our investors. By the end of 2011 this program will save 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 100 acres of fir trees.

An infographic is a fantastic way for Extra Space to tell their story to customers, investors and anyone interested in alternative energy solutions.  It puts their efforts into context and shows the potential of how large their cumulative environmental impact could become.

You can follow Extra Space Storage on Facebook and Twitter (@extraspace)

Friday
Jul012011

Client Infographic: Waste in the Texas Energy Market

Waste in the Texas Energy Market from ChooseEnergy.com is a new infographic by InfoNewt and designer Jeremy Yingling.  This one tells the story of how much money is NOT being saved by households that don’t take advantage of lower pricing since Texas has a deregulated electricity market.

As the economy struggles to recover and households continue to cut back on spending, one of the easiest ways to save money might just be in your electric bill. In these tough economic times, consumers realize the importance of watching how every penny is spent. Today we look at the “Waste in the Texas Energy Market” and how pennies can certainly add up quickly to improve consumer finances.

Following the Infographic Release Strategy from InfoNewt, ChooseEnergy also did a great job setting up a dedicated landing page and custom URL for the infographic.  All of their links then drive traffic to this single page.  So the company blog post, Twitter feed and Facebook posts provide additional descriptions and links to this landing page.

While highlighting the fact that the Texas energy market is the 11th largest in the world, the infographic also shows that 48% of the electricity consumed is from residential use.  So what’s the big deal?  On average Texas residents pay about 11.5 cents per kWh for their home electric use when they could be paying 8.5 cents per kWh.   Doesn’t sound like much does it?  Well, those 3 pennies can add up fast and they add up to $3.7 billion for the Texas consumer market.

You can follow ChooseEnergy on Twitter at @texas_electric

Monday
May092011

The Obama Energy Agenda: The White House attempts an #Infographic

 

On Friday, the White House (yes, that White House) released this infographic, The Obama Energy Agenda & Gas Prices.  This is one of the very few “official” infographic designs we’ve seen from the U.S. Government, so I think it deserves a little more critique than normal.  There are some things I like about this one, and some things I don’t.

The Good: 

  • The fact that this was released by the White House, is a really big positive.  I generally praise companies that experiment with infographics to get their messages out, and an official one like this from the government says big things about infographics continuing to grow in relevance in today’s society of information overload.  If you want your information to reach a bunch of people online (especially the younger crowd) then using an infographic is your best bet.
  • Nice layout telling a story.  The best infographics tell a story well, and the progression of topics top-to-bottom tell the story Obama’s team wants to share.  One topic leads into the next.
  • Bold colors.  The dark background stands out nicely in most online news and blog formats, even on the white background color of the White House Blog.  The color gradient matches the new, official White House logo with the blue gradient background you see at the top.  Makes the overall infographic feel very official.
  • Good use of illustrations.  Sometimes, visualizing a point is effectively done with an image or illustration so the reader immediately knows what you’re talking about.  The car with a power cord, the bus, the fuel gauge and the oil wells designed into the separator line near the top.
  • I like the color scheme too.  Some infographics go so crazy with clashing colors it’s hard to read, but the consistent light blue, yellow and white is easy on the eyes.
  • They included a social sharing button at the bottom of the blog posts.  They use a combined social button that expands to show many sharing services.  I generally find that less people actually use combined buttons, but they certainly save screen real estate and there’s a way to share online.  There’s no logo or company name included in this button either, so the White House isn’t endorsing a particular company.
  • I like the line chart.  They removed the y-axis labels and put the data right onto the chart, along with additional comments.  This makes the whole chart easier to understand.

 

The Bad: 

  • NO DATA SOURCES!  Where did the numbers come from?!?  You want readers to engage and debate your story, not challenge your facts.  Citing all of your data sources keeps the conversation on your story.  This design, without sources, almost invites readers to focus on challenging the facts instead of becoming engaged in the conversation about energy.
  • Way too much text!
  • The infographic above is the blog-size version.  The high-resolution version is tough to find because clicking on the image only takes you to the blog-size image.  Separately, in the text of the White House post, you have to click “Download Full Size” to view the higher-resolution version. (Click the image above to view high-resolution)
  • Text too small.  The font is so small in some places, it’s hard to read, and many people won’t find the text link to the high-resolution version.
  • Not many data visualizations.  Big numbers are not visualizations. and there are only three actual data visualizations (line chart, column chart and color filled factory illustrations).  There are so many more numbers included that should have been visualized to give them context!  
    • How does 35.5 mpg from 2012-2016 compare to the last four years?
    • “Over 2 billion barrels of American crude oil produced in 2010.”  Show the last 20 years to provide context.
    • “…would reduce oil consumption of about 750 million barrels through 2010.”  Is that a lot?  Making the text bold makes it feel important, but it doesn’t give the reader any frame of reference.
  • The stacked column chart could be much better.
    • They could have removed the Y-axis labels and the background lines
    • Legends are evil.  In the 2012 column, they could have identified the color-coding of the different sources of renewable energy instead of putting a separate legend under the chart.  Makes the reader work harder to look back-and-forth at a legend.
    • Why isn’t “Solar” the yellow color instead of “Geothermal”?  Yellow…like the sun.
  • The factory visual at the bottom is tough.  For any shape visualizations, it’s the AREA of the shape that conveys meaning, and I think the designer missed it here.  It looks like the green color height matches the data, but not the area of the factory shape.  Readers understand this intuitively, so to most readers the factory showing 2035 data will just look wrong, even if they don’t know why.
  • No designer credit.  Who designed it?
  • No single landing page.  The infographic is actually included in two different blog posts: The President on Jobs & Gas Prices: Read His Remarks, Download the Graphic on May 6th and Weekly Address: Clean Energy to Out-Innovate the Rest of the World on May 7th.
    • This makes tracking more difficult because they would have to look at links and views for both individual blog posts.
    • The infographic is actually the secondary topic to both blog posts, so it’s never truly highlighted as the focus of the blog post.  It’s just included in blog posts about energy topics.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE that the White House staff is experimenting with infographics, and I hope they do many more in the future.  They just need some more practice. 

What do you think?

Tuesday
Sep072010

GE Ecomagination Challenge “Powering the Grid” Visualized

From GE, this is a visual interface/tracking system of the Ecomagination Challenge: Powering The Grid.

This is a data-heavy visualization.  Each submitted idea is a dot, and the concentric rings are a timeline expanding outward from July 2010 to today.  The dot colors represent the idea categories (Create Power, Connect Power and Use Power).  The size of the dot represents how many votes each idea has received and the additional halo around a dot represents the number of comments left by others on that idea.  I can’t tell, but I hope they use the values to calculate the “area” of each dot and not it’s “diameter”!

“…our data visualization teams have put their design skills to work on GE’s new “ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid.” Backed by $200 million in venture capital funds from GE and its partners, the goal is to find the best ideas from researchers and entrepreneurs that will help accelerate the adoption of smart grid technologies. But it can be a daunting task plowing through the more than 1,400 submissions to-date (and growing). So, as you can see in the data visualization, the entries have been represented graphically, with the circles representing clickable ideas.”

I really like the Solar Roadways idea!

Thanks to Megan for sending the link!

Wednesday
Sep022009

Surface Area Required to Power the World with Solar Power


From LandArtGenerator.org, a world map visualizing the surface area required to power the world's electricity requirements using solar power alone in 2030, using current solar panel technology.  It's getting a lot of traffic on digg, reddit and Twitter too.

Also, check out the same idea, but for off shore wind power.

Tuesday
Aug252009

U.S. Energy Use Decreases in 2008 [infographic]


Infographic from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, this is their estimate for the total U.S. Energy Consumption for 2008.  Although not depicted in the graphic, their estimate for energy usage dropped by 2% from 2007 to 2008, and use of alternative energy sources like wind and solar increased.

Found on CleanTechnica.com


Estimated U.S. Energy use dipped in 2008 to 99.2 quads (quadrillion BTUs), down from 101.2 quads in 2007. Energy flow charts show the relative size of primary energy resources and end uses in the United States, with fuels compared on a common energy unit basis. The amount of energy in one quad is equivalent to that produced by the burning of 36,000,000 tonnes of coal.