This blog follows on from the “Loving Functional Design in Surveys” blog.
In September, I spoke at the ASC Conference in Winchester, UK, and was lucky enough to listen to Tobias Sturt and Adam Frost from the Guardian talk about Infographics (you can download their slides here). They spoke about how it’s best practice to design with the content first, then the story, then finally, you choose the design in terms of images, fonts and so on.
The content (your data, percentages, message) should be what DRIVES the design of an infographic. Tobias and Stuart showed us all great examples of data visualisation, and poor examples. Just like any creative medium, there can be fantastic and poor application. Those poor design examples Tobias and Adam showed us seem to design for design’s sake – essentially looking like there was a lot to say, but the reader isn’t able to comprehend, or change, anything from the message that’s there. Sometimes the message gets lost in the design.
This prompted me to make efforts designing infographics of my own. I figured: I’m a graphics designer, I’m creative, I have tons of content to share, but can I design an infographic knowing I’d have a nod of approval from Tobias and Adam?
Looking at an infographic I created for Research Through Gaming a month or so ago (view it on Pinterest here), I realised after listening to their talk and the best practices I’d heard, that my infographic was crap! While it ‘looked’ like a typical infographic, and I had plenty of content to share, the design of it didn’t tell any kind of story. I should have made the content much more clearer so my own message wasn’t lost in the design itself.
Wanting to become a better infographics designer, I’ve been looking at infographics from different cultures and times in history. I went back to looking at the photographs of old infographics from my visit to the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami which were included in a blog I’d written “From the Soviets to MccCandless”, where I saw some of the oldest infographics in history from the times of the Soviets. I also looked at some more unusual and contemporary infographics. Here are my top infographics that I ‘think’ adhere to the truest forms of designing content which will resonate with readers and that will allow them to go “ooh, isn’t that interesting?”. So in order of personal preference, here are my most loved infographics:
The meaning behind he bow
It’s been a very long time since I’ve read Japanese, but that’s what I partly love about this infographic – that despite the language barrier I’m still able to understand that there are many kinds of bows and clearly appropriate in different situations. It’s simple, informative, and something I will definitely think of in my minds eye if I ever visit Japan.
Infographics about humans, made with humans
Design company Dare has used children in video and images to let us know about healthy living and promote it. Seen on wesbite Design Taxi, had it not been for me googling one Sunday afternoon, I wouldn’t have spotted it and I’ve not seen anything like this before. Their message was clear, powerful and I learned something by watching their video and was engaged my the design of it all – a design which supported the content. Is this an infopgrphic or an ad? You decide, but you can check out the full video and images here.
Infographics about tattoos, made from tattoos
This is a really well known infographic and so interesting to look at that it’s become a framed poster on many a household wall and even been used for advertising by one of the MR agencies. This infographic was created by Paul Marcinkowski (website here) and tells us about the most popular places for tattoos, the history of tattoos and how many people have them. It started as a school project but is now one of the most well-known infographics. What I love about this is that it doesn’t need big bold colours or the usual flat colours and graphics we usually see. It’s just one picture where again, the image is supportive and synonymous with the content.
What colours mean for brands
There’s a huge amount of information out there about the psychology behind colours, and the meaning behind brand logo designs, but this image concisely tells us, in Leymans terms, about the meaning behind colour and brands using those colours.
Unknown image and source – but this really caught my eye
I love this image. I don’t know what it’s for, or who made it but it’s a stunning image. If it’s been used to talk about perhaps skin diseases, then I can understand the use of the ‘blotches’ on the face and why some blotches have a bigger volume than other areas. However, I’m not sure what it’s for but figured I would add it here in case someone did know and can tell me!
So here are my top 5 – what are yours? And not just infographics, but advertisements too that help send across a message in a powerful, unforgettable way. Let me know your your personal bests.