Infographic design, or data visualization, has risen to an all-time high in popularity recently, but the concept of the infographic is hardly new. Our ancestors created illustrative information, data, and knowledge in the form of cave paintings and map drawings. And while the tools with which we create these depictions have changed, the process of information dissection and the application of visual form is quite the same. Present day issues such as shorter attention spans, information overload, a need for understanding, and the lack of reading retention are a few reasons why our clients, our audiences, and we love infographics.
The PDC team designs a series of reports for our longstanding client GYMR Public Relations. With each report, new content is laid out in our pre-designed template, sharing in-depth information with a specific audience. While the reports are full of important content and graphs, the information can quickly become a heavy read, no matter how much white space you add. For the latest report however, we were tasked with creating an accompanying infographic that visually explains how “capping tax exclusions of health benefits offered by employers can generate revenue and reduce the deficit”. Did we lose you with that title? Well this is precisely why an infographic is the perfect solution for quickly sharing the gist of the report.
Successful infographics tell a story in a visual language, providing quick relay, which can lead to audience understanding and growth. This success occurs through the understanding, dissection, and flow of content.
While it’s nearly impossible to know the subject matter in detail, as designers we need a general understanding of the content prior to designing. So reading over the content, we found ourselves researching “tax exclusion”, and how the researcher’s formula works. We read out loud and silently, brainstormed ideas in the margins, rewrote sections in our own words, and asked for input.
Quick Tip: Don’t just draw when you’re sketching, rewrite sections of the information, take notes on your thought process, and scribble in the margins.
Breaking the document apart into more manageable sections is a natural progression. By pulling out key words and phrases, like “federal government” and “people in the United States”, or even more broadly “stimulate” and “generate”, the issue, solution, and result of the document became very apparent. This discovery builds the structure of the infographic and begins to determine the flow of the information when design is actually applied.
Quick Tip: Use different color pens so you can see your process clearly and can refer back at any time.
Creating wireframes is a huge time saver, and more importantly it can be a lifesaver. Laying out the basic pieces of your infographic (in black and white) shows where essential information should be placed and at what size, establishing a hierarchy of information, without too much time investment. Infographic style will also help determine the overall message. During the research process, we played with various ways to use the United States as a graph and subtle textures to call out text. By continuously moving things off and around the page, rereading the content, working with the client, and always simplifying where possible, we hit a solution that was easy to understand.
Quick Tip: Wireframe in black and white!
Written by Ashley Bullard
Learn more about: GYMR, RWJF, Urban Institute