Tag Archives: Infographics

Exercise: birthday list

Tables and forms.  The exercise is to produce a poster of birthday dates to pin up as a reminder. It has to look good.  Decided to mock this up in an Access database, and see if it was possible to produce an Access report form that was attractive enough to pin up (unlikely).  The layout options are rigid and crude, it wastes space, and the tickboxes can’t be resized – which was the main problem. You can be creative with fonts however.  It’s a database report form, so the print layout is linear, and the size 0f the sections (ie months) vary depending on how many entries (birthdays) there are.  My idea was to produce it in monochrome and print onto patterned or coloured paper, in either a poster layout or a monthly tear-off type thing that could be strung together and hung up (space-saving).  The report would be printed to Adobe Acrobat first, then the printer, which would give more options for sizing the final thing.  Some notes:

Notes and doodles

Mockups in Illustrator:

Birthday poster mockup page patterned background

Birthday poster mockup page flowery patterned

Birthday poster mockup page deckle edge

Birthday poster mockup page on red

It didn’t really work, the vertical labels and the tickboxes disappeared into the paper, and there’s just not enough control over the elements to do much with it.  Basically, Access report writer is just too clumsy to be useful for most things, but especially this sort of project.

Calendar pages on different papers

Orange and yellow tear-off calendars

Report to print – sample (pdf)
This is better – colourful calendar design (by Jonathan Davies).


Exercise: Giving information

The topic is ‘My route to work’, not demanding geographically as I work at home mostly… the constraints are that it has to be an aerial or front on view; it has to use typography, numbers and colours, and have a title.  Also, it really has to be simple, too much information is meaningless, however beautifully arranged it is.  All my initial doodlings were maps and process diagrams, it was hard to think about how to translate this into ‘aerial or front on view’.  However a few ideas emerged > colour coded spots, coatracks, and staircase arrows.  Also the idea of using the side-on elevation view of the house to contain the route-map.  Also looked at some Miro and Georgia O’Keefe for ideas. Once the visual idea began to take shape, I started to re-shape and radically simplify the information to fit the visuals, rather than re-shaping the visuals to fit the information, so that the end result is more about getting across the idea than being statistically accurate.  Which might or might not be ok in a real situation.  These are my notebook pages:

notebook page drawing of the original map

spiral model and staircase arrows

Process diagrams

stairs and coatrack

journey as coatrack in house

drawn versions

Miro paintings to show shapes lines and spacing

painting of yellow ladder against desert sky

First version
Route to Work v1 (pdf)

The first version looks different on different screens, the transparency of the background layers doesn’t work with more light behind it.  Also the drawn house outline is out of style, the information needs bringing forward and the coat-rack effect needs emphasising more.

Second version
Route to work v2 (pdf)

As usual the process was more interesting than the result and my reviewer has now gone in search of one of those coatracks.

More infographic trawlings

These three use that previously fashionable style and palettes. ‘Designers v developers’ is another comparative, but uses cuteness, an orderly layout and dotted lines to link the graphics and the information. ‘ONG Mondiali’ uses that colour palette, and is similar in its orderliness and use of dotted lines to lead your eye around the information. No fancy graphics, just spots and icons, and so it’s easy to see which organisation has the biggest. The ‘Day in the life’ is a linear timeline, and a story, presented in strip cartoon style.

designers developers Graphic designer self referential ngos and social networks

‘Should I text him’ is a nice little flowchart, simply done and engaging, using 3 colours on white, and a minimal number of elements to deal with a complex routemap of dilemmas: advice boxes (endpoints), question boxes, filter boxes (crush, boyfriend, ex), yes/no decisions as purple dots, purple key question box and route etc.  Follows a contents list for a box of Lego with the sample pieces nicely arranged (and colour co-ordinated) as a grid, and then in complete contrast, a beautifully designed Greenpeace poster that groups visual elements, lines up text boxes in columns, and uses curves and lines to tie it all together and lead your eye around  in a sort of guided tour.

text him or notlego catalogue greenpeace poster

Finally – ‘Who’s the daddy’ the brightest and least sophisticated, with great clouds and 2 type of mountains; and the best and most minimalist which is the BP Eco Disaster, and which says it all without the need for statistics.

tallest mountains BP hand grenade - ecological disaster

Most of them came from Visual.ly

Infographics pickings

This is a random selection of infographics I’ve collected because I like them.  Some of them are complex and some nice and simple.  I’m looking for ideas, and simplicity (to suit my attention span). It’s definitely not this > Public spending 2010-11The first set are in Russian which I can’t read, so it’s easier to focus on the layout, the use of colour and strong shapes, and to to see similarities which indicate a common template. I really like the balance of neutral and strong colours, the use of transparency, and spots/dots/circles/whatever the technical term is. Very balanced, generally.

russian sample 3 russian sample 2 russian sample 1

The second set are long ones – designed for web.  ‘Your vote counts’ is clear and bright, grouping the elements together as distinct blocks, using dividing lines and a lot of cyan and magenta on white, so clean lines and high contrast. ‘Murders by firearm’ is a great shape and dominated by the long vertical ‘x’ axis of the graph, the bars and labels balancing into a great shape either side, topped off with the boldened header text.  ‘Boycott the bottle’ is beautifully focussed, with a very simple idea and nice use of blues.

voting sample firearms sample water sample

Another set of long(er) ones. ‘Mac v PC’ is in a very particular style of palette and  graphics that is a bit tired and overused now, which detracts from you wanting to read it – even though I like the style.  Also – is it an infographic or is it an illustrated (fashion) article? The core is  text, comparative lists – where does the dividing line lie???  ‘Iphone v android’ works much better, the layout is linear boxy in a similar way, but it’s more visual, using the recognisable icons/symbols.  It’s also only presenting a small amount of information relative to the size of the thing – simple comparative percentages.  The ‘Twitter’ one is an illustrated timeline making heavy use of the Twitter graphic style that rolls happily and bluely down the screen, with enough use of black and colours to liven it up.  The barchart at the bottom is messy and possibly needs more space around it, but nobody is going to get further down the screen than the cute whale anyway.

Social apps usage Mac Person vs PC Person  Following twitter sample

Most of them came from Visual.ly