HOW I CREATE AN INFOGRAPHIC / DATA VISUALIZATION
WHAT IS AN INFOGRAPHIC / DATA VISUALIZATION?
Data visualization and infographics unite great, modern design with complex numerical data. People simply love reading infographics and easily understand the data more.
"Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends."
HOW I CREATE A DATA VISUALIZATION / INFOGRAPHIC
PURPOSE OF USE
It is important to know how the data visualization will be used. Format and size, resolution (300 dpi for print, 72 dpi for "ordinary" screens, 200 dpi for Retina screens) and colours (CMYK for print, RGB for screens) depend on how the infographic will be used. Moreover, it is crucial to know who will read the infographic, as it has to be designed differently for end customers or business partners for example. A data visualization for a company can require knowing the brand design of that company. Here it makes sense to request the brand design manual.
Upon receiving the client‘s briefing, I group the data as how it will be displayed in the data visualization. At this stage, it is very important to thoroughly understand the data as well as finding links and connections between the data groups. A logical order of data groups determines the infographic‘s structure. Besides that, I scribble the entire infographic on paper in order to find the best design solutions for the data groups. This also gives me a feeling for size and order of specific style elements.
I find it important to have a colour concept. Only a design based on a concept, is a good design. For example, you can allocate different colours to different data groups. Or percentage numbers can be highlighted by using certain fonts and colours. How the colour concept looks like, depends very much on the theme, the purpose of use and the target group of the data visualization. I choose about five to eight matching colours that harmonize and complement each other well. Depending on how the data visualization will be used (digital or print), I pick CMYK, RGB or spot colours if the client specifically asks for that. Also hachures and patterns can be used to give the infographic design more oomph. But be careful: hachures and patterns shall be used only in small amounts. You don‘t want the data visualization to look messy.
Also shapes require a concept that runs through the infographic like a common thread and matches the theme. By the way: According to a study, data is more likely to be remembered when it is displayed in round shapes. This can be useful for calls to action ("buy now") for instance.
Here and there you can see data visualizations with photos in them. Placing an illustration into a photo can look quite nice, okay. But placing a photo into an illustration? This is a bit spooky and distracts the eye. The human eye is constantly looking for recognizing reality and tries to concentrate on the photo. The infographic around the photo becomes a bit oblivious. Mixing infographics and photos is dangerous and I recommend not to use photos.
ONE LAST TIP
I always create infographics in a vector program (i.e. Adobe Illustrator). This guarantees unlimited scaling without pixelation and gives me access to the full bandwidth of design possibilities. I have heard of graphic designers that create infographics in Adobe Photoshop. Too little design possibilities and pixelation when scaling make Photoshop a No-Go for creating infographics with. An infographic must be created in a vector program!
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