Making good infographics.
Understanding planning, team dynamics, data and designers
THE BIG PICTURE
Even the best infographic designs will be undermined without good planning, healthy team dynamics, and a solid understanding of your message, audience, goals and data
Here's a cool idea for an infographic.
These are the points we want to make.
Let's see if the data supports that.
These are the people we want to reach.
This is what we want them to do after reading the graphic.
Poor planning can be expensive.
Process doesn't need to involve a dozen people-it can be just you and a designer.
But if you are going to design an infographic, you need to understand the roles that your team will be playing-for data, writing content, and design or coding.
Whether you're a team of two or a team of six (or more), nailing down roles can lessen confusion about responsibilities and reduce errors in content, data and design. Even if team members wear several hats, make sure they team understand who does what and when.
The designer's role
Can you avoid micro-managing and design by committee?
Who is your designer? Do you see her/him as adding unique expertise that you value?
Assess the designer's role and your team's perception of his/her skill set to avoid micro-managing, design by committee and designers unable to give you their best work. Good communication, clear roles and expectation, and respect for each person's expertise gets you a better infographic every time. Work hard to get there and you won't be sorry.
Just because you can say it doesn't mean you can show it.
Know your data.
Pare down the data by choosing the key findings that support the main messages/headlines of your graphic.
Sometimes content (especially when repurposed from other materials) may make claims that simply don't bear out well when illustrated
Widget sales are at an all-time high! Um, barely.
Message, audience & goals
To build an infographic, start here:
(X product) is an (X description of product) that provides (X what) for (X audience) in order to (X value proposition).
Jot down key findings, trends and outliers. Keep your designer in the loop. An informed designer is a good designer.
Create a content outline of the main and subheadlines of your graphic. Do they alone tell the story well?
Draw a Sketch
Sketch out your main and sub headlines and graphics into sections on paper. Make the graphics accurate enough so that they show the real findings.
Does data support content? Now you can "read" the sketch as your audience will-and ensure that your visuals support your message.
Infographic, motion graphic, interactive? With the basics in place, an experienced designer can help you decide how your content and data are best executed.
Now the work moves to a designer and a computer. With each designed draft, the level of effort required to make edits increases. Manage it wisely and early to avoid expense and frustration.
Review & publish
Limit your reviewers to a key editor and approver-those with enough clout to limit needless edits, or to approve additional changes and resulting costs.
GOT EDITS? IT MAY CO$T YOU.
Making edits efficient and inexpensive.
Make edits early when you haven't invested too much time or money in design.
BEGINNING OF DESIGN PROCESS: PAPER SKETCH
easy & cheap
-More people have input in the beginning
-Big-picture edits easy to make
difficult & costly
-Few people have input (decision-makers)
-Minor edits easy to make
-Major edits difficult to make
9 reasons why things go south (in no particular order)
1) Too many people involved (or the wrong people suggesting edits at the wrong time).
2) team members brough in to give feedback who were not made aware of the original goals, message, audience and parameters of the infographic.
3) People (including the designer or project lead) who lack the necessary skills/experience or...
4) Not enough of an overall direction given to team about what the graphic needs to accomplish, for whom and why.
5) Decision-makers not focused enough to give careful feedback at critical junctures (you may notice this when working with team members who are pulled in different directions), resulting in folks who keep "catching" things with each iteration.
6) The data changes. Or it changes in a direction that you weren't expecting
7) A designer rushed (or is rushed) to complete a design before examining the data in its entirety. Often, a deeper dive produces exceptions, holes and outliers that can change the scope of a graphic.
8) Rushed timing. Assumptions are made about how long a graphic will take to produce without adequate feedback from the team who will create it (writers, editors, data people, designers).
9) Wrong assumptions made about how "easy" it is to create a graphic from repurposed content.