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The big rigmarole about creating infographics

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, November 20, 2014   


We have been having fun lately with infographics, one of our favourite things to do but something we do rarely. Getting infographics right, or close to right, takes a lot of commitment from all involved. It's a big rigmarole to work out what the key message is, develop the narrative, collect the supporting data and develop the visual story.

The end result of a good infographic usually looks very simple, and it should. But it will only be simple and work well if there is a big production behind the scenes. Much like making movies, the process of making infographics is long and drawn out, messy and creative. But it is heaps of fun.

the process of making infographics is long and drawn out, messy and creativeTweet this

A most common stumbling block is to limit the content to one key message that is supported by the graphics. This is hardly rocket science but it is tempting to put in all sorts of messages - a problem that is not unique to infographics. A useful way to focussing on having only one message is to frame the purpose of the infographic differently - think of it as an ad rather than a picture. 

By treating an infographic like an ad and applying the principles of advertising offered by David Ogilvy about a million years ago, you are more likely to achieve clarity of design thinking. Then, find the story that supports the message, find the data that supports the story and develop graphics to tell the story.

by treating an infographic like an ad…you get clarity of design thinkingTweet this

Here's one we prepared earlier - this two page flyer for the Office of Public Prosecutions in Victoria was produced for a Congress attended by visitors from interstate and overseas. The OPP in Victoria differs from the OPPs in the rest of Australia and the flyer was designed to describe the organisation in terms that made sense to the audience.

And that's the final key - know your audience. Tell the story to that audience using data, terminology and symbology that they will understand. No, there is one more final key - watch out for dumb analogies because they appear with alarming regularity in infographics. For more on dumb analogies take a look at this post.

watch out for dumb analogiesTweet this

If you are interested in infographics, we have a growing collection on Pinterest where we collect the ones we think are good and not just infographics, all sorts of data graphics, along with some examples of what not to do. Have a look but beware that you will lose chunks of time poking around in there!

At Hothouse Design we love a good book. Here is our recommendation from this post. Use our link to Amazon and the affiliate fees will go to charity:

Basic principles - they are in this book, Ogilvy on Advertising and are unchanged by time, media or medium. Anytime you need to be convincing you will benefit from having a basic understanding of advertising in your kit bag.

This post is by Deirdre Wilson, Director of Hothouse Design – Australia's most sensible information design company.
Deirdre applies her background in industrial design and design management to the complex and wondrous projects undertaken by Hothouse Design.

Basics. Know what they are. Get them right. Repeat.

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