With years under her belt, Annoushka Owen is the Creative Director at Arro Communications and has honed her design craft. Working with complex and demanding topics, Annoushka has used wide ranging information and data visualizations to convey the story to the masses. We asked Annoushka a few questions about her infographic design process, here’s what she had to say:
1. Why should a firm use an infographic to showcase their fund?
Infographics are easier to read, share, are marketing-friendly, and a great way to showcase your brand or product.
Infographics are an exceptional way to visually communicate and explain blocks of information and data. They help you understand how they connect, how they flow and what they result in, all in one graphic. In a way it’s like having a bird’s eye view of what might otherwise have been a multi-page paper. Some might argue that seeing is better related to clearer thinking and comprehension. Infographics do just that. They translate the information into visual terms that will resonate with the layman as well as the most sophisticated of investors.
For more ideas on visual mediums, be sure to also see our Guide to Utilizing Animated Videos.
2. Are there different types of infographics?
Yes, there are! There are some that are purely data visualizations, others that are “classic infographics”–illustrations of a process or activity–and some that are a mixture of both.
In comparing the two, we will see that the data visualization is somewhat abstract. It provides a single point of view without much complementary information, while in a classic graphic the details are the essence of the piece.
I find that a combination of the two in varying degrees is my preferred approach so that both factual and data driven elements are explained, but a connection and emotional response can be generated as well.
3. Is there an optimal limit of images/words for an infographic?
There’s no solid formula or limits for this, but the guiding principle for all types of infographics is that they should be easy to grasp, and that visuals are used more than text. When text is used it should be short, clear and relevant to the concept being explained.
4. What are infographic best practices?
The number one goal of an infographic is that it must communicate information accurately and is easy to understand for all readers. In order to achieve this, the following must be taken into account:
- The infographic needs to be unambiguous so the viewer can grasp the context within the first few seconds. A succinct title can help with this.
- Keep the content to one or two topics – try to create a story.
- Keep only what’s absolutely essential; this is not a research paper.
- Remember who your target audience is.
- The design needs to be clear and simple; able to hold the viewer’s attention and with enough space between things to not be overwhelming or confusing.
- Always source your data. If sources aren’t included, then it is just an illustration or opinion, not a fact.
5. What’s your approach to taking dry data and text and using it to create an infographic?
I always joke that I’ve kept myself uneducated enough about our industry to be able to approach things from a layman’s point of view as much as possible.
Once I have all the information from the real experts in the field, my number one task is to make sense of it myself, and fully understand the context and concepts being described. Once I’ve achieved that–oftentimes with the guidance of my colleagues–I’m then able to re-explain everything in a simplified and visual-heavy way. The data becomes an illustrative tool and the text a mechanism to string “the story” together in a way that makes sense.
6. What is your work flow/process when designing infographics?
My first step is to always look at the data and text that has been provided and understand not just the concept, but also the story that the client is trying to tell, and to whom. What is the purpose of the infographic and how can I best explain it, both to myself and to the target audience.
I then proceed with a data and text dump, as an exercise to determine the hierarchy of the various pieces of information. The more complex the infographic, the more likely I am to do this on paper than digitally. This allows me to connect everything in a rudimentary and monochromatic way, while avoiding the pitfalls of design and making things pretty. It is of course important to uphold design principles like composition, color theory etc, but at this stage the content and storyline take priority. Design will follow function when it’s time. At the end of this stage I will generate a wireframe or “blueprint” of the infographic that we review with the client to make sure everything is correct and on message.
Once I’ve determined the storyline and what goes where, it’s time for design! I always keep the target audience’s visual literacy in mind as well as the client’s brand identity at this stage. With the “blueprint” of the infographic already determined in the previous phase, the design process is consequently simpler. Each element or group of elements is designed based on the brand guidelines and fundamental design principles are applied throughout to maintain the substance of the data visualizations and the integrity of the overall story.
Bottom Line: Infographics help make sense of complex information and data. They’re visual, shareable, fun to look at, and can make even the most boring and technical information look interesting. Be sure to check out our Infographics portfolio here.