Monday, March 12, 2012

Staying away from the Yellow: a quick guide for info graphics

One of the many things that interested me when I was in Highschool was Journalism. I had been accidentally placed by the school system in a TV production class (I signed up for a Jewelry class, go figure). One of the first things we learned in this class was about what not to do with our journalism by reading about the yellow journalists.
These journalists used their opinions (or the opinions of others) as absolute fact, something that could easily change how things work. Now one of the things I have been working on for the project is trying to help the groups to develop good infographics... the key word being 'info'.

How do we choose information to present in an info graphic? First it needs to be pertinent. If we are making a graphic about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for example, we may have information regarding how many members are on Facebook on a daily basis... but if we are trying to get information out on what the church believes that information is rather useless. You would be better to see if you can get information on how many members take sacrament each week, or maybe how many attend church on a regular basis. Second, the information needs to have reliable sources. Just like any research article you write for class the infographics that you produce need to have reliable sources for the information that you portray... Wikipedia and some websites have plenty of inaccurate information on the beliefs of the Church (I'm pretty certain that there are no human sacrifices in LDS Temples).Third, the information you share on the info graphic shouldn't be excessive. For example, if we are planning to share with people how laws are made, you need to decide how much information is needed to present it to people. This example is very thurough, but you loose the reader about 3 min in because the graphic is so cluttered with (admittedly useful) information that they don't really know what to do or where to read all of the information. Fourth, you need to have a flow. Humans like categories... if you just give them a list of information in a random order they are not going to remember it as well as when you order that information in groups or in a visual pattern. The flow dosen't have to be complicated... the example of the LDS infographic you see that they categorized the information and then put in a list form, complicated? No. Useful? Yes, you can still remember the information after you are done reading it.

With this said infographics are one of the most interesting ways to digest information for other people to use quickly. (Imagine if you college textbooks had put the information that you needed for the class in a simpel infographic for you to memorize) Hopefully this post helps people understand how to create a better infographic.

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