06 Jul

visualising the evidence at eblip8

Today I ran a workshop on infographics at the Eighth International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference (aka EBLIP8). I promised to make my presentation and a bunch of materials available online, so here they are!

Presentation

Please note all icons used in this presentation are from The Noun Project and used without citation because I’m a premium subscriber (just so you know I’m not being dodgy).

Presentation resources

The following links were used in the presentation:

Tools and resources for making infographics

I’m focusing here on tools and resources that are either free, have free versions, or that you probably already have on your computer.

Infographic creation tools

These tools are designed specifically to help you make good looking infographics without having to know the ins and outs of design applications.

DIY from scratch

Want to bake your cake from scratch instead of out of a box? You’ll need a tool in which to make the infographic, a tool to make graphs or charts, some fab fonts and a bunch of icons.

Software to make your infographic

If you want to get creative or you want more flexibility than you get from infographic creation tools, you can make your own infographics with nothing more than PowerPoint (or Keynote). And they won’t look like you used PowerPoint. For realz.

Here are some resources to help you with using PowerPoint to make infographics:

If you want to step it up just slightly, you might find image editing apps useful. You can get Adobe Photoshop CS2 for free (instructions!). It’s old, but it’s all you need to do basic things like change the colour of an icon.

Software to make charts

I just make my charts in PowerPoint by inserting a chart and then inputting the data into the linked spreadsheet that PowerPoint automagically creates. Play with colours and fonts to make it look fancy or just fit in with your theme.

There are also a number of online tools you can use, but PowerPoint will definitely do the job with minimum fuss.

Icon sources

  • The Noun Project: icons (including vector versions) for absolutely everything and pretty much my favourite tool of all time. Use the icons for free under a CC-BY license (although some are even public domain), buy individual icons for $1.99, or sign up for a premium subscription for about USD$100 a year and save yourself the extra work of citing the icons. PLUS you support the artists and you support this fantastic resource.

The End.

Actually, there are other sources and I should mention, even though all you really need is The Noun Project. Here are some other options:

  • Iconfinder: vector icons – many free and not requiring attribution
  • iconmonstr: another source for free vector icons, many not requiring attribution
  • customizr: free, custom icons – I mostly use this generator to create social media icons that are a specific shape and colour
The Unspoken Law of Infographics

You’re not allowed to use clip art.

Ok, so maybe I made that up, but it should be a law. Clip art is just ugly. Simple, classic icons will help your infographic age gracefully and it will just look more polished.

Fonts

I’m a little bit of a typography nerd. If you need to put a presentation together fast, choose two contrasting fonts and two colours and carry them through the whole presentation. When you pick beautiful fonts and use them thoughtfully in combination with other beautiful fonts, you don’t need fancy images (or clip art).

Find fonts at:

Extras

Things like digital scrapbooking paper, digital washi tape, or high quality clip art (I’m talking designed-by-a-designer, costs-you-money, really-very-polished, belonging-in-the-21st-century clip art) can add something extra to your infographics.

Example: you’re making an infographic about the movie Frozen. You could buy yourself these clip art versions of the characters and fancy yourself up a pretty great infographic. Ok, so maybe you don’t want your infographics to look like an invitation to a six year old’s birthday party (which is what I actually used those clip art characters for), but my point is: you can buy high quality clip art really cheap from places like Etsy. And some of that clip art is really good clip art and it’s okay to use. Just try to avoid the stock stuff that comes with Office apps.

I’ve put together a list of examples of items I’ve bought on Etsy or bookmarked for later purchase to use in design projects, including on infographics.

There is also lots of free stuff out there, but I get a bit overwhelmed by the volume of free stuff. To manage that, I try to proactively save stuff to Pinterest boards for later use.

Recommended reading

For all the people who think they aren’t visual people

Firstly, this is not actually true. Our brains are geared to process images.

But if you really think you are visually challenged, I highly recommend this blog post called A basic visual design guide for the visually incompetent.

Just make sure you don’t take on the rhetoric of ‘I’m not a visual person’ and ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body’, because your brain is perfectly equipped to take in visual info and nobody on the face of the planet has a creative bone because it’s actually a skill, rather than a bone. Creative does not equal artistic. Creativity needs to be nurtured and developed.

Data visualisation

Infographics

Visual thinking

Information design

Visual perception

Visualisation in service design

Play

  • Browse Image Quilts, a project of Edward Tufte and Adam Schwartz, and try out the Image Quilts Chrome extension

Spend a little for great gain

Some of you were intrigued by Fiverr, which I used to source an artist to create the avatars for participants in my PhD study. I recently wrote a blog post on things I outsource, and there’s info there on using Fiverr and Freelancer to get design and web work done.

Making the infographic is the easy part

After the workshop today, someone said to me, ‘It was finding the insights in the data that was the hardest part’. And that is totally true. At the heart of every good infographic is good data, good analysis, and a good story. So don’t let the making scare you. That part is actually really easy. Invest energy in finding good insights and you’ll be on the road to creating awesome infographics.

Share your tips and tools

Got favourite infographic making tools or tips? Please share them in the comments.

13 Jun

learn about infographics with me at eblip8!

QUT is hosting the Eighth International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice conference in July. And I’m excited to be running a workshop on infographics and visualisation.

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Visualising the evidence

Think you’re not a visual person? Think again! Together, the human eye and brain are geared to effectively and efficiently process visual information. Images transcend divides that are created by language. In fact, images give us a common language. Data visualisation can help us to sense-make, communicate evidence, unravel complex issues, and clarify thinking. In this workshop, we’ll talk about data visualisation, infographics, visual thinking, and information design, and we’ll explore how these can help us to work with evidence. We’ll also look at some simple tools and resources you can use to help you visualise evidence.

Did you know you can register to attend a workshop only? For $95, you can come along to my workshop or one of the other five workshops scheduled for the first day of the conference.

I <3 EBLIP

This is one of my favourite conferences, for a bunch of reasons:

  • It’s truly international, pulling delegates from all around the world.
  • It’s small enough to be pretty intimate and not too scary on the networking front.
  • EBLIP3 in Brisbane in 2005 was (I think!) the very first conference I spoke at. Sort of. I was on a debate panel, debating against some serious EBLIP big wigs. And we won! So I didn’t present a paper, but I did get to ‘roast’ (in his own words!) the formidable Andrew Booth (he reminded me of this when I saw him at EBLIP6 in 2011 in Manchester).
  • EBLIP6 in Manchester was the first time I spoke at a conference outside Australia, presenting a paper I co-authored with Zaana Howard. We won both best paper prizes: delegates’ choice and program committee’s choice.

Full registration

Registrations are still open for the full conference and the program looks great. Student registrations are $255 or full registrations are $595.

You can also register for a workshop only for the bargain price of $95. Check out the workshop program. Or just sign up for mine, because it’s going to be a whole lotta fun!

#blogjune 14/30