Make information Beautiful

Learn from 25 Design experts [Infographic]

 

We live in a world of information overload. Every minute the amount of data that is  generated, collected and stored is growing exponentially.

While we have more information than ever at our disposal, telling compelling stories with data hasn’t become any easier.

After all, number are boring. You lose your audience the moment you start presenting digits and charts.

The challenge in data storytelling gave rise to information visualization. With origins dating back to the 1800s, statistical graphics was first invented by William Playfair to illustrate complex issues such as imports and exports differences between Britain and other countries. Following Playfair’s suit, people soon realized the power of infographics in communicating big ideas.

The reason? We are hardwired to be visual. Science has proven vision is the most powerful of all our sensory systems for cognition. 90% of all input in our brains is visual. People remember 60% of what they see, but only 40% of what they read.

What’s different nowadays is the shift from functional charts and graphs to more beautiful, interactive infographics. Boring designs increasingly fail to engage our audience; people crave for more art-like visuals. For the vast majority of non-designers out there, the challenge is to strive for a balance between beauty and functionality.

In our quest to learn how to make sense of all the information out there, we asked 25 experts for their best advice on how to tell visually compelling data-driven stories. We hope these experts’ tips will help you communicate data-driven information in an engaging way.

 

 


 

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Gareth Cook

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, contributing writer to the New York Times and editor of the bestselling series The Best American Infographics, tells us about the importance of storytelling: “Never lose sight of the most important question: What is the story you are trying to tell?”


Alberto Cairo

Author of “The Functional Art” and Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the School of Communication of the University of Miami, says “The key to making information visual is to first have good information: not information that pushes your agenda or that helps you sell your products, but information that has the potential of improving people’s lives.”

After one has gathered the right information, the rest comes naturally, says Alberto Cairo. “The easy part is that the information needs to be presented in a manner that human beings can understand, choosing maps, charts, graphs, and diagrams well.”


Steven Heller

Steven is an author of many books on design and visual culture books including “Infographics Designers’ Sketchbooks”. For 33 years he was an art director at the New York Times. He is co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author Department, Special Consultant to the President of SVA for New Programs. He tell us: “Pictures are not words but words should stem from pictures. The two must go hand in hand whether in text or in thought.“


Brian Wallace

Brian is an infographic scholar and founder of Nowsourcing, an award-winning infographic design agency. He’s also columnist at CMS Wire & Search Engine Journal and serves as a Google SMB Advisor. His advice: “The art of visual storytelling is the right mixture of brevity of words, compelling data, and quirky, but beautiful, design.”


Bianca Woods

Bianca is the cofounder of Clever Raptor, an L&D design studio, and Advisor of Design and Communication for BMO Financial. She says the important thing in visualizing information is to “keep things simple: when you’re trying to represent data concisely with visuals, edit out any details that don’t strongly add to your overall clarity.”


Tiago Veloso

founder of Visual Loop, a leading blog about infographics and data visualization. He looks at data visualization as a form of artistic expression: “Data Visualization offers the sort of mainstream trans-universality that only artistic expressions such as music can achieve – without the subjectivity in interpretation inherent to all art forms.”


Bill Shander

Bill is a well-known speaker and author on visual communication and data storytelling. He is the founder of Beehive Media, a Boston-based data visualization and information design consultancy.

Speaking from his experience working with notable companies on data viz, Bill says the most important thing in visualizing information is to know what you REALLY want to say. “If you know you want to emphasize X or draw a contrast between A and B or reinforce theme Z, your visuals should focus 100% on that primary communications goal.”


Julius Wiedemann

Julius is Chief Executive Editor for Design and Pop Culture and Editor in charge for design and director of digital publications at TASCHEN. He is editor of the book “Information Graphics”. His advice:  “Humans think in metaphor all the time, so if you are able to find one or many to make something complex easy to explain, and therefore make people understand, you are on the right track.”


Dona Wong

Dona has over two decades of experience in financial graphics. She began her career as a business graphics editor at The New York Times and later headed the graphics department at The Wall Street Journal. She is author of “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics”, a book on the do’s and don’ts communicating through charts and graphs. She says the key to translating information visually is to “Understand, edit and simplify the information — and design with your readers in mind.”


Krista Neher

Krista is CEO of Boot Camp Digital and Digital Marketing Expert. She wrote the book “Visual Social Marketing For Dummies”. Speaking of using infographics in storytelling, especially for marketing purposes, Neher says: “Visuals should clarify and simplify your story. The right visual should tell your story better and faster than text. Not every image is worth 1,000 words. Make yours count.”


Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Cole is the author of “Storytelling with data: a data visualization guide for business professionals“, and owner of the popular blog StorytellingWithData.  Her tips for using data to tell stories in the business context: “Never simply show data; rather, make data a pivotal point in an overarching story and use it to drive your audience to action.”


Swizec Teller

Swizec is a digital nomad, full stack web engineer and author of Data Visualization with d3.js. He says the key to translate data into visuals is to “find the surprise in your data and add it as the title.”


Benjamin Wiederkehr

Benjamin is Director of Interactive Things, a Swiss design studio specialized in User Experience Design and Data Visualization, and editor at https://datavisualization.ch/, a Swiss resource site for data visualization and infographics. His advice: “We don’t design for the data, we design for humans. Therefore, we have to consider the reader and their context when designing visualizations.”


Silvio Da Silva

Silvio is an An experienced digital media data designer editor, creative director with experiencing working with major news networks such as Associated Press, Thomson Reuters, NBC Universal etc. Silvio says: “Data visualization design portrays Content and Context – a storytelling that can be only created with Data.”


Eva Absher-Schantz

 Evas VP of Visual Identity for National Geographic Kids Media. She was pivotal in creating By the Numbers: 110.01 Cool Infographics Packed with Stats and Figures, a book bringing worldly knowledge to kids with engaging visuals.

When asked about how to accomplish such a feat for a visually inclined audience, Eva says: “When visual information is layered it can create an entry point for a reader; the more entry points you have, the more opportunities you have to engage your audience.”


Randy Krum

 Randy is president of InfoNewt, an Infographic design agency, and owner of the popular blog Cool Infographics , a leading source of inspiration for infographic design. He authored the book Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design, a comprehensive guide book on how to create infographics.

Randy stresses the importance of color: “Use color to highlight the insight from the data and draw the readers’ attention to the key message of the design.”

 


Scott Addington

Scott is a marketing director by day and history buff by night. As author of The Great War 100: The First World War in Infographics, he looks for new, innovative ways to recount history with stunning visuals.

He advises on using visual as the key differentiation between forgettable and memorable content: “Compelling visualisation of a message could be the difference between content that is forgotten, and content that is remembered and shared.”


Miriam Quick

Miriam is a researcher specializing in information visualization. Her work has appeared on BBC.com,  British Council, David McCandless (informationisbeautiful.net), WIRED UK.

She speaks from a research perspective on how to select and represent data: “Understand what shape the information wants to take – that’s what your visualisation should look like.”

He advises on using visual as the key differentiation between forgettable and memorable content: “Compelling visualisation of a message could be the difference between content that is forgotten, and content that is remembered and shared.”


David McCandless

David is widely known in the data visualization world for his data journalism work and best selling book “Information is Beautiful”. His new book “Knowledge is Beautiful” builds on his previous work and goes deeper into how the world works with visualized data.

David has said in a Reddit AMA that story should emerge from the data once you understand it: “You really don’t design data when you visualise. You design your understanding of the data.”

He has summarized what makes a good visualization in this graphic below:

web_what-makes-a-good-infoviz-frame02


James Ball

James is special correspondent at BuzzFeed UK and formerly data journalist at The Guardian. He also authored “Infographic History of the World”, a book that walks you through 13.8 billion years of history in beautiful visuals.

James says in an interview with ichart.net: “Visualization is great fun because it’s all about working out the absolute best way to make information exciting.”


Payman Taei

Payman is founder of Visme, a drag-and-drop visual content tool, and HindSite Interactive, a web design agency. Speaking from years of design experience, Payman suggests that when it comes to visualizing information, “Try the Less is More approach. Shorten complex data into bite-sized snackable content and convert them into steps such as phases.”


Francesco Franchi 

Francesco is an award-winning graphic designer, journalist and professor. He is the author of two books: The Intelligent Lifestyle Magazine – Smart Editorial Design, Ideas and Journalism and Designing News – Changing the World of Editorial Design and Information Graphics.

His advice to us for translating information visually: “Form and content have to work together to deliver an idea that is enjoyable, useful and informative”.

 


Nathan Yau 

Nathan is the author behind flowingdata, an extremely popular data visualization blog. He is a statistician and information designer who experiments a lot with personal data. He also wrote the book Visualize This and Data Points.

His insights on storytelling through data especially personal data: “We can make it human, and all of sudden people listen and understand that this data is about them.”


Amy Balliett

Amy is the co-founder and owner of Killer Infographics, a boutique design agency based in Seattle that has designed more than 3,000 infographics, motion graphics, and interactive graphics for clients such as Microsoft, Boeing, Adobe, Nikon, Starbucks and the United Nations.

Amy shared her foresights on where the world of visual communication is headed: “We’re moving more towards an interactive world where we’ll see more parallax scrolling infographics, animated motion graphics”.


Nicholas Feltron

Nicholas is an infographic designer and author of Personal Annual Reports, a project that visualizes and reflects upon his own personal data every year since 2013. He is the co-founder of Daytum.com, co-creator of Report app, and was a member of the product design team at Facebook.

On information design, Feltron says: “Forms, colors and typography have to work together to achieve a balance, and communicate what you want to say.”

 

Turning information into beautiful design can be a daunting task.  

At Visme, we are committed to making visual communication easy for you. Now everyone can use the drag-and-drop DIY tool to create interactive presentations and infographics in minutes.

No design training needed.

You can check out more practical tips and inspirations at our Visual Learning Center, or sign up for our newsletter to have expert tips delivered to your inbox.

We have exciting programs coming up to help you transform boring data into beautiful visuals.  Stay tuned!

90% of all information transmitted to our brains is visual.
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