Five Principles of Infographic Excellence
We have been experimenting with the idea and the process of using infographics for all our research studies at Versta. Infographics are not easy, because they require careful attention to the data, to the succinct story that the data tells, and to graphic design. But so far I have been struck by how compelling research data can be with an extremely concise infographic “teaser” about the research findings. This week we are preparing one such infographic for a client who is using it next month in a public release of research we conducted for them. We will share it soon, along with a brief article with some “first learning” tips and tricks for preparing excellent research infographics.
In the meantime, I admit resisting the burgeoning popularity of infographics over the last few years, primarily because so many of them are terrible, violating the most basic principles of chart design and graphical excellence. So I pulled out the essential resource for data information and graphics: Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. It reminded me that, of course, there can be great infographics, as long as we pay scrupulous attention to a few fundamental principles:
1. Graphical excellence is the well-designed presentation of interesting data—a matter of substance, of statistics, and of design.
2. Graphical excellence consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, and efficiency.
3. Graphical excellence is that which gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.
4. Graphical excellence is nearly always multivariate.
5. Graphical excellence requires telling the truth about the data.
(From The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, p.51)
In whatever format you are presenting research data—tables, charts, infographics, even text—these principles apply. Stay tuned in the next few months for an early view of what we are learning as we apply these principles to our new-found fondness for infographics!