We didn’t get to pull out the Muskoka chairs and relax on the cottage dock much over the summer. We were busy working on many exciting design projects – and the lake sits in one of the few internet access dead zones in the area. Now we have moved into our new office (more details coming soon) with strong Wi-Fi and are looking forward to sharing some of the work on kapdesign.ca and here on the KAP blog. Stay tuned!
We are in an information age where the quantity and complexity of information impedes understanding. Enter the information designer whose role is accurately described in ‘Information Design Workbook – Graphic Approaches, Solutions, and Inspiration’ by Kim Baer as:
“…the translating [of] complex, unorganized data into valuable, meaningful information”
Notice that the information designer does not ‘simplify’. Many times, information is never going to be simplified and still tell a meaningful story. Information design clarifies, it doesn’t simplify.
KAP was commissioned to create one comprehensive visual timeline to capture the evolution of The Seed Community Food Hub (above). The information graphic highlights key partners, achievements, turning points and more. There is a lot of information and simplifying any further would have reduced the value of the infographic.
When the extraneous data was removed, the remaining story was clarified using a visual theme (shelves of fresh food), icons, layout, and color. The visual narrative along the timeline isn’t simple but patterns, successes, and challenges are clear. The infographic will successfully inform the future evolution of the The Seed – a change that is complex, not simple.
First things first. When designing information graphics, focus on the ‘information’ before diving into the ‘graphics’. The success of an infographic rests on the quality of the story.
When it comes time to create the ‘visual’ in visual storytelling, it’s time to sketch. But wait! Don’t turn to your computer or tablet just yet. While many infographics are beautiful, vector-based, visual assets, you should begin with paper, pens, markers, pencils, and more paper.
Sketching is the perfect technology for creating your infographic concepts and sketches are ideal for sharing them with collaborators and clients.
Sketching Is Fast
When a designer is brainstorming alone or with others, ideas are rapidly flowing and transforming. Anything that slows down the process threatens the evolution towards a solution. Saving files, setting line weights and picking colours are all time-sucking, finicky adjustments inherent to working on a computer. Keep your laptop closed and instead grab some paper, quickly sketch your idea, grab a second sheet and sketch a change, scribble a note, overlay one sketch over another. At any time, lay out all of the sketches and survey all of the ideas. Only sketching can keep up with the speed of concept generation.
Sketches Are a Work In Progress
Collaborators and clients alike are more apt to critique a sketched infographic concept. A sketch communicates an idea in a design process and the quick, rough appearance welcomes honest feedback. A refined, “perfect” vector graphic looks complete and long past the point when big changes can be suggested.
Sketches Aren’t Fine Art
You don’t need to be a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design to create useful sketches that drive the design process. The best sketching is quick, minimalist and just a step above scribbling. The goal is to clearly capture your infographic ideas. Stick figures, simple shapes and some colours do the job.
Whether you are brainstorming around a whiteboard with collaborators or presenting to a marketing team at corporate headquarters, always include sketching. It’s efficient, engaging and honest. It’s every infographic designer’s most versatile tool.
KAP wishes everyone a festive holiday blend of good cheer, warmth and the unexpected. All the best in 2014!
We’ve updated the KAP Information Design Project Road Map infographic. Our clients have always valued the infographic because it clearly communicates how we work and once a project is underway, shows the next step and where we are in the process.