NEWS10 March 2020

How to make a good infographic

Media News Trends UK

UK – Good data visualisation must be based on a good story and the types of questions people ask themselves, according to Rob Orchard, editor and co-founder of Delayed Gratification, who shared tips for creating infographics at the Impact 2020 conference. 

Infographics on everything from what it takes to win an Oscar to what topics are most likely to appear in a Booker Prize-winning novel are a big traffic driver for the slow journalism magazine, but they must be based on a good story in the first place, said Orchard.

“There are no infographics without good stories. We see so much time and money being spent on infographics that don’t contain a relatable human story at their heart.”

There are five types of infographic, according to Orchard – illustrative, proportional, map, timeline or list.

Illustrative infographics are best to highlight single facts or statistics that give the reader a way in to the story – for example, an infographic the publication produced to highlight Manchester City’s spending in a season.

Proportional infographics are most suited to numerical comparison and giving context. Orchard highlighted a data visualisation the magazine had produced to illustrate how much it would cost  to buy everything editorially  recommended in the September issue of Vogue, and also produced a comparison for GQ.

Map-based infographics work best to highlight geographical patterns, but Orchard said: “We tend to shy away from them as Russia always win. We see so many infographics being made and colour coded but the problem is, the eye doesn’t see colours, it just sees how massive Russia is.”

What map-based infographics offer is the ability to see interesting clusters that aren’t necessarily visible when looking at a list, for example, a data visualisation the publication produced based on people’s responses to the religion question in the last census. “It’s always lovely if you  can allow people to find themselves in the data – for example, find their town,” said Orchard.

List-basedinfographics, meanwhile, are best for showing rankings, highlighting commonality and categorisation, such as the magazine’s infographic on ‘the best countries in the world', which is based on a number of data sources including the democracy index and the world happiness report.

However, Orchard added: "It’s rare that you would use just one of these on its own, the best infographics come from combinations."

One example of a combination is a data visualisation the magazine created after the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting, using data on mass shootings in the US in 2017. The line relating to the Las Vegas shooting was so long that the team couldn't fit it on to a double page spread in the magazine.