Thursday, January 23, 2014

Telling Your Nonprofit's Stories Visually

Urban Bar Chart [Explored]
Urban Bar Chart [Explored] (Photo credit: ron.diel)
Humans are wired to process pictures. Scientists previously thought it took 1/10th of a second for us to recognize a picture, but have recently found that we're actually a lot faster at it than they had thought. Data can be complicated, hard to digest, and difficult to recall, but organizing the information visually can make it easier to remember.

We're all familiar with looking at data in a spreadsheet, seeing connections in a Venn diagram, or comparing information via bar charts. But in these days of information coming at you faster than you can digest it, modern infographics can help you make your point more clearly, making it stand out from the rest.

So what do you need to keep in mind when putting together an infographic?

  • Simplicity
  • Story Flow
The best infographics are simple. One of the best ways to learn something is to imagine you're teaching it to someone else. Use the simplest language possible and strive to make the graphics easy to understand. Here's a nice one from Fuzebox on how multitasking can actually impede productivity (sorry about the overlap - Visually's embed feature and Blogger don't seem to play well together):

Story Flow
While Fuzebox's infographic is graphically appealing, you don't have to be a graphic artist to present information in a graphic form. What's important is the information and the flow. Even in graphic form, you're telling a story. In an infographic, the story is visual and must lead the readers' eyes through to the conclusion. Take a look at this very simple graphic using just a bar chart:

Orientation Counts
Though these two graphics are very different in presentation, in one way they are the same: they both present their information vertically. Remember that most of your readers will be scrolling down a screen - no one likes to have to scroll horizontally. What else makes a good infographic? Let me know what you think is important in the Comments.

Next week we'll have a guest post, presenting some examples of good nonprofit infographics.

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