Thursday, April 17, 2014

The power of infographics

For those of us who are visual, creative, thinkers... data can be overwhelming.  Just picking up a budget spreadsheet causes my eyes to glaze over.  However, great sites now offer professionally created inforgraphics covering a wide range of interesting concepts, topics, data, and ideas.  My favorite of these sites is 

Each week sends out an email with new and interesting info graphics.  Taking a break from current tasks and browsing through the imagery rejuvenates and inspires.

Recently I felt bold enough to try out some info graphic creation of my own.  I've seen some useful tools and templates online, but I wanted something a little more organic and a little less helpful.  HubSpot has a free PowerPoint template with 5 preset graphic styles.  Everything a creative needs to get started and test the waters.
I signed up on their site for the free templates, here is the link: Free Infographic Template on HubSpot.  Then I make a copy of the original, delete all but one of the slides, delete most of the template content, and design away.  I've also found it useful to build in stages, using a separate PPT file to create a section of content and the copy and paste all onto the info graphic template.  Once my design is complete, I save it as a PDF, the open the PDF and export as an image.  To me this is a natural way to tell a visual story using familiar tools and processes.

Here's an example of my first attempt.  This info graphic was used in a district-wide online professional developent training on Common Core, PARCC assessments, and the connection of those to our district strategic plan - MNPS 2018.  You can see how each of the three sections is divided, those were each built separately in their own PPT file and then copied and added to the info graphic file.  Once the major content and imagery was in place, I shared the raw file with my team and had them make changes to text and font, shadows, and reflections to produce a jazzier feel.  The final product was then uploaded in the course and printed off using a poster maker.

We were all rather pleased with the results but were unprepared for the popularity of the graphic.  Several schools have made their own posters of the info graphic, and recently one school even tweeted out an image of the poster.

So, why not give it a shot?  Download the templates for yourself and see what you can do. Just be sure to post in the comments so others can see your amazing info art!

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