Randy Krum is the President of InfoNewt and author of the Cool Infographics blog.  Here he shares design tips and behind the scenes information about designing infographics.

Cool Infographics Blog

Check out the Cool Infographics blog for great infographics from designers all over the world!

Entries in Timeline (3)


A Christmas Example of Online Lifespan

A Christmas Example of Online Lifespan infographicThe History of Christmas Tradition, Balsam HillOnline Lifespan is the length of time that a particular infographic design will remain relevant and interesting to readers.  It takes the same amount of effort to research and design an infographic about a hot, trending news topic as it does to design a more general, informational topic; however, the client will get much more value from a design with a long Online Lifespan that will generate traffic and links for years.

The History of Christmas Tradition designed for Balsam Hill is a design with a long Online Lifespan.  The design is a multi-tiered timeline that covers the history of Christmas over hundreds of years, and even though the most recent event is from 2007, the history will be "relevant and interesting" to readers for years to come.  In fact, it should drive new traffic in the month of December every year, which is fantastic for a company that sells Christmas trees!

A Christmas Example of Online Lifespan infographic


Honda Accord Infographic PR Banner, Behind the design

Honda Accord Infographic PR Banner at an eventInfoNewt designed this infographic PR banner for Honda America as part of their promotion activities supporting the release of the new 2013 Honda Accord.  These 9ft banners were on display at PR events in cities all over the country through August and September.

This is a great example of getting more ROI value out of one design project.  In addition to being used as banners at the events, both a printed version and an electronic version on USB drives were included in the PR kit handed out to members of the press that attended the events.  Finally, the infographic was released online to appeal to the broader consumer audience.

At InfoNewt, we focus on two levels of an infographic design.  Most of the audience will only spend five seconds or less reading the infographic, and the information that a reader can walk away with in that time is called the top level.  We identify what we call the "Key Message" with the client up front when we begin a design project, because we want the infographic to communicate that message in the top level of the design.  The second level of the design is the rich, detailed information and data visualizations that support the Key Message.  A smaller portion of the audience will take the additional time to absorb and understand that deeper level of detail, but they are also paying very close attention and will comment about any mistakes made in the designs.

The Key Message of this particular design is that Honda has been building Accords in the U.S. for 30 years.  In fact, they've been building them at the same manufacturing plant in Marysville, OH for all 30 years.  The design communicates this message very quickly to the audience, and all of the additional technical specifications of the different Accord models through the years is second level data.

The color waterfall of the available exterior colors for every model year is a fun, engaging design element that initially attracts most viewers, but was especially challenging.  The team at Honda had to dig back into their physical, historical archives over a period of a few weeks to gather the old model specifications and take high-resolution pictures of the old brochures.  This was especially challenging because none of the old materials have been electronically archived or were allowed to leave the building.

There is a lot of detail in the second level of the design.  The 2013 model of the Accord is the ninth major redesign of the car, and that gave us the opportunity to focus the timeline on the changes made with each major redesign.  The design highlights some of the most significant features of each model design, and even distinguishes between standard and optionally available elements.  CD player launched in the fourth generation, side airbags launched in the sixth generation, etc.

Although most of the data is represented with icons, we found that actual photos of each model design made them quick and easy to recognize.  The timeline starts with the second generation because that was the first model built in the U.S. and reinforces the Key Message of the overall design.  Wheelbase is shown as a dimensional arrow in each photo, which puts the data into context and performs the dual purpose of also visually explaining what the wheelbase dimension is to any readers that don't already understand.

Down the left side of the design is an additional, subtle data visualization that places each 1 million cumulative Accords produced on the timeline.  This leads up to the current major milestone of 9 million Accords produced in the U.S. that was reached in 2012.

The online version of the infographic is available from the Honda News account on Flickr:




Gov 2.0 Infographic: Bringing the Tobacco Control Act to Life

CROSS-POST from Cool Infographics:

In 2011, Enspektos, a health marketing communications innovation consultancy, invited InfoNewt (my company) to be involved in a special project the firm was leading on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP).  As a new federal agency, the CTP is tasked with regulating tobacco products and preventing tobacco use – especially among youth.

During the project, we collaborated with the CTP to help create The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act: Facts, History and Milestones, an infographic timeline that covers the past and future actions related to the Tobacco Control Act passed in 2009.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) is an important piece of legislation with many requirements. This infographic illustrates the history, rationale and major events associated with the Act. The Tobacco Control Act provides all of the events, deadlines and requirements in full and should be used as the final resource for information about the Act.

The infographic is yet another example of Gov 2.0, or the effort to utilize a range of digital technologies to improve government transparency and public understanding of how federal agencies function.  The original Tobacco Control Act is a 68-page document available online, but in actual practice that isn’t easily accessible or understandable by the general public.  The FDA has created several tools to help the public understand the Tobacco Control Act, like a snapshot overview of the Act, an interactive scrolling timeline viewer, a searchable interface and the infographic timeline.

On Wednesday, April 25th, the FDA is holding a LIVE webinar to share the different tools they have created to help everyone access and understand specific information from the 68-page law. 

Attend Our Live Webinar!

As you might expect from an official government publication, the design went through many iterations of review and revisions.  In my opinion, the final infographic is text-heavy, but strikes a balance between optimal design and content that was vetted and approved by many different individuals at the CTP. 

Fard Johnmar, Founder and President of Enspektos agreed to answer some questions about the project.

Cool Infographics: How do you think the infographic and other tools will aid public understanding of the Tobacco Control Act and the CTP? 

Fard Johnmar:  I think the infographic and other tools are an important step for the federal government.  Transforming dense and complicated legislation into simple, visually appealing information products is a very difficult process.  You have to balance the wish to make things clear and concise with a requirement that information be as accurate and complete as possible.  

We had two primary goals: The first was to improve the public’s understanding of the Tobacco Control Act.  The second was to get people within FDA comfortable with using new tools that help visually communicate important regulatory and public health information.  Now that this project is complete, I think FDA will be looking for other ways to communicate about its mission and activities in more visually appealing ways.

Cool Infographics: Do you see other health and medical organizations using visual communications techniques? 

Fard Johnmar: Absolutely.  In fact, since we published the Empowered E-Patient infographic a few years ago, I’ve seen a number of health organizations using infographics to communicate about a range of topics, including GE for its Healthymagination project (click here for a few sample infographics).

Cool Infographics:  How difficult was it to push the infographic through the FDA approval process

Fard Johnmar: As you can imagine, getting final approval for a novel visual project like this can be difficult for large organizations.  However, there was a real passion for the project from Sanjay Koyani, Senior Communications Advisor at the CTP and other members of his team.  They helped to successfully meet all of the legal requirements and answer the numerous questions posed by colleagues at the CTP.  Now there is a higher comfort level at the agency with utilizing these types of visual tools to tell the CTP story.

I truly appreciated being involved in the project, and think this is a really big step towards making the often overly complex information released through official government channels more understandable to more people.

Thanks to Enspektos and the team at the Center for Tobacco Products!