When I competed with Gina Gioldassis in the Adobe Creative Jam NYC, we challenged ourselves to build a finished 5+ panel infographic in under 3 hours. Not only did we achieve our goal but we also won Judge’s Choice and People’s choice in the digital design category at the Adobe Creative Jam. This experience was a rewarding way to practice our storytelling skills, time management, and find ways to optimize our data collection.

Here are a few tips to building a finished infographic in 3 hours:

Come up with a Concept

When receiving a prompt, its important to have a question to answer or a theory to explore. David McCandless describes this process as ‘developing the seed’ when he develops infographics. In our experience, we aligned on exploring “___ is more” in the context of what does it mean to live a fulfilling life.

Collect Data

The data should be relevant and from a reliable source. When searching for data online its important that the data is not taken out of context. Sources such as Statista and NY Times are two examples of sources that are reliable for building story-telling infographics. In our experience we focused on demographic PR from consumer products and the US census bureau.

Have a Visual Assets Library

Building an infographic involves a variety of visual elements ranging from illustrations, to iconography. To prepare, I constantly build and organize my custom visual assets into resource libraries. This helps me build designs efficiently, collaborate with other designers, and have consistent stylistic elements.

Organize Content

Combing through data is an opportunity to look for patterns. I like to start by listing out the top relevant data points in an excel doc or a list, then filtering and sorting the information. From there I look for what kind of patterns are available in the data. Are there systematic connections that unify all the information? Are there comparative elements that contrast one another? Or is everything tied together by a narrative theme? In this case, we focused on the comparisons of Baby Boomers to Millennials.

Balance the Information

Harmonizing data, story, visuals and sharability is the key to any successful infographic.

  • Make sure the layouts are simple and follow the basic principles of ‘Don’t Make me Think’ by Steve Krug.
  • The story should be easy to read and guide the reader through the ‘what’, ‘so what’, and ‘now what’ of the infographic
  • Assess on the infographic from a birds eye vs worms eye view to confirm the information flows from all angles.

The harmonization of the infographic is often where I like to spend the most time. Its an opportunity to simplify large blocks of content, add detail to visual elements, and see if you are using one of the 7 story archetypes. In this case, we saved the last 30 minutes collaborating in real time on the final infographic.

Looking Back

While this challenge was a few years ago, this project was a helpful way to explore collaboration methods and put our efficiency skills to the test. Most of the time, finished infographics can take days just to explore the data and designing balanced infographics would involve more rounds of edits. Our takeaways as a creative team were about how to build good communications, visualizing complex data on the fly and working in an NYC warehouse way outside of our usual set up. More than anything, it was fun! We had a great time working together and learning about a topic that excites us.

Want to challenge yourself to building an infographic? A great way to get started is to build a chart-icle, an infographic story that visually breaks down an editorial article. Want to compete? Check out the Adobe Creative Jams for 2021! For more information about infographic and data-driven design check out my blog for more insights.

For the full infographic see below:

Lisa Vissichelli

Transforming research deliverables into editorial infographics is my focus. I have lead designers and researchers in understanding design thinking, strategizing innovative design concepts, and shaping brand development in market research firms since 2013. Currently I am the Head of Visual Design at AnswerLab, where we help create experiences people love, Partnering with global brands to bring a human-centered design process to every product they launch. Through my work at AnswerLab, Sachs Insights(Creative Director), MITEF Enterprise Forum, and RelPro, I contributed to many projects across multiple platforms. My infographic work has been showcased in the Information is Beautiful Awards from 2015-2017 and I am the 2017 winner of the Adobe Creative Jam NYC.