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Digital Humanities: Infographics & Visualizing Data

Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization

This page outlines the steps involved in the making of an infographic and other data visualization formats.

Data visualization and Infographics are similar but not the same. 

  • Infographics contextualize and interpret data. 
  • Data visualization is automatic and raw data, as you would see in a graph. 

For more, check out this article and discussion thread on Readwrite.com

Pssssst.......hey professor! An infographic can be a great alternative to a research paper!

 

Steps for making an infographic

You will play many roles in the creation of an infographic. 

1. Pick your source materials

  • Emails?
  • Survey responses?
  • Digitized texts?

2. Digitize the data and prepare it for analysis.

3. Analyze materials, if not born digital. (Refer to the section on data analysis and mining

4. Give your source materials focus and purpose. Start with the end in mind. 

  • What question do you want to answer?
  • What story do you want to tell? 
  • What do you what the reader to walk away with? 

5. Choose which kind of infographic best matches your story. There are a handful of common infographic formats:

  • Flowchart
  • Timeline 
  • Photo Infographic 
  • Research-based
  • Versus (pro/con or comparison format)
  • Visualized article
  • Useful bait

6. Select a program to create your infographic, web-based or otherwise. Many web-based programs offer free trials or free limited use. 

 

Or try free hand with these programs

Check out Rey Junco's blog "Social Media in Higher Education". There are many posts about infographics. 

Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching has a great article on visual thinking.

Infographic About Infographics

 

 

There are many infographic formats. Choosing the right one will help expedite its construction and give it a clearer focus.

There are also pros and cons to using different infographics and those depend on what story you want the infographic to tell. 


Visualized Article: Just like it sounds, taking a text heavy  
document and visualizing it. 

Useful Bait: This kind of infographic is more of a pragmatic tool. A good example is an infographic that explains measurements. 

Flowchart: Gives a choose your own path approach to a story

Timeline: Data is visualized chronologically

Versus: Presents 2 opposing ideas

Number Crunching/Number Porn: Just the numbers, ma'am

Photo / Data Visual: Use images from the real world to emphasize a story, focus on the artistic qualities of the story.

Ultimately, form follows function in an infographic. 

Infographic templates remove the stress of having to create a good graphic design and frees you to focus on content. But really, these templates adhere to some basic design principles. These standards and practices improve the graphic and increase visual literacy.

  • Proximity
  • Alignment
  • Repetition
  • Contrast
  • White/empty space

Below are some down and dirty dos and don'ts for graphic design. 

  •  Less is more/clean simple design
  •  Show, don’t tell
  •  Don’t overuse/abuse colors
  •  What icons are familiar?
  •  What colors are meaningful?
  •  Don’t forget about colorblindness.
  •  Don't clutter the space with too much information, too much text
  •  Start with the end in mind, what message do you want them to walk away with?
  •  Start with a whiteboard or paper, sketch out the design first

Some of these web-based programs have free trials that give you access to several templates. It is a great idea to play around with the different tools to see which ones you like, which you prefer. You can test drive before you commit to a purchase. This is just small list.

There is a learning curve and creating the infographics itself even after getting the data you want is time consuming. The templates save a lot of time, but still, plan on several hours to put together a good graphic. 

Or try free hand with these programs

The chart below by Dani Brecher at the Claremont College Consortium compares different tools.  http://libguides.libraries.claremont.edu/content.php?pid=523576&sid=4733368

Piktochart Infogr.am Easel.ly Infoactive Canva Venngage Gliffy
In 5 Words... Drag-and-drop infographic creator Excellent for data-heavy infographics Drag-and-drop for qualitative infographics Chart-based infographic creator Drag-and-drop graphic design (not just infographics) Drag-and-drop, business-oriented Like Vizio, but free/cheap
Design Choices Graphics, 4000+ Icons, Images (including upload your own), Background Color/Texture, Text, Charts, Video, Maps, Moods Charts (>30 types), Maps, Pictures, Videos, Text, Timer Vhemes, Icons, Backgrounds, Shapes, Text, Uploaded Images Data, charts, text, filters Images (free and $), Layouts, Text, Backgrounds, Uploaded Images Pictogram, Chart, Shape, Text, Image, Background Shapes, UML Diagram Components, Systems Analysis Diagram Components
Freemium Cost $39.99/yr for educators; $29/month or $290/year for others (removes watermark, additional design choices) $18/month (password-protect infographics; private sharing; PDF and PNG exports) $3/month, for more images, more fonts, and no ads. $12/month with more icons, but there is also an education discount available. None, you pay for premium stock photos Cost for premium templates; $19/month for premium access (export to PDF or PNG; premium charts and icons; premium themes) 15-day free trial; $3.99/month for academic groups of > 5; otherwise, $3.99/month
Themes 203, including 12 free and a blank theme 8 themes 16, but can also edit other people's work 2 Too many to count 60+, constantly adding more N/A
Export Files JPEG, PNG, PDF (pro only) Only in Pro JPEG, PDF None PDF or PNG PDF or PNG (premium only) JPEG, PNG, SVG
Embeddable? Yes Yes, with Responsive Design Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Import Data Excel and Google Spreadsheets XLS, CSV, or live data (e.g., Google Spreadsheets, JSON array) No CSV or Google Spreadsheets No No Google Spreadsheets or Fusion
Keyboard Controls? Yes N/A Yes No Yes No Yes
Etc. Graphics are search engine-readable. Serious social media integrations. Integrates with visualize.me.

A few more resources to consider:

  • Maps
    • Google Earth: A free user friendly GIS programs
    • QGIS: A free open source GIS program
    • GRASS: A free open source GIS program
    • The WMU Libraries also offers custom mapping services. Please visit the Maps Room Services page to learn more. 
  • Word Clouds
  • Timelines
  • Dipity.com
  • Find more here: http://elearningindustry.com/top-10-free-timeline-creation-tools-for-teachers

Below is a list of eBooks available to WMU students, faculty, and staff. If you are off campus, you will be prompted to enter your Bronco Net ID and password.

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