Infographics are everywhere these days. I post some on this blog from time to time. A well-designed infographic can convey a lot of information in a concise package. An infographic that has a poor design is just a poster. Randy Krum is the president of Info Newt, a firm that specializes in data visualization and infographic design. He’s also the author of the blog Cool Infographics and a book of the same name. Randy was kind enough to send me a copy of the book. I devoured the book in two cross-country flights last month.
Business people are the target audience for Cool Infographics, but there are some take-aways from the book that apply to anyone who is thinking about creating an infographic. For example, Randy emphasis the need to identify the one central story that you want to convey with your infographic before you build the infographic. Since his book is targeted to a business audience, I asked Randy what advice he had for teachers interested in having students create infographics.
What advice would you give to teachers, particularly elementary and middle school teachers, who are interested in having students create infographics?
- I would strongly suggest starting with charts. The big three chart styles are important (pie, bar and line charts), but also more advanced charts like arrays, gauges, scales, tree maps, mind maps, word clouds and proportionally sized circles that may require different software, websites or manually creating the visuals.
- Then ask students to redesign an existing infographic. That gives them access to all of the data, but allows them to experiment with new layouts, colors and types of charts that are different than what was used in the original design. Then students should be able to incorporate their own original data visualizations into their own reports, presentations or infographics. I’ve seen successful student assignments that ask students to design persuasive infographics about a specific topic covered in class. This requires the students to attempt to clearly show the data that supports a particular position in an attempt to convince the audience.
Cool Infographics contains a chapter devoted to the concept of using infographics as resumes or biographies:
What advice would you give to high school and or college students that want to create infographic resumes but aren’t sure how to work them into an interview?
- An infographic resume should be used to support a traditional text resume, and focus on the visualizing only the most important information about the student. What makes them stand out as a better candidate than others? Usually, graduating students don’t have much work experience yet, so the visuals should focus on the skills or software applications they have learned that are relevant to the job.
- During an interview, a candidate could offer the separate infographic resume page while saying: “Let me show you a summary of my strongest skills in this easy to read visual.” This tells the interviewer two things about the candidate: they have strong skills and they can concisely summarize a topic. The visual summary will also stand out in their memory compared to a pile of text-only resumes.