May 19, 2014
In today’s world of instant information access, infographics reign supreme. Everyone seems to want to use them because everyone else seems to already be using them.
But, infographics have been around for much longer than they’ve been the latest fad. When they first started to appear in newspapers and magazines in the 1970s, they were only something that could be created by a team of designers, illustrators and editors using sophisticated and expensive software. As such, they were only created by those who could afford them, were used much more sparingly, and were almost always an interesting addition to an article or report.
Today, the proliferation of easy-to-use, low-cost, and even free, tools has made the creation of infographics available to just about anyone with computer skills.
But that doesn’t mean that just about anyone should create an infographic for just about anything. There are really only two cases where creating an infographic is the way to go.
1) Conveying complicated concepts or ideas. Another way to look at infographics is by thinking of them as ‘explanation graphics’ – their purpose being to explain something in the simplest and most direct way possible. An infographic becomes useful when a message needs to be brought down to a grassroots level or an audience unfamiliar with specific terms, numbers or concepts needs an easy way to understand.
2) Cutting through the chatter. Making a point in a time-sensitive situation can be tricky – especially if others are also pitching to make a point. An infographic cuts through the chatter coming from others and gets to the point quickly, effectively and succinctly.
The problem with infographics being so prevalent today is that they’re often used unnecessarily and communicate something that could be expressed simpler with a picture, basic graphic or text copy.
An infographic needs to engage your audience and tell a story; if your concept can’t manage both, then it’s not the right time or place to create one.
Next month in Part II, we’ll look at five simple tips for creating inspirational infographics.
May 05, 2014
Typography is no doubt an essential part of any website design. Your choice plays an enormous role in your users’ experience with the site. And the right type affects readability, perceived article length, engagement and much, much more.
Your choice adds character to your website. It’s a big part of what makes your site unique. And with the multitude of fonts out there today, in theory, you have an unlimited number of choices when it comes to choosing the right font to convey your company’s flair and personality.
But in reality, you shouldn’t choose from that unlimited list.
Why is that? Because not long ago, there was one web browser that was vastly superior to anything else on the market. And as such, when designing websites, it was assumed that everyone visiting your site was using that browser.
Today however, there are four major browsers that are used by your website visitors. Although similar in function and performance, from a design perspective, they’re different.
And so, there may be an infinite list of fonts to choose from, but if you want your website to look and feel the same for visitors using Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or Safari, then your list is only 16 fonts long.
That’s right. There are currently only 16 fonts (and two of them are actually only for non-alphanumeric type anyway) that are compatible on all four major browsers. With most other fonts, your site will look fantastic on one browser, but awful on another (or at the very least, ‘off’).
And, as we all know, visitors who don’t have a good experience on a website, are not likely to return — regardless of how great the site may look on a different browser. So, for a site that is optimized on all four browsers, your font choices are:
• Andale Mono
• Arial Black
• Book Antiqua
• Comic Sans
• Courier New
• Times New Roman
• Trebuchet MS
Using one of these fonts, and optimizing your site to be compatible with the last two versions of each of the four major browsers means that your site will look exactly the way you want it to for everyone who visits; regardless of what they’re using to get there.