Long live the Post-It™

by Lily Unsworth

Monday this week consisted of our session with Caroline Beavon, who is a really engaging infographics wiz. Laptops away, we instead had crayons and Post-Its to work with. Caroline gave us some great ideas to help focus your design, along with tools to use, and finished the day with an exercise in design using some mock data.

Here are a few of key points from the day:


  1. Think about your AIM

When designing a visual, think about the point of your message. Keep yourself on track, and make sure whatever you design is in keeping with your message. Do you want an eye-catching billboard to scare people into action?  Are you trying to convince stakeholders with a report? Are you explaining something with a leaflet for the general public? Considering this before you start will help to decide the focus, and the destination of your work will influence the level of detail that you are able to include.

  1. Work out your AUDIENCE

Bear in mind that your audience is not necessarily the same as the person who commissions your work. Working out who your audience is and how they will access your viz will, once again, influence things like level of detail. Someone with a report in front of them will be able to take in much more detail than someone walking past a billboard. You also need to consider your audience’s background – what do they need to know before being able to interpret your work, and keep ensure your message is presented at an accessible numeracy/literacy level.

  1. Sketch!

The interactive part of the day: sketch out your ideas. This can really help to work out what will/won’t work, and allows you to quickly rule out ideas so that they don’t spend the day bouncing round your head and distracting you. Caroline gave us a set of mock data, which we wrote out on Post-It notes. We then grouped these, decided which were going to be carried through to our visualisation, and played around with different orders on a giant piece of paper. By doing this with Post-Its, you can see where it makes sense to place data without spending too long writing and re-writing.

Why I went into DS and not cartography

  1. Start in Black and White

By starting simply, you can make sure you only use colour intentionally. Caroline allowed us one colour each, and then a second should we want it. After initially asking for a second colour, by the time we’d used our first efficiently, it became clear that three colours was all we’d need. It meant that what we wanted to emphasize really popped without an overuse of colour.

The finished product.

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