how to:How to Use InfoGraphics for Advocacy
Advocacy organizations tend to collect a lot of information. They often package this information into detailed written reports. While these reports support policy recommendations and are valuable reference tools, they may not be the most effective way to make an impact within a campaign. Information design uses pictures, symbols, colors, and words to communicate ideas, illustrate information, or express relationships visually.
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Credits: Tactical Technology Collective
What are your goals? Planning or advocacy? Are you trying to tell a specific story? Or are you trying to create a more neutral map to guide a process of discovery? Here are a few examples of different uses of information visualization: 1. Map places and issues of significance can help groups to pinpoint where and how they should focus their efforts. 2. Create diagrams of advocacy targets and constituencies and of their relationships. 3. Chart the flow of information within an organization to reveal bottlenecks and opportunities. 4. Represent a statistic in a visually and/or emotionally striking way. This increases the chances of your engaging a wider base of potential supporters.
Try putting yourself in the role of your audiences. What are they looking for? What is their point of view? What do they already know about the issue? In what context will they read your graphics? Distill this information into profiles of “typical” users.
What information should you collect? Where will you obtain it? Some great sources of data are the World Bank, the International Telecommunications Union, and the UNDP. But don’t forget the importance of context in understanding the meaning and importance of facts. It’s often easier to remember a story than to remember raw data.
Sort your information. One method that you can try is card sorting—an exercise used by designers and information architects to help structure data in groupings that make sense. To start, put notes on a wall describing aspects of your information. Arrange these notes freely into shapes and clusters that make sense. Rearranging these clusters should help you start to form an organizing scheme that you can use as the basis for your initial designs.
Sketch your information out on paper or on a white board. Think in broad strokes at first, saving detail for later. Sketching out your ideas first will help you think outside the confines of the page or the screen. It will free your ideas from the limitations of your design program and tools.
Decide on the format that you will disseminate the visualization in: Paper? Screen? Stickers?
Design your graphics. Innovative design ideas come from embracing your constraints. Being obliged to adjust your graphics to your medium of publication, budget, and technology of reproduction may lead you to discover unexpected opportunities. Here are some tips:
While color can be used to convey additional layers of meaning and emotion, black and white may be more cost-effective and more readable at high contrast. Color also disappears when photocopied or printed in black and white. When designing your graphics, consider using contrasting thicknesses, tints, line styles, or shapes first before considering color.
You don’t have to use all the colors of the rainbow. Instead, choose a limited color scheme that relates to your data. Make sure colors vary in intensity, not just hue—some of your readers may be color-blind.
Use text in a way that makes it readable. Placing text over a patterned background or photograph is a difficult art. Use headlines that draw the readers’ eye and entice them to read more.
Structure: The way information is presented and organized is as important as the content. What information is presented first? How will your reader’s eye move across the design? Structure your design so that the most important information is the most prominent.
Consider using a visual hierarchy to capture the reader’s attention and direct it across the page. Most people start reading at the top of the page and move in the direction their language is read.
Elements: The style of your elements can convey meaning. Objects can be differentiated by size, color, pattern, and placement. However, too many styles may clutter the page. Thin lines are generally preferable to thick lines, which may compete with text and other information.
Computers are great for producing professional-looking graphics, but you don’t necessarily need a computer to create great design. Designing graphics with pen, paper, or collage can be fast and inexpensive.
Free software and open-source tools you can download or use online. [LINK TO RESOURCE CENTER]