Infographics that both inform and entertain

This afternoon, University of Miami professor Albert Cairo, author of The Functional Art,” presented, “An Insightful Art: The Future of News Infographics,” a session about the values all infographics should hold, now and in the future.

Cairo presented five clear principles infographics should follow. Infographics should be:

1) Truthful. Accuracy first. It’s the number one rule for all journalists, including visual journalists. After showing bad examples from WTF Visualizations, Cairo explained that learning research methods can help avoid many of the mistakes his examples made. He suggested the book “Naked Statistics” for those who don’t like math.

2) Functional. Cairo spent much time discussing the functionality of an infographic and how it is the core value to respect. “Should we be creative? Yes, but that comes after you’ve created something understandable,” Cairo said. Designers should think about what graphical form would best represent the info after they consider their audience and the questions their graph should help readers answer.

3) Beautiful. Attractiveness is always essential. He said designer at a conference such as this should already be well aware of how to make an infographic beautiful.

4) Insightful. Infographics should be revealing truths about information that readers would not otherwise see. Cairo also showed examples of how infographics can be beautiful but not insightful. Amy Haneline, visual reporter for the IndyStar, tweeted during the presentation, “Some beautiful infographics are not insightful. They in fact can be frustrating when you can’t actually “read” it. @albertocairo #sndlou.” @AmyBHaneline.

Cairo added, “I’m in love with simple graphics that show they have lots of reporting behind them.”

5) Enlightening. This principle should fall into place after the other four principles have been met. Readers should feel as if their minds have been changed for the better after looking at your infographic.

About Corinne Winthrop

is a student at Colorado State University and a 2013 SNDF travel grant recipient.

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