Overcomplicated: When it Comes to Infographics Sometimes Less is More

Infographics are great for providing a visual supplement to data – It adds a level of understanding that cannot be achieved through numbers and text alone. But when conducting research and choosing what information to include it can be difficult to strike a balance between readability and content. So what should designers think to include when creating an infographic.


Circular layouts are often a difficult way to depict data in the way that they often lead to confusion. This example of vacations above is very busy with multiple different data points in addition to another map in the bottom right. There are so many data points for users to consider that it is easy to get lost in the wealth of information and difficult to make any meaningful connections.

qe2spread Again, this graphic tries to include a vast amount of different information that leads to confusion and potentially apathy of users who are overwhelmed by the busy layout.

In hindsight, the author of this infographic believes these two elements capture the essence of the project, comparing the capacity and sizes of historical ships and a map of their maiden voyages.

The less is more approach can be an effective way to grab a reader’s attention and direct their focus towards the essence of what a particular infographic is trying to get across without all the noise and distraction of extraneous elements that in many cases only cause confusion.

Source: http://www.johngrimwade.com/blog/2017/02/23/over-complex/


Instructional Graphics: Focusing on What’s Important

Instruction manuals are commonplace in everyone’s daily life. Unfortunately, not all instruction manuals are created equal and some cause difficulty and confusion. Graphics are an important supplement to any set of instructions, but what are the key components that add strength to a set of instructions?


Simple colours and an exploded view add to a user’s concept of how each individual component fits together.


Translucency allows the user to see inside of a complex carburetor system. Colours indicate fuel, air and exhaust respectively, while arrows provide an understanding of the flow and overall process taking place within.


The black outline of the ski boot show its static form while a translucent green overlay supplemented with an arrow and angle measurement allows the user to understand the design of the boot allowing for flex in both forward and backward directions.

The ability of a graphic to depict how system works is dependant on how well it depicts the key aspects of a system. Use of colour, transparency and direction are key factors to consider when creating an instructional graphic.

Source: https://www.gregmaxson.com/portfolio/

Data Viz: Confusion vs Clarity

The world is full of data. More and more data is becoming visualized through graphics with varying degrees of effectiveness. So how important is it to ensure that a visualization gets the point across?


An example of the confusion that arises from a poorly thought out data visualization. The graph is attempting to show how DUI rates spiked after the departure of Uber/Lyft. Meaningless colours and lack of visual hierarchy cause more confusion than clarity.

download (1)Getting better. This visualization is a simple graph, but it lacks explanation, colour and context.

download (2)

Got it! This example provides clarity through hierarchy provided by colour that emphasizes the spike in rates after the departure of Uber and Lyft.

Source: http://www.storytellingwithdata.com/blog/2017/3/22/so-what

Wayfinding: Consistency is Key

Wayfinding strategies and systems are important for users of any public space to aid them in navigation and create a pleasant experience. To create a good wayfinding experience it is important that designers create a consistent and intuitive system that allows users to understand spaces and navigate them effectively. So how do designers do this?

Here are some examples of effective wayfinding strategies:

East Sydney Early Learning Centre  – Uses consistent typography, icons and distinct colours associated with each space to help users recognize and navigate between spaces.


Eureka Tower Parking Garage – Uses consistent typography and  distinct colours associated with each level and also with anticipated actions that users would want to perform as they navigate the garage. Also anticipates the perspectives from which users will view the directions to create clear pathways.

Moi Helsinki Bar – Uses consistent typography and design across the environment to enhance the users experience and reinforce the brand within the space.

Consistency in wayfinding systems is key to a positive experience within a space. Typography and colour are important factors that allow users to predict, understand effectively navigate their environment.

Infographics: Effective or Distracting?

Infographics are becoming more and more common as methods for communicating data. Along with the explosion of infographics has also come an explosion of difficult to understand and ‘chartjunk’ filled visuals that can create confusion and distract from content. So what should designers avoid when creating infographics?

Here are some examples of what not to do:

sunshine_rating Meaningless colour, repetitive information, unnecessary shapes, 3D confusion.

TJzEbJsBnP-ZHAvLhr5VAnpYhht0foC3lrpZLU1W8cQMeaningless graphics, lacking hierarchy, small text, odd typography and layout.

image01_f_improf_500x323Lacking hierarchy, meaningless colour, lacks legend, difficult to read, lacks connections.

A powerful infographic is not cluttered and allows the viewer to make connections in the data that is being portrayed. The ones above are guilty of creating more confusion than they solve.

Modern Logo Design: Back to the Future

In the digital age we are saturated with abundant information and less time and attention than ever before. Some less effective logos of the are often complex and filled with gradients, colours, type and graphics that will often pass by viewers unnoticed. So how do logo designers ensure that their designs are impactful and able to break through the noise and overload associated with modern living? – By going back through the pages of history  to borrow the design principles from of simple and recognizable shapes, meaningful and contrasting colours and straightforward typography.

Here are some examples of powerful logo design from the past:


Lost Logos from the USSR


1970’s US Government Logos


The Golden Age of Canadian Graphic Design

And some more current examples:

The minimalistic approach creates memorable logos that are effective in capturing the attention of viewers which is arguably the most valuable currency in the logo design world.

White Space: How much is too much?

White space is an essential design principle to consider when creating a document or design. It helps to reduce visual clutter that comes from an overly busy page and keeps designs looking clean. But how does a designer know how much is too much?

Here are some examples of good white space at work:


Business Card – Bravo Store


Pamphlet – Gallerie Voss


Document – Quattro Esposizioni


Signage – Art Gallery


Packaging – The Base Collective

The use of lots of white space creates breathing room for a design to stand out and be impactful. It is often difficult to leave significant portions of a page blank, but adds strength and focuses the eye on the layout of graphics and typography that is remains.