Playing with Infographics

I selected option 2: Data visualisation for this week’s play and reflect activities.

I had a vague idea in my mind that an infographic was simply a graphical representation of data like a bar graph or a pie chart, so I thought this task would be a piece of cake.  I didn’t understand that an infographic told a whole story of data.  I didn’t understand that this would be a time consuming and difficult task.  Nevertheless, with the optimism of the ignorant, I watched Kate Davis’ DIY Infographics video (which was very helpful), looked at some data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey 2014-2015, and began.

I was very impressed by the ABS summary video of the survey results, which includes animated data visualisations of a very high standard.  It’s a short video, and definitely worth clicking the link.  It clearly represented a summary of the findings obtained from the survey, and communicated it to me, the viewer, in a way I found very easy to understand.  Much easier than going through the Excel spreadsheets I downloaded from the website, which contained the survey data, and lovely statistical terms such as “relative standard error of proportion”.

I used Piktochart to make the very basic infographic below.  Kate Davis recommended Piktochart as one of the easiest Infographic Makers to use.  I would also like to give Canva a go, as it looked good, too.  Kate also recommended Infogr.am, Visme and easel.ly.

I found this activity really difficult at first, but was slowly getting the hang of it by the end.  There are some things I didn’t work out, but I was working on a windows 7 tablet with a touchscreen, a keyboard, and no mouse.  (I’m away from home tonight for work, in a tiny motel room, eating Smith’s chips for dinner, doing my homework and can’t believe I forgot my mouse! I miss being able to point and click!) I think this made operating some of the program’s functions a bit more difficult. (That’s what I was telling myself anyway).

I was very happy when I worked out how to do the graphs…in fact, I was very happy when I worked out how to do anything on the program!  Although my infographic is not perfect, I am happy with the result, because it represents several hours of hard work and frustration, and a learning process like that is always satisfying when you have a finished product at the end.

I think I would become a more competent user of the programs, and produce better looking infographics with more practice and familiarity with the tools, and a clearer purpose for visualising the data.  I did find it a bit difficult to choose the data to analyse.

This activity has definitely piqued my interest in using infographics to represent data.  My powerpoint presentations could be so much more interesting!

I would definitely use one of these programs in the future to create a poster or infographic…I only wish I had watched Kate’s video before I completed my persona poster!

National Health Survey Infographic: Weight and Exercise

National Health Survey Infographic: Weight and Exercise

So, yes, I think that infographics are definitely a wonderful way to visually represent a data story … as long as you have vision, and intact learning abilities.  A comment from Kathleen prompted me to think about accessibility of infographics on the internet for people with disabilities; particularly those who are blind /visually impaired, and those with learning disabilities.

There are a couple of things to address: access to a device (input), and access to the content of the webpage (output).

I found this website, Web Usability, that discusses how people with disabilities use assistive technologies to access computers / devices and the internet.  Most work has been done to improve accessibility for people with physical and visual impairments, but a lot of work is still required.

There are a lot of issues. Not only does the person need to be able to access the device with an input device (e.g. alternative keyboard, switch, head pointer, eye-tracking, voice recognition), but the website needs to be accessible, too, to output the information to the person with a disability in a way they can access it; e.g. through screen-reading software for someone who is blind / visually impaired.  A lot of work exists for website designers to think about how to make their website compatible with screen-reading software, and how to include alternative text for images / infographics, otherwise, your beautiful infographic is simply an empty space on the webpage.  This Gizmodo blog post discusses some of the issues of designing spoken websites.

I think that there is still a very long way to go to make the internet accessible for many people with intellectual disabilities.   Generally speaking, the internet is a very wordy and confusing place, which effectively excludes many people with intellectual disabilities, as they may have difficulties with literacy, language (especially abstract language), conceptual development, attention, memory and learning.   The task of understanding an infographic on a webpage may be conceptually too difficult for the person with an intellectual disability, particularly if it represents abstract concepts that are not meaningful for the person.

But see this Spectronics blog post for how iPads are being used with students with intellectual disabilities.  Touchscreens may help a person with an intellectual disability interact with computers / apps, because the person can directly touch what they see and  make the link between something happening on the screen as a result of that touch.  This article talks more about suitable apps to use, rather than assisting the person to access the internet, though.

I could see the possibility that web browsers could be modified / developed to have picture symbols representing favourite websites or search functions, that speak when touched to let the person know what they are, and then used in combination with a touch screen device to enhance internet access for people with intellectual disabilites….

Hang on a minute – doesn’t the Google search page already look like that if you are signed into Chrome?  See my screen shot below, that has all my most used websites right there, waiting for me to select them.  With a few more tweaks, something like this could really work for people with intellectual disabilities (and probably is being used as we speak – I can’t be the first person to have thought of this).  Maybe people with intellectual disabilities aren’t as far away from accessing the internet as I thought. 🙂

Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.

Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. Jade Chopping · April 21, 2016

    I really like your infographic on weight and exercise in Australia. Such an important topic to educate people on. I just watched Kate Davis’ DIY Infrographic video too and wished I had seen it prior to starting my persona poster as well. I like ABS video you shared also, really entertaining way to display important info. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • Michele Smith · April 22, 2016

      Thanks, Jade. I agree it is an important health issue right now. I just checked out your post, and thought your McDonald’s facts infographic looks great! Although I wonder if McDonald’s is part of the reason so many Australians are overweight… 🙂

      Like

  2. Deborah Fuller · April 21, 2016

    I am very impressed by your poster Michele, especially due to your tech problems whilst doing it. I know where you are coming from with the mouse. My mousepad sometimes decides it needs a rest for a few days, so I have to resort to touch screen. I will definitely be watching Kate’s infographics video later (too late for my persona poster). I love her instruction videos, she teaches tech stuff in a way I can understand. I followed her step by step guide to setting up a WordPress e-portfolio and am very impressed by how straightforward it was (link on IFN620 site) I reckon your poster wouldn’t be out of place in a GP’s waiting room.

    Like

    • Michele Smith · April 22, 2016

      Thanks so much for empathising with my tech issues, Deb! I will have to check out Kate’s guide about the WordPress e-portfolio. I did IFN620 last year, and they promoted using the QUT platform for our e-portfolios. Have you set up your professional e-portfolio in WordPress?

      Like

      • Deborah Fuller · April 23, 2016

        Hi Michele, I have started my portfolio on WordPress and it was very easy following Kate’s step by step guide. I just have a few pages at the moment, but I don’t think I’ll have any problems expending it. Kate is so good at explaining things to non-techies like me. Well worth a watch.

        Like

  3. kathleen · April 22, 2016

    Chiming in to say that I agree, this is a great poster. It can be an easier way to present data, as is the video that you talk about that the ABS has created. There are a lot of people that don’t like infographics however, as they aren’t easily accessible by people with visual or learning issues. On websites when you put up an image you can tag it so that if users can’t see it they can read a short tag that describes it, however this is hard to do with an infographic. While they are really useful, the equity issues are food for thought as well.

    Like

  4. Fabio Blonda · April 23, 2016

    Hi Michele,
    your infografics is brilliant! I also think the information included in it where important and the way you used charts made everything clearly comprehensible from everyone in a really short time. I’ve been playing with some infrografics aswell and I have to say that I agree with you when you say that this is a time consuming activity, I was surprise to see that it took me almost a week to do everything! But still this is a communication link to mony people, that can be used to easly spread essential messages, so every minute is well spent on it 🙂
    Cheers.

    Like

    • Michele Smith · April 24, 2016

      Thanks for your positive feedback, Fabio! Although I went and had a look at the infographic you created in Infogr.am, and was completely blown away! It looks terrific, and has such interesting representations of the data! What do you call those distributions with all the little people in them?

      Like

  5. Joseph Curro · April 29, 2016

    Excellent post Michele. Piktochart does seem to be the main graphics site a lot of news websites are using. Especially when they are commenting on ‘murders per state in the US’, or ‘obesity per state’, you’ll see those infographics used and were most likely designed in Piktochart.

    The problem is, when designing them, you can get a bit carried away looking for the right icon, and it can be very time consuming! But if the end result is the reader has learned something straight away by the hours spent on creating the graphic, then it has achieved its end purpose.

    It’s great to see you spoke about accessibility – working in government roles, every image, table and graphic has to have a long text description in the background. It isn’t always achieved, but ‘audits’ every now and then happen which rate the government department on their accessibility. It’s easy to forget, a slick image/infographic has no use for a vision impaired person, and must be described.

    I guess that’s why so many government sites are so text heavy and lack that visual flair. 😉

    Thanks again for the excellent post. 🙂

    Like

    • Michele Smith · May 10, 2016

      Thanks for your comments, Joseph. I agree with the time-consuming aspect of designing infographics! And thanks for commenting on the accessibility aspects. I edited my post to reflect on accessibility after Kathleen commented on accessibility. I work with people with disabilities, so it is something that I should be conscious of. I have recently been working with a young man with severe cerebral palsy who is nonverbal, has poor vision, does not have literacy, and is unable to physically access a keyboard to access a computer or the internet. We have been able to get him a speech-generating device http://www.tobiidynavox.com/meet-t15/, which he accesses using a switch. The device is set up to scan through and read the messages on his device, and he selects the message he wants by hitting the switch with his head when it reaches his selection. We have been able to build in message keys which allow him to access Facebook and YouTube on his device; however, once outside his communication software, the scanning doesn’t work anymore, and he still needs someone to scroll through his Facebook feed and read it aloud to him, or type in YouTube searches for him. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do right now. I would like to work on switch scanning access to the computer for him in the future, which would allow him to be more independent on the internet. Assistive technology is developing all the time, and I expect that more and more will be possible in the future!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s