Category Archives: Infographic

Autism and Vaccines Infographic: Form meets Function

autism_vaccines_infographicThis infographic published on Upworthy  is a great example of form meets function.  It is an advocacy piece that uses great visuals to tell a scientific story that has unfolded over the past 15 years.   There is a lot of information in here:  background on scientific studies, data on vaccine preventable deaths, attitudes about vaccines, debunking of common vaccine myths, and data supporting the decline of infant deaths with the increase in vaccinations worldwide.  With all these pieces, it could be a very dense scientific article, an op-ed, or a policy brief.  Instead, the infographic is designed with strong icons, well selected data points, and clear text.   It reads like a magazine, but with the factual punch of 15 years worth of published scientific papers.  And it’s going viral, which happens to very few scientific papers.

Free design tools: Piktochart & Canva

One of the challenges I’ve seen teams face is not having graphics expertise readily available to assist with final design of a beautiful visualization, particularly when it’s an infographic that requires curating graphs, charts, text and icons together to make a meaningful visual.

Piktochart is a personal favorite for creating infographics from existing templates (see examples below)  or designing with their various frame features (plus, their $40 annual Pro subscription for non-profit users is a steal!).  Their templates can be great inspiration for different ways   layout your data story.


For punchy smaller images and a larger library of icons and photos, I’ve also started trying out Canva, an online design tool (in open Beta) that allows you to create professional-looking graphics and guides t you with various visual best practices as you work.  Giving the striking similarity between Piktochart & Canva, I suspect there may be some connection between the two…

Susan Kistler has a nice summary review of Canva over on TheSmartestOne and there are some notes, features, and examples of a few other web-based design tools ( & in this Infographic Tools Slidedeck.

Have you used any of these free web-based design tools before? Have great examples of what you created, or challenges you ran into in the process? Share in the comments below!

Powerful Viral Infographic Captures Deadly Killer (the lowly mosquito)

Mosquitoes: Deadliest Creatures on Earth
World’s Deadliest Animals: Number of People Killed by Animals per Year

Mosquitos: The Most Deadly Creature on Earth

Did you see this infographic? Something tells me you did.

No less than 5 friends and colleagues pointed this infographic out to me – and all of them understood that the Mosquito was the deadliest animal. They reached out to me because they know that I’m interested in data visualization and that I have a passion for making the world a better place through global public health efforts… but the most striking note for me was that they were all drawn into the story behind the infographic enough to read it and understand it, effectively communicating complex ideas quickly and clearly.


Infographic content first, design next

Today’s post comes from Tiana Tucker from Georgetown University, talking about their deep dive into men’s health to get the content right before starting to do the visual design on an infographic on the topic.

When considering an infographic it is usually a good idea to explore who, what, when, where, why and how questions regarding the selected topic. Who is the target audience, what do they care about, where are they interacting online, why might this audience care about the infographic and how people will find or share the information. This is usually a good tactic to help you discover whether the audience you’re hoping to reach is a good fit with the content you’re producing. It may also help you think through more specific details, so you can dig deep.

The more details and research you can dig up before heading to the design phase the better as it will lend itself to keeping the project on budget and on time. Before deciding to produce our infographic, Spotlight on Men’s Health, Georgetown University’s online nursing program team explored every aspect of the who, what, when, where, why and how questions.


Making infographics 508 compliant

A question that has come up when talking to teams about infographic design is how to make infographics 508 compliant, particularly for recipients of US government funds. Meeting these compliance guidelines means making sure electronic materials accessible to persons with disabilities. Making a complex infographic 508 compliant can be a challenge, but is important to consider as you undertake new data viz projects to make sure everyone can access your data story.
I asked my colleague, Heather Davis, to share her tips for making infographics 508 compliant. She’s provided that expertise on a number of infographics for her project at JSI, and is a great communications resource.  Here are a few tips that she shared.
These instructions apply to working with PDFs.
  1. Make sure that the individual graphics that make up your infographic have been “flattened.” That means that all design elements and layers have been rolled up into one graphic file (JPG, GIF, PNG, etc.). If the graphics are not flat, the tagging process can cause elements to drop off or become corrupted.
  2. Once the graphic areas are “flat,” use Adobe Acrobat Pro to add your tags. Mark each area of text as text and, for graphic images, add as much information as you can into the alt text. You should include the title of each graphic elements, describe what it shows or any trend it demonstrates.
  3. Once all areas have been tagged, make sure that the reading order is correct so that the different areas of the infographic will be read in an order that makes sense.
  4. Add metadata to the properties.
Do you have other suggestions or recommendations from your experiences making infographics 508 compliant? Share in the comments below!

Designing the Women’s Resources Infographic

The recently released “Women’s Lives and Challenges” report from The DHS Program features 3 infographics summarizing the major findings in women’s empowerment, experience with violence, and control.  Each infographic focuses on women in a different part of the world.  All the visuals in the report are available on Pinterest.


Designing these infographics was a challenging process.  We needed to represent women from 3 regions (Latin America, Africa, and Asia), we needed to capture a lot of indicators over time, and we were dealing with very sensitive subject matter, such as domestic violence.

This project really proved that designing infographics takes a team:  the researchers who know the data and always want to accurately represent the numbers; the communicators who know how to pull a simpler story out of hundreds of tables; and designers who find creative ways to illustrate complex themes.

Development of these infographics also reminded us that data visualization for development poses some unique hurdles:  fantastic graphic designers in the U.S. may not have a feel for what homes in Africa look like, or what women in the developing world go shopping for; their visualization would not ring true in many DHS countries.

After several rounds of adjustments, the DHS team is pleased with the outcome.  What do you think? How would you visualize these data?