Visualising Information, a workshop on infographic @Kantea

I had the chance to hold a three day workshop about infographic design titled Visualising Information, Infographic concept design, organised by Kantea in Bolzano for unemployed people (March 24-26th, 2014).

Due to the different field provenience of participants, it has been a hard task to design the workshop programme. Eventually the mix of designers and non-designers who participated gave the possibility to explore different ways of working and designing.
As always, diversity enriches!

We started the workshop exploring the words infographic and storytelling, finding out their literal meaning and their importance in nowadays communication. Then we analysed together the Women’s economic opportunity index project, designed by the agency Jess3 based on a research by (and upon request of) the Economist Intelligence Unit, an infographic project that reached the aim to tell complex information in a very simple way.
After having understood the important criteria that characterise a great infographic project, each student had to analyse an already published magazine double page spread taken from Wired, Il and others international publications. They had to focus mainly on these three points:
- Appeal - What does the page communicate at first impact?
- Comprehension - Is the information easily understandable?
- Retention - Will the reader acquire new easily storable knowledge after reading?
Participants analysis has been accurate and meticulous: they pointed out a lot of critical issues on specific design choices that we discussed collectively.

During a brief lecture about information design principle, titled Infographics, from numbers to visual storytelling, participants learned useful design tips. After that, I explained participants their task: in groups of two or three persons, they had to design a magazine double page spread telling a story using text, images, illustrations and infographics. It was suggested to follow this task list:

  1. Define the topic
  2. Find useful information on the chosen topic (data and text)
  3. Filter information
  4. Establish a content hierarchy
  5. Sketch the double page (multiple solutions)
  6. Define a unique style for the elements in page
  7. Define the full layout
  8. Print

Excited by the task, the fourteen participants formed six group and started thinking about the topic they wanted to communicate. We finally agreed on these topics: Italian emigration, Historical evolution of skirts, Facts of Mexico City, Europe birth rate, Restaurants in Bolzano and USB technology.

Most participants had no design background, so we encountered some difficulties in the use of the software required.

Finally, we printed out our six double pages and discussed together about the layout. Participants were very proud of their projects even though recognising their limits. I believe all of them have acquired new design competences and, most of all, a clear idea of the complexity of an infographic project!