Today I learnt the importance of good design

I remember thirty years ago, I purchased my first PC while I was studying Engineering at Uni. The first program I discovered was one of the drawing programs, I remember staying up until 3 in the morning for weeks just playing with it.

Yesterday, as part of my Uni course, I had to learn to use Adobe Illustrator to create infographics, I jumped down that rabbit hole again.It made me reflect on my decisions over the years, I kind of wish I dropped out of Engineering way back then and switched to Graphic Design, but I guess it’s never too late right?

Our challenge

Make these graphs visually appealing and easy to interpret.

After spending the entire day learning Illustrator I dragged myself of the computer late last night feeling quite accomplished. It made me realise how much I enjoy drawing things and creating images. It also made me realise how design can communicate so effectively. The above data pretty much invokes nothing from any one who would look at it.

My finished products

 As soon as you look at my version of the above graphs. immediately you can understand what the data is telling you. The designs also include visual rhetoric, visual hierarchy and other important elements of graphic design.

Design 1

Data Presentation Decision

After I imported the data in Illustrator, what struck me about the data is that is was quite boring.

However after close inspection I realised we have pretty nice weather, that was interesting, so my aim was to try and convey that point.

To infer that from a bar chart takes some cognitive processes, I simple pie chart would be a much better way to show this information quickly.

So I decided to include a bar chart at the top of the visual hierarchy, and use the bar chart as a secondary focus.

To further highlight the data I thought was important I gave the data for the cold weather a cold blue colour, I chose the background to be a similar colour to make sure these bars were ‘lost’. In contrast, high contrast I selected a complimentary colour for the nice months and used this colour sparingly in the infographic.

Design Process

I spent about three hours fiddling with slider graph design, it is a little bit strange how it works, due to the fact it scales the graphic. In the end I was very pleased with the graphic.

In the initial design I had the title Adelaide below the dominant pie chart, how ever after watching the recommended video on dynamic design I made more ‘movement’ but moving this to the top.

Design 2

Data Presentation Decision

After importing the data into Illustrator it struck me how meaningless it seemed. After trying several graph styles I was still not getting anything visually interesting happening. I then decided to look at three graphs, and to display them on a map of Australia. Once I did this all of a sudden the data looked interesting and easy to understand. I have to say I was slightly chuffed with myself.

Design

During the creating of infographic 1, I was introduced to the concept of graphic libraries and appearance libraries. I simply created a one dimensional map of Australia and then used the 3D to to extract and rotate one state. I then saved that state to the graphic palette and applied it to each state. I needed to experiment with bezel height as a ratio of the percentage to gain a decent looking graph. To then add further clarity I added different colours, subtle to strong to hight the high values. The design worked well as three graphs in 1 row. So I kept the design very simple because the 3 graphs needed to stand out and further graphics just made the design less successful.

What I learnt

Humans make decisions very quickly and very instinctively. Good graphic design allows a designer direct the viewer in a way that makes them understand a message very quickly. Subtle things like visual rhetoric help create an even stronger emotional response.

If you present your business in an unprofessional manner, viewers will form an impression and it will be almost impossible to change that perception.

Good graphic design creates an opportunity to pursuade and influence.