You've assembled an all-star team of SMEs, writers, editors and proposal managers to start work on your latest proposal effort. Your confidence is running high as you head into your kickoff meeting where you'll craft the strategy, win themes and discriminators that will define your proposal. The time for the kickoff arrives, and your team members are settled into their seats, except you've forgotten to invite one of the key participants who will play a vital role in developing the final product – the graphic artist.
Topics: proposal management, infographic, Information Graphics, Government Proposals, Proposal Graphics, RFP, Problem Solving with Infographics, infographics in business, visual thinking, Information graphics in government, Brainstorming, Kickoff Meeting
Think back to the last project you worked on.
When you started the project, you most likely had a brainstorming session where you came up with as many ideas for the project as you could think of. Big ideas, small ideas and everything in between. At Buzzmachine Studios, we do this very same thing at the start of any infographic project we work on, too.
One of those ideas might work well as an infographic. At the same time, though, you may be thinking including an infographic is something your budget won't allow for. Have no fear, we're here to tell you that making the leap to fit an infographic into your budget is important for turning your next project into something phenomenal.
We've already shared the ROI potential infographics can have because they are the type of material that people want to share with their friends, which in turn increases the real value of them. There is, however, another factor you may not have considered when it comes to ROI and infographics.
We've explained before WHY you should be using information graphics in government or in government proposals, but sometimes it may be hard to wrap your mind around HOW.
Many times, when you work for a government agency, you'r trained to think a certain way, which is understandable because government agencies have their own unique terminologies, methodologies and protocols that must be used and followed. However, efficiency and government decision making often do not go hand in hand. This is where infographics can serve government agencies incredibly well. Graphics can be created to explain new concepts and ideas in any organization, including those with a myriad of rules, language and procedures. The beauty of visual communication is that it speaks to people regardless of the conventions.
One goal we have at Buzzmachine Studios is to educate you on how you can use information graphics in a way that benefits you and the project you're working on. Here are five ways you can use information graphics in government.
- To explain a budget. It's all about the money, and many times, money is the biggest factor to consider. People want to know how money is being spent or how you're planning to spend it. An infographic is perfect for this because numbers can easily be represented with visuals. When it comes to government, generally the numbers being represented are larger than the average person is able to digest, making it even more important to paint a picture (literally) of the spending being discussed.
One great example of this is the annual Death & Taxes information graphic produced by Timeplots, which depicts the U.S. federal government's budget for the fiscal year.
Back in May I ran across an article in the Washington Post decrying PowerPoint and calling for it to be banned. While I can sympathize with the writer's frustration, the problem really isn't with PowerPoint itself.
I wouldn't consider myself a fan of the software. Like most Microsoft software, PowerPoint is bloated and clunky, and it can be a pretty blunt tool at times. But the truth is, if you know what you're doing, it's possible to put together a sophisticated, informative and valuable presentation that furthers people's understanding of your message.
But there's the rub.
You have to know something about not only how to properly use PowerPoint, but also how to give a good presentation and what should be part of a presentation and what shouldn't.
The real problem with PowerPoint lies with the vast majority of people using it, because they don't use the software properly, but more than that, they don't know how to give a compelling and informative presentation.
Infographics aren’t new, but the exposure they've received in the last few years is, and the ways in which they are being used have multiplied. Infographics have become a hot commodity as data, and the desire to examine, understand and utilize it, has become more and more prevalent in business. Infographics work to do all three of these things because they are crafted in a way that content – aka data – can be easily consumed by viewers.
Because infographics can be used to present hard-to-understand information through the use of graphics and text together, they are being shared via social media at record pace. They are likable, shareable content, making lovers of social media love them, too.
Words themselves don’t mean anything when you really think about it. Humans invented words and language to convey ideas.
Our brains start the process with sight and have an innate ability to process visual information involuntarily, well before we learn to read, write, and talk.
As infants, we quickly discern the faces of our parents or caretakers, associating them with love and comfort. New research shows that our brains detect images of snakes more easily than other animals, suggesting that visual ability is an instinct we’re pre-programmed with.
Last week we shared our entire creative process with you and described how in-depth we get when it comes to researching and brainstorming ideas for a project. One thing that goes hand-in-hand with idea generation is the use of sketches in the developmental process.
Being visual thinkers, we're HUGE believers in sketching and doodling to push concepts along, so it's no wonder that sketches also play a big role in our formal process. At Buzzmachine Studios, we have a two-phase sketching process we use. The first is called the "napkin" sketch, and the second we call the "blueprint" sketch.
Let's delve a little more deeply into exactly why we call these sketches what we call them, and also explain how we use these two kinds of sketches in our work. Maybe you'll be inspired to try something similar in your ideation processes too.
Oh, and don't worry if you can't draw. Just wait until you see some of the sketches we do. The point at this stage is to develop great concepts, and not necessarily to produce a masterpiece.
Before we lay pen to paper, we research and brainstorm. Taking the time to do the legwork at the beginning of a project means we aren't jumping hurdles at the end. And like we said before (link back to last week's post once live), once we understand the concept or idea that you are trying to communicate, we can then go about the business of creating something that will effectively communicate the point in an entertaining, engaging and memorable way.
Infographics may have been prime real estate a few years ago, piquing the interest of web surfers worldwide. Heavily shared on social media, infographics quickly gained popularity because they catch people's interest and are visually pleasing. If done right, they also help to explain a complex idea at the same time.
While the popularity of infographics on the web has somewhat plateaued over the last few years, the infographic is certainly not dead. In fact, it's actually a good thing that the furor over them has died down a little. That means there's less noise out there to distract people, and since infographics have been and always will be fantastic tools to communicate a message, they're even more effective. However, there are a few factors to consider when determining the effectiveness of an infographic.
Infoposters vs infographics – we've shared the difference between the two in the past.
Now we're picking apart 11 of the best and worst infographics and infoposters. Some are good, some are bad, and the reasons behind labeling them one way or another are obvious. Take a look and see for yourself...
1. USA Todays’ Manned Mission to Mars process graphic - This graphic does a wonderful job of simplifying a very complicated process. The use of icons and simple lines along with flat shapes representing the planets and sun explain what it would take to send astronauts to Mars in an easy-to-understand and approachable way.
Topics: infographic, Infographics, infoposters, Ted Slampyak, Art of Manliness, The Boston Globe, Charles Apple, Luke Knox, Pan Am, Bill Haas, Best and Worst Infographics, Javier Zarracina, Jay Carr, USA Today, Orange County Register, Dan Zettwoch, Alberto Cuadra, Houston Chronicle, Times of Oman, Scott Brown
One secret, three words.
Audience centered design.
So what is it, you ask? Pretty simple, and exactly like it sounds. Audience centered design is when you stop thinking about yourself when it comes to a presentation, infographic, or ad (or anything else you can imagine), and start thinking about who you are talking to. It's no longer about your needs, but their needs.
When using an infographic, you are most likely trying to explain a complex subject to someone. An infographic is a visually appealing, informative way to share about a broad range of topics. Infographics are innovative and allow people to read information in a fun, quick and engaging way. Topics that may have otherwise been boring or complicated to understand are now presented in a visually stimulating manner and spark interest early on.