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Clip Art Is Not an Infographic

Posted on December 10, 2015


By: Kim Newcomer, LinkedIn and Twitter

You would be hard pressed to find someone who would describe government as trendy. Skinny jeans and retro-moustaches? Not in this Town Hall! Yet with the rise of infographics and data visualization, government FINALLY has the opportunity to hang with the cool kids.

If there is one thing we have in government, it’s data. And if there is one thing that our government leaders like to do, it is talk about data, specifically how we are data-driven organizations and using performance measures to improve the way we provide services to the public. Data and government go together like…hipsters and PBR.

(By the way, if you read this far already without skipping down to the infographics, I’m impressed)

So you have a story to tell and the data to prove it, but why should you put forth the time and effort to create infographics instead of simply posting pages of text and charts?

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Convinced? Good. Now what?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Find the Right Data. Identify the relevant and compelling data that tells your story, and ignore the rest. Governments are notorious for spraying data at residents like a sprinkler watering lawn: consistent, relentless, droplets of data to cover every nook and cranny of public service. In reality, only certain points of data are truly valuable in communicating your main point.

5Keep the Design Simple. The intention is to clearly and quickly get to the point, not to create intricate illustrations. Crisp, clean, easy to understand – that’s your goal.

No Clip Art. I believe the world would be a better place without clipart. Clipart makes your work look unprofessional. It screams, “I don’t care enough to try any harder than cut and paste!” Please promise me you won’t use it to communicate important information. Please…

It sounds so easy! The reality is that creating solid infographics is skill. I know there are many do-it-yourself online tools that you can use, but the truth is, I don’t recommend it. If you have a graphic designer on staff, enlist their help. If you don’t, hire outside assistance. I know budgets are tight, but I promise the investment will be well worth it!

Here are a few of my favorite infographics:

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