What are you trying to say?

Infographics improve tenfold – or just remain as charts – once people get the hang of the idea that it’s better to commission a graphic when you have a story in mind, something specific you want to say, as opposed to the commission ‘I want an infographic’. The Cabinet Office’s recent chart (featured at the end of this post), and now animation, I fear is a victim of the latter.

Let me try to explain.

If you’re saying “Here is a detailed breakdown of the £5.5bn savings” it would be best presented as a bar chart.

If you’re saying “These are the five areas where we made savings”, group together similar items and present the simplified version as shares of a whole (I’m trying to get close to the original here).

If you’re saying “Over half the savings came from looking at staffing” present it as a pie chart.

If you want to say all three, and more, by all means do. Link them together, use an animation with a voice-over to guide your audience through.

But if all someone says is “I want an infographic” you’ll be presented with the likes of this.

How easily can you find out (questions I imagine it would be useful for this graphic to inform):
What were the biggest and smallest savings?
Whereabouts in government were the savings made?
How much of the savings come from any one area eg staffing?

Commission a story, not a format. You’ll get better results, I promise.