Schweppes Abbey Well is a spring water company, a sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I was originally drawn to this information graphic because of its iconography – my mind works in pictures, so when I see information laid out through icons and symbols rather than complex graphs, I’m immediately partial to it. Along with being visually interesting, I also think that icons and symbols were the appropriate choice for this infographic. All of the data they’re presenting is simple and numerical, requiring only one or two quantitative measures. For example, the statistic “2,000 newts were relocated from the Olympic Park to the Waterwoks nature reserve” wouldn’t make sense in any form of graph – it’s not comparing any two sets of data, nor is it a percentage of a whole, and it’s not a large amount of data that needs to be boiled down and represented in a typical data graphics format. They effectively presented the statistic with a large number and two illustrative newts, giving the viewers exactly the visual and informational cues needed for understanding.
I was also drawn to this information graphic because of its unusual information. When one talks or thinks about data and statistics regarding the Olympics, it’s only normal to bring up comparative speeds between runners, how swimming times have decreased over the span of ten Olympic Games, or the distribution of scores among gymnasts. The data is very time and score oriented, which this information graphic strays from. Personally, I appreciate random facts, statistics, and data that isn’t necessarily important, but is certainly interesting and unbeknownst by most. Gaining insight into how many boxing gloves will be gone through over the course of the 2012 games, how many trees, plants, and bulbs have been planted in the Olympic village compared to the number of seats in its stadium, how much sunscreen will be gone through by Olympic Rowers, and how many trash bins will be emptied over the course of the Games is fun and interesting to me. However, as much as I like the Olympics, I don’t care a great deal about the typical time and score statistics like many who avidly watch might. Therefore, I think someone like me may be their target audience – someone who likes the Olympics enough to look at an information graphic about it, but who is likely more interested in fun, out-of-left-field statistics rather than actual sports data.
The fun, bright and symbolic layout certainly speaks to that sort of person, however I believe they could’ve done a better job of narrative, hierarchy, and codification. Obviously, their color scheme is well thought out. It relates to both the colors of the Schweppes Abbey Well brand, and the colors of the British flag. The four color system is simple, impactful, and meaningful. However, their color codification needs work. There seems to be no real system in place for why certain colors are used where and when they are used. Some of the large numbers are red, some are white, some are light blue, and the same goes for the icons and body copy. It would be helpful for there to be some kind of color system to call out the information that is the most important, or at least help organize the information with our eyes and in our minds. Using certain colors for certain types of information would help with the visual hierarchy as well – the hierarchy is good as it stands, achieved by using bold text and larger point sizes for the important data, but a color codification system would improve it. The last assessment I have for this information graphic is its lack of direction or narrative. As I wrote previously, I certainly appreciate the “fun” and “random” facts that are shown. However, the information graphic may be slightly too random in its layout. Each statistic is compartmentalized, which is helpful, but my eyes still get a little lost. It would be effective to have arrows added, or some kind of pathway along which the data is placed, to help guide viewers through the data in a more narrative fashion.
This example of an information graphic is one I pass nearly every day, yet I’ve never given thought to its design. It details extremely important information – what to do and where to go given the event of a fire, earthquake, crime, or medical emergency. Minimally, I think this information graphic does an good job. It has nice hierarchy and color codification: the important callouts (in case of fire, in case of earthquake, in case of medical emergency, and in case of fire) are in a bright an noticeable red, along with the evacuation location, the viewer’s place on the map, and the emergency number. The important icons denoting the fire alarm pull stations, elevator, and fire extinguisher locations are also in red. The “narrative,” if you could call it that, is good as well. The map is accurate, understandable, simple, and easy to move through, and the motions that need to be taken in case of an emergency are clearly outlined in step-by-step instructions.
However, I think where this information graphic may go wrong is by not accounting for its audience. The sign is fairly small, therefore so is the text and the icons. And in the event of a fire, a medical emergency, an earthquake, or a crime, people are not going to take the time to read step-by-step, small-point-size instructions – that being said, I’m not even sure they’d stop to read a massive, flashing sign. Auditory instructions might be a better way to go, but that also takes time. This information graphic is probably doing all that it can to guide people in an emergency, and although the situation may not be ideal for deciphering a printed sign, it does its job relatively well.
Citations: "Paralympics in Design: The 5 Best Infographics." Creative Bloq. Future Publishing Limited Quay House, 27 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 Jan 2017.