Everlane is an online apparel and accessories retailer, founded on the idea of “radical transparency.” They believe that their customers have the right to know what their products cost to make, and they reveal their production process, true costs, and markups along the way. However, the company understands that their customers don’t necessarily want to spend their free time reading long paragraphs of text about what they’re buying – online shopping exists because it’s quick and easy. Therefore, they create minimalistic yet effective infographics to get the pertinent information across to consumers. This infographic is about the production timeline for the classic Everlane backpack. While the design is simple, the narrative layout, iconography, and use of color codification packs quite a punch.
First, the narrative layout: When customers look at this infographic, we know exactly what to do. We see the title first – “Production Timeline: The Everlane Backpack.” Immediately below is a giant “start” checkpoint, and from there on we know to continue down the page (to 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 7 weeks, 9 weeks, 15 weeks, to finish). The total production time, as we see at the bottom of the page, is 16 weeks. Since we don’t get to that information until the very end, the way that the designer made each circle a sort of countdown timer (from an fully black circle at the start to a fully red circle at the end) is extremely effective. While our eyes are still making our way down the timeline, we may not know that the total production time is 16 weeks. However, because the designer highlighted the amount of time it’s been since the start in red, and the amount of time left until the product is finished is kept black, we always have an idea of how far along in the process we are. By using red in this way, we’re clued in to the idea that red means progress – which leads me to the color codification part of this analysis.
As I’ve outlined, the use of red in this infographic means progress – it shows us how far along in the process we are as our eyes move down the illustration. Not only does the designer utilize red in the “countdown timer,” but they also use it for text. Specifically, text that outlines progress: Each number (4 weeks, 6 weeks, etc.) that’s contained within a circle is red, making it glaringly clear how much time has passed since the start. The text that describes what step the bag is currently in is also in red (finding the perfect factory, designing, etc.), along with how long that step will take (4 weeks, 2 weeks, etc.).
What really ties this infographic together, making it both interesting and understandable, is the iconography. The icons are beautiful and simple, just like the overall infographic and the companies’ clothing. However, they’re also powerfully effective – they supplement the text perfectly, giving us a general idea of what stage the backpack is in before we dive into the text (or even without reading the text).
Lastly, the infographic has a good basis of research. It’s coming straight from the company – straight from the source of the bags. All of the information has been gathered firsthand, and is completely reliable and accurate. It’s also curated well towards Everlane’s audience: the company is aware of exactly what their customers want to know, and is sure to clue them in to the pertinent information without oversharing, sharing too little, or sharing irrelevant information.
“Production Timeline: The Everlane Backpack.” Everlane Unedited. Tumblr, 13 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
The below image is from a cookbook I bought a few years ago, titled Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. by Katie Shelly. The book is a typical cookbook in that it’s made up of curated recipes, but it’s extremely atypical in that this is how all of the pages appear. While most cookbooks use large photographs and steps outlined in lists and paragraphs, Picture Cook strays far from this. It doesn’t rely on text instructions or photography, rather the recipes are laid out almost exclusively in illustrations. The use of text is extremely minimal, used only to label ingredients and utensils, or if an illustration needs a bit more explanation. Personally, I believe the infographic recipes within this cookbook are extremely refreshing and effective, and as an example for analysis I’ll focus on the recipe for sweet potato fries.
I am a visual thinker, and for visual thinkers, this kind of infographic recipe is extremely refreshing. It’s simple and charming, boiling the recipe down to only what’s necessary. So, instead of reading through multiple steps and superfluous information, I can look at an illustration and know immediately what I have to do to make the dish. The arrows help guide me through the process, clueing me in to what I need to do first and how to progress from there to a finished product. The illustration style also lends a special physicality to the recipe instructions, which I find helpful – I can see hands mixing, salt shakers pouring, and a watch ticking. Instead of simply reading, “chop the potato this way,” I can see exactly how the potato should be cut, and see in the blink of an eye what comes next. It does a great job at getting the viewer involved with the subject.
One critique I have of this infographic is its use of color. While I appreciate the monochromatic simplicity, I do think that using different colors for emphasis or highlighting important information would be helpful. If the words were a different color than the images, or if an extremely important step was illustrated in a brighter color, I think that would lend to the overall effectiveness of the infographic.
Shelly, Katie. “Sweet Potato Fries.” Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. New York: n.p., 2013. 53. Print.