On 26th January the Brighton Fuse 2 Freelancers report was launched at the Sallis Benny theatre in Brighton.
In October 2014 we were approached by Jonanthan Sapsed, lead researcher on the freelance report to help design the report.
Using our SEED questionnaire we established that there were several audiences for the research including people within the Brighton CDIT cluster itself, academics, policymakers and the press.
Having seen the original Brighton Fuse report we felt strongly that it was full of fascinating data but that the report itself was quite dry and difficult for the layman to engage with. This is something we wanted to address in this second report.
We felt that the correct level of detail for an academic paper could be combined with easier to absorb bite size chunks of information to make it possible for the report to be read in two ways – in detail for the academics and policymakers as well as giving the layman, or press looking for a quick overview, an overarching journey through the key findings via a set of beautiful infographics. We felt that using infographics as the hook for these audiences might entice more to read the full report.
There is plenty of research around, that suggests inclusion of visuals help ‘convince’ audiences as opposed to purely text based information. A study carried out by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co at The University of Minnesota found that use of visual aids in combination with text was 43% more persuasive than text alone.
Visuals are processed by the brain faster than text – which makes inforgraphics perfect for people wishing to skim read the report.
We also knew that the infographics would give some findings of the report more legs on social media as parts could be easily shared and used to promote the findings. In turn we hoped this would generate more ears for the report and more media coverage. As tweets with image links get twice the engagement rate of those without, we prepared ‘tweetable’ graphs from the printed report for this purpose.
The research team continued with their research and we began to develop a style for the graphic elements of the report. Drawing influence from Brighton itself we developed a palette of greens that reference the ‘Brighton green’ paint used on railings and lamp posts throughout the city. Keeping the palette as a tight set of colours in the same part of the colour spectrum enabled us to negotiate a delicate balance between engaging graphics and something that felt too childish. As an academic report we didn’t want to discredit it with something too playful.
While the research team put the finishing touches on the copy for the report the numbers and stats began to emerge and we were provided with folders full of graphs and tables. Together with the team we established what the headline findings were so that we could emphasise the most important facts.
In total we developed 5 infographic pages which each emphasised the key findings from a different chapter. We carefully wireframed and considered the best types of graph / graphic devices to help communicate the findings, beyond just showing raw data we wanted to enhance understanding of the facts, and also create increased engagement with the report by providing a visual hook for people to become interested in the findings, for those that might not normally read it all.
The report was also scattered with simpler charts and graphs that showed the raw results.
Each infographic went through several rounds of amends to make sure the right facts and figures were emphasised and that they accurately represented the data. Care was also taken to keep a co-herant visual style throughout. It is sometimes common with infographics for artistic ambition to override the need for an easy to understand piece and we constantly walked the line between aiding the audience in understanding the data and creating beautiful stand alone graphic pieces that were also beautiful.
The final report, which was presented at the Sallis Benny theatre in Brighton on 26th Jan 2015, where both the content and the design received an overwhelmingly positive response.
If you’d like to read the full report you can download it here.