This weekend, I was lucky enough to go to the Society for News Design conference. Throughout the weekend there were several speakers. One of them was the editor of the Virginian Pilot, a very visual paper, and he had some great advice.
He started out as a photographer at the paper and worked his way up the ladder. But, when he was still taking pictures, he had an epiphany. He realized he was taking nice pictures, but that wasn’t enough. His advice to designers: STOP designing pages, and start telling stories.
His whole point was that sometimes we do things just because they look good, while ignoring the overall narrative. I guess I’ve heard that advice before, but it still smacked me in the face. So, I tried to find graphics that didn’t or did tell stories well. Here’s a poor example:
This is one of those long, long tower graphics off of Visual.ly. I know these are popular, but I really can’t stand them. To me, they don’t tell a unified narrative — they just present a bunch of unconnected information about a theme. In this case, its all about running. By not telling a story, it seems like a crutch for the graphic artist.
Here, though, is a different example. It uses a combination of Illustrator and Adobe’s after effects program to create motion infographics. Apparently, this is something students are the University of North Carolina are learning to do. This graphic (seen in full at the link) works because it tells a story and presents it in an incredibly engaging way.
After Effects, if you’re interested, seems like it takes a while to learn. It was described at SND as “photoshop in motion.” You upload things you make in illustrator of photoshop and AE adds the motion to them. It then exports as a video. It blew me away when I first saw how it worked. Another example of a motion graphic is this one of Mariano Rivera, from the New York Times.