40_Nate Burgos

Chart a New Course

The mutual-fund revolution is at the heart of the modern economy, and Morningstar is a leading source of data on mutual funds. But that data can be daunting–unless it is presented in easy-to-digest formats. Nate Burgos and his colleagues know how to do the numbers.


Nate Burgos
Design manager, data, Morningstar Inc.
Chicago, Illinois


What is the big idea?
In this time of non-stop data, information design is a major social responsibility. The discipline exists to make sense of content for better communication for shared understanding. At Morningstar, my colleagues and I create solutions for understanding investment data. Data alone is complex and intimidating. Our goal is making the complex clear to the individual investor (you and me), Morningstar’s chief focus. In championing understanding, data is given context and form. We collaborate with strategists, analysts, writers, programmers, marketers, and clients to fully visualize the data. Manifesting clarity must be vox populi in both the process and products.

What was your creative spark?
Working at Morningstar reinforced in me that data untouched does not benefit people’s desire to learn and understand the plethora of content evolving around us. Regarding financial content, my colleagues and I use our skills to design information to enable people’s financial destinies. Envisioning information fascinates me. The world’s visible language is rich with textual and pictorial matter calling for engagement. I majored in graphic design to create messages exploring the power of typography. Information is both fact and fiction, ideas and ruminations. Making these thoughts visibly eloquent and insightful is necessary in this information age.

Why is the idea so compelling?
Information design gives companies a high competitive edge. It contributes to the visible voice of a company: its people, processes and products, inside and out. More than achieving “the look,” information design’s purpose is imbuing data with efficiency, effectiveness, and beauty. In total, these qualities result in an identity resonating with integrity. Responsible visual communication is a necessary business practice in a fast and ever-changing information landscape that can prove volatile at times. Companies that place importance on the quality of their information are the ones that truly care about fellowship with customers. And this tells of social responsibility.

How or why did the idea spread?
Morningstar’s world-class financial database taunts 15 million data points. This is a lot of content and anyone can slap it onto a surface and sell it. Morningstar’s mission is to revolutionize investing. Believing that well-designed documents means good communication is at the core here, that is, innovating investment information for people to make better investment decisions. Caring for well-designed information is a vital value especially now in a time marked by data sprawl. In these information-intensive times, the call for information design to empower people and contribute to the quality of life is as clear as ever.