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How To Make Infographics With Zero Design Skills

Infographics are becoming hugely popular in journalism, but they require designers and programmers to build them. A company called InfoActive wants to change that.

How To Make Infographics With Zero Design Skills
[Image: Flickr user Thomas Leth-Olsen]

Data isn’t sexy, and getting you to think it is takes a lot of work. Infographics–what we call data that’s gone to a graphic designer to get all gussied up for prom night–require a level of expertise and resources to make that aren’t readily available to everyone with a story to tell and content to create. Enter startup InfoActive, which plans to break infographics wide open and make it simple and easy for anyone looking to present their data in a way that’s both visually interesting and interactive.

InfoActive’s beginnings came about through cofounder and CEO Trina Chiasson’s work in data visualizations in newsrooms as a fellow at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Her gambit: that she can construct a robust visualization tool that will not only eliminate weeks of design and development work, but also widen the scope of data visualization by supporting both static and live data.

“People no longer need to just see data–they need to explore it,” says Chiasson. “We’re looking to bridge the gap between companies’ existing technology and the data stories they’re trying to tell.”

InfoActive, then, is a web-based platform that will allow users to connect either static or streaming data and have a customized infographic generated for them, complete with a full suite of analytical tools and supplemental features. It makes use of live data sets uploaded via Google Spreadsheet or CSV with up to 10,000 rows of data to work its magic, with plans to support several other live data APIs and even larger datasets. Users would be able drag and drop charts, text, and maps, as well as filter and search by any parameter in their survey.

If InfoActive works and achieves its funding goal–the company’s Kickstarter has just gone live today–then it would undoubtedly be a boon to its intended market of smaller publications that lack the resources to develop a svelte-looking interactive data visualization. The playing field would be leveled, and the kinds of stories writers and researchers would be able to tell would increase dramatically.

You could even whip up an infographic about it.


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