The Basics of an Engaging Report

According to science, humans have the attention span of… oh look! A Pokémon!

Where was I? Ah yes, that’s right. Scientists now say we have a shorter attention span than goldfish at just eight seconds. Eight seconds! No wonder we find long winded, complicated documents like reports duller than dishwater.

Because 83% of learning occurs visually we need to rethink how we do reports. It’s no good sticking some statistics on a page. We need to be able to visualise them. Apart from creating engaging infographics, there are some simple things you can do to transform your report into something people actually want to read:


Create a structure that flows. It seems obvious but I’ve seen a lot of reports where graphs and copy are all over the place, with no logic to it. While your company’s annual report might be a little bit less exciting than your favourite novel, it needs to read like a story. It needs a beginning, a middle and an end, with all the information put across in a logical manner.


The right icons at the right time can play a huge part in information retention. Words are processed by short-term memory, whereas images are processed by long-term memory. Visual retention is much higher, so make use of this –  if something matters, make it memorable!

Colour & Typography

Highlighting key information through well-chosen colour changes and typography variations also help with information retention – and it’ll make your report much nicer to look at. Using colour and typography effectively also lets the reader know what to read first, what’s important and makes everything much clearer.

So even if you do get distracted by Pokémon every eight seconds, you can still learn how to use the principles of good design to your advantage and make reports more engaging and less of a snooze-fest.

How To Design The Perfect Investment Pitch

Fact: any pitch can be scary. But there’s something about investment pitches that make them the he-who-must-not-be-named of the presentation world.

Not only is it because there’s so much at stake, but also an investment presentation is so hard to get right. Investment pitches are all about numbers, data and statistics. And nothing’s harder to visualise than numbers, data and statistics.

That’s because humans are visually wired. We react to pictures not numbers. So when it comes to convincing people of your business’ worth through facts and figures, we have a problem. But fear not. This is where design can save your skin.

Designing a good investment pitch is about making sense of the numbers for the client and presenting it all in an easy, digestible way. This is called designing data and it’s crucial for the success of your pitch. Presenters using visual aids are twice as likely to be more persuasive than those just using text. So instead of having a slide full of numbers, try turning those stats into an infographic or data visualisation.

As well as presenting your data in a way your audience can understand, there are a few simple things you can do to make your design stand out.

Make two versions

Create two versions of your pitch. One that you’ll present live and one that you’ll send out via email. In a live presentation slides punctuate what the speaker is saying, whilst on an email, slides are all the audience has. Design a more detailed email presentation with all the information you want to investors to know, then strip it back to the bare bones when you’re ready to present live.

Brand everything

Make sure every slide is branded. You’ll look prepared and professional. Your story is also a big part of your brand. Investors want to know about you and your company. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Tell a great story about how you got started and get some great visuals to go with it.

Lose the spreadsheets

The balance pages at the end of an email presentation are pretty much a necessity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make them easier to read. Instead of plastering a bunch of numbers that look like an excel spreadsheet on a slide, spend some time making it easier on the eye. Those numbers are mightily important, so give them a visual twist and they’ll have an even larger impact.

Yes investment pitches are hard, but when you know you have a well designed presentation working for you, they suddenly become a lot less scary.

If you need a investment pitch presentation designed for you, give us a shout!

How To Create The Perfect Company Profile

Company profiles are a huge part of branding. Like your logo, they’re something that takes a lot of time and effort to get right. And getting them right is important because they’re not something you create every month. It needs to go the distance with only occasional tweaks and updates.

But they can easily go horribly, horribly wrong.

The biggest mistake people make is making them too long. No-one, not even your mother, would enjoy 30 pages of drivel, detailing in complicated, jargon-filled language exactly how your company relocated to a space more conducive to collaborative communication (aka moved office). Company profiles are a great opportunity to wow people with your achievements. That’s why it’s important to get it designed properly.

At we can spend anything from 40-100 hours creating one company profile. And the time (and money) spent is worth every penny. If you’re designing your own here are some key guidelines to go by:

Keep it simple

When we’re bombarded with information every minute of our lives simplicity is a breath of fresh air. Nobody has time to read a book about your company, so don’t make them. We design one-page infographic style company profiles that can be attached to any proposal you send to clients, making it much more likely it will actually be read.

Know who you are

If you can’t describe who you are and what you do in one sentence you need to have a serious brainstorm. Readers react to snappy, to-the-point sentences. No other sentence in your company profile is more important than this one, so get it right.

Stick to the essentials (and the interesting)

Lose the fluff. Stick to the bare essentials. This means your USP, core services, key facts about your business and contact details. But don’t ignore things that will make you seem a bit interesting. Throw in any important or impressive awards or achievements.

If you want your profile to really stand out, trust the experts (that’s us). Get in touch to see if we could create a simple, effective and beautiful company profile for your business.

Make Your Next Presentation as Good as a TED talk

Giving a presentation is hard. Everyone knows this. But it’s because of this that TED talks are so popular. It’s refreshing to see (and for us to have worked with) TED speakers who actually know how to give a presentation and who put effort into every aspect of it, including their visuals. After watching so many TED talks, I struggle to sit through anything else.

And the way they do it isn’t rocket science. Like a lot of things, it’s a formula we can all duplicate.

TED speakers:

  • Never read from a script
  • Grab the listener’s attention
  • Tell great stories
  • Keep it short (under 15 minutes for the more recent talks)
  • Use great visuals
  • Aren’t afraid to break the mold
  • Speak plainly
  • Don’t let their slides lead the presentation

But perhaps the most important thing they do is think. They take the time to think about what they are presenting and how best to present that idea. Even though TED speakers can often sound quite similar, if you look at them more closely, they’re all quite different.  

We’ve been working with TED speakers to create visuals for their talks for a while now. One of the first things we do when working with a speaker is find out the goal of the talk. Do they want to convince someone of something? Do they want to share their findings? Or do they just want to tell a personal story? The answer to these questions determines the kind of visuals we create for them. And you can do the same too.

Work out what kind of presentation you’re giving and tailor your visuals around that.


Pitching something is basically making an argument. You’re making a case for yourself and your company. When you’re doing this you need go through things in a logical way, so your talk needs to be more structured. The slides will also probably be branded. You’ll need a mix of graphics, images, quotes and anything that can back up your argument.

It might not be a business pitch but there are a lot things we can take away from this talk from Mark Modesti about how to convince your audience.

Sharing something

Sometimes you don’t need to convince your audience of anything, you just want to share recent findings or discoveries. A lot of talks at conferences fall into this bracket. It’s less about convincing, and more about sharing. The information they present can be complicated so you really need to think about how to present it in a way your audience can understand.

We worked on this TED talk with Douglas Beal. As the talk was driven by lots of data and research we opted for a mix of animated and static charts and graphics.

Personal talks

When you have a great story to tell you might not even need visuals. Your words might be enough. Photos can be a great touch when used properly. In this talk by Kelly Lepley she includes personal photos which work really well with the very personal story she tells.

Whatever kind of presentation you’re making, make sure to keep it simple, keep it clear and keep it engaging. That way it doesn’t have to be as hard as you first thought.

If you’d like help putting together a presentation that’ll knock the socks off your audience, get in touch. Contact us via our website or tweet us @infographicly_.

Are You Giving the Right Presentation? You Might Need Two Versions...

slides-01cat-697113_1280… confused yet? These slides don’t make sense on their own, and they shouldn’t. They’re not meant to be read, they are meant to punctuate what I’m saying during a presentation live in the flesh.

But since I’m not talking to you live and you’re reading this on a screen I need to be more precise.

One of the biggest mistakes people make with presentations is not realising that listening to a presentation and reading a presentation are two very different things. Too often people email presentation slides to investors, clients and all sorts of people they want to impress that don’t make sense because they’re designed to be presented live to an audience. The slides are minimal, as they should be for a good live presentation, and don’t tell the reader anything.

The opposite is also true. A lot of live presenters clutter their slides with too much information. The audience spends their time reading the slides and not listening to what the speaker has to say. They might as well not be there. (The slides, not the audience… although they may get bored of reading and leave).

That’s why we need two different types of presentations for the two different scenarios. Here are the basics:

Live Presentations

For live presentations less is definitely more. Slides are there to punctuate what you’re saying, not distract from it. Treat them like a backdrop. The moment they distract you or the audience from what you’re saying, they’re no longer efficient.

They need to add value, without taking anything away from what you’re saying. They should be attention grabbing, but not so distracting that nobody listens to you. In short, they need to partner up with whatever you’re saying.

Email Presentations

Normally you’re emailing a presentation to someone who knows little about your business or what you’re going to say. So they have to be able to understand what you send them. This means slides need to be more thorough. Stick to the one point or theme per slide rule to avoid overcrowding them. Quality over quantity. But… with a bit of quantity as well.

It’s always better to have more slides that are less cluttered than a few slides with too much information on them. Don’t be afraid to send a presentation with 50, 60, 100 slides if it means that your audience will only spend a few seconds on each slide versus a shorter deck where each slide takes at least 2 minutes to digest and make sense of. 

We’ve designed presentations for people all over the world, including TED speakers. If you think we could help you give us a shout.

Why You Should Trust Your Designer

For something with only five letters, trust is a big word. It can make or break any relationship, including one between a designer and client.

But building trust can be difficult when you both have completely different ideas about what makes “good” design. Or if you have different ideas of what colours work for your brand. All these issues can be solved though. The key to a project running smoothly is being able to trust your designer’s judgement. Here’s why you should:

They know what they’re doing

A lot of the time designers are asked to do things people wouldn’t ask of any other professional in their field. You wouldn’t wake up after surgery and ask your doctor to move the stitches to the left a bit. Or ask your window cleaner if they can clean your phone too. That would be ridiculous.

Trust that your designer knows what they are doing – you’re paying for their expertise, the years they’ve trained, the industry knowledge they have. So make the most of your money and trust what you’re paying for.

They want your ideas and feedback

Designers want input from their clients, otherwise they might not know where to start or they won’t get the feel of your brand right.

What designers don’t want is a lot of input at a later stage when most of the work has already been done (or so the designer thought). That’s when problems arise.

Before you meet with a designer really think about what you want. Go in with everything you can think of in the first or second meeting. There’s nothing more frustrating for a designer than to have ideas and specifications given to them halfway through a project when they could have been given at the start. Make both your lives easier and communicate your ideas as clearly and as early as you can.

They want to help you

Designers design because they love what they do. But their main goal is to help you. They want to create something you both love and will bring your business success.

It’s not all selfless though, if you’re happy with the work and it’s helping your business, designers want to be able to boast about that. They want a long lasting relationship with you, and for you to recommend them. So it’s in their interest to do the best job they can for you.

Think you could trust us to design a report, presentation or infographic for you? Get in touch  via our website or on Twitter @infographicly_

Why Infographics are The Future of Education

What if I told you that data visualization isn’t just about visualizing data?

I bet that got your attention.

Data visualizations and infographics do way more than just show data, they tell stories, bust myths and even teach us how to make pumpkin pie lattes. The list, much like the apparent uses for pumpkin, is endless.

In short: data visualization and infographics are phenomenal educational tools.

Teachers and students are looking for innovative ways to learn. Take the popular Facebook page AJ+, they put out short videos every day educating people about things going on in the world. And people love it. It’s quick, easy and exactly what tech-savvy teens want.

Because of online learning, education doesn’t always mean school. As the modern classroom changes, people are swapping chalkboards and tiny desks, for iPads and the comfort of their sofa. 96% of US universities offer at least one online learning class and 95% percent of teachers believe online tools engage students.

The next generation of students will learn from a mixture of game-based and mobile learning, with infographics a common tool to explain complex events and theories. While most people see data visualization and infographics as solely marketing tools, they are actually tools for change.

I truly believe that, as Nelson Mandela famously said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Everyone should be able to access information in an easy way, and in a way that suits them, because the more informed people are, the better they understand things, and the world we live in becomes a better place.

That’s why data visualization is much, much more than visualizing data. It’s a truly modern way to educate.

The Value of Getting Your Branding Right

There’s a reason Apple is worth $733 billionGood branding. In business your brand identity is everything. Your logo, brand story and tone of voice are the first things potential customers see, so obviously they have to be great. And to get it all right, you need to be willing to spend time and money - we know that, because we spent the last year working on our brand uplift which was launched just a few weeks ago.

Anyone can knock up a new logo design but the real value is in strategic design.

Apple is successful because they know that their customers aren’t just buying a phone, tablet or computer, they’re buying an experience. Specifically, the expected ‘Apple experience’. They completely reinvented what a shop is by creating a white canvas and interacting with ‘geniuses’ (or ‘genii’ if that floats your grammatical boat) instead of shop assistants. If you go into any Apple Store in the world, you know what you’re going to get. There’s a level of consistency that’s almost comforting.

It’s that comfort, the relationship between customer and brand, that’s key. Why else would we spend $600+ on a phone that can potentially bend when you breathe on it and has about two minutes of battery life if you use it as an actual phone?

What this shows is that people do know branding works, even if they don’t always realise they know. So, it’s vital to get your branding and your strategic design right from the start.

Design is seriously underestimated. Some people are guilty of thinking that you can copy and paste a few things without much thought, and job done! They don’t invest any time into it, and they end up with terrible design which damages their brand identity.

Good design is an investment. And a hugely worthwhile one. 

Research from the Design Council has shown that on average, for every £1 businesses invest in design, they get over £20 net turnover. Thats one hell of an ROI.

But investing time and money on design doesn’t just mean forking out for a new logo. Everything from infographics to reports, proposals and emails all need to fit with your brand. That’s why it’s not enough to release a report you made on Microsoft Word, or a presentation you slapped together in an afternoon. Everything needs to be consistent and match what you stand for. Good branding requires good design, and good design requires a good strategy.

You’ve invested the time into reading this, now invest some more into strategic design. It’s probably the best investment you’ll make this year.

How To Use Iconography Effectively In Design

Design is a minefield. It’s difficult to design something well, and far too easy to design something badly. There’s nothing more deadly than playing around with iconography.

Luckily just knowing the basics of how to use iconography in design will turn your project from amateur to semi-professional in one quick click of the mouse.

So what are these design rules? I’ve gone through the basic dos and don’ts of design before, this time I’ll walk you through three simple rules for using icons, illustration and photography in any type of design you do.

First off...

Use simple icons
Icons are there to explain something so you don’t have to explain it with words. Because of this, whatever icons, shapes or illustrations you use need to be easy to understand. What they’re showing needs to be obvious and people need to be sure what the icon means.

The simple test: take a section where you’re using both an icon and words, then take the words away. Can you get an idea of what the section is about with only the icon? If no, you need to rethink the icon you’re using. If yes, you’re good to go!

Stick to one style
Any icons, fonts, pictures or illustrations need to match the tone and subject matter of your project. You wouldn’t put a picture of Mickey Mouse on a monthly financial report (or would you? Please say no).

On top of this, the icons you do pick also need to match. It’s best to download a set of icons, that way you know they match and you won’t end up with something a little mis-matched like this:

Don’t use stock images
The trouble with stock images is that they look like stock images. Be creative! Choose illustrations, graphics or simple icons instead. If you’re totally set on using photos, choose carefully. Maybe even try niche sites that provide better quality free-to-use images that look fantastic.

Remember though that good design is worth paying for. If you want professional looking icons it’s worth paying a little extra for a matching set that will make your presentation, report or infographic look great. Or even better, hire the professionals to do it for you and really stand out from the crowd.

Do you have any more iconography design tips? Tweet us!

How to Design For a Global Audience

My job is awesome. I work with all different kinds of people from all over the world every single day. But, naturally, this global working environment brings its challenges. And when you’re designing infographics for someone in a country you don’t know much about, it can be a minefield.

While basic design principles can be applied to any country and any context in the world, things like diversity and cultural differences shouldn't be overlooked. Here are the rules I follow to keep our data visualization designs relevant:

Don’t whitewash
when it’s ingrained in us that the standard depiction of a human being is a white man it can be hard to get rid of. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about diversity in your designs, but when you remember, your work is so much more effective (not to mention way more accurate).

Many of the clients we work with are based in the UAE. With all the different religions, races and ethnicities in the country, showing lots of white men in suits just doesn’t cut it here.

Be culturally sensitive
when you’re working in the culture you grew up in knowing what flies and what doesn’t is easy. When you’re working for an audience from a culture you don’t know as well, designs need a lot of thought.

I learnt how important this was while I was giving a conference in Kuwait. While I didn’t bat an eyelid, I found out pretty swiftly that this infographic showing the effects of smoking on the human body wouldn’t go down well with my audience because of the nudity. Invest time in really thinking about your audience and you’ll avoid offending them!

Understand your demographic
As a designer you never want to create something that won’t appeal to your audience. It has to conform to the person’s way of understanding and their life. You have to go beyond the audience’s age, gender, nationality, etc, and understand and represent their world.

This is easy to do. If you’re creating a report on entrepreneurship in Beijing, for example, create depictions of entrepreneurs in Beijing. If you’re giving a presentation on transport in Dubai, make sure the audience knows you couldn’t be talking about anywhere else but Dubai. By creating icons and images that reflect the culture, your design will have much more of an impact.

To see examples of our global designs, check out the work page on our website.