Infographics: The Why And How

Have you ever viewed an infographic and thought WOW this is so cool, I never thought this subject could be so interesting!

Maybe you have, and there’s no judgment here. Because that’s just it – infographics WORK by adding visual detail that keeps a viewer more interested than if they were to simply read about it. It’s a great way to spread information quickly when intended. 

Data visualization that goes hand in hand with infographics also helps to put a perspective on numbers and statistics that are difficult to visualize without them. Which helps make the audience understand the information more effectively.

In short, this is why infographics are a powerful tool. Complex topics become more enjoyable and easier to understand. If you have a subject that you’d like to communicate with an audience, consider building one – there are many templates available, or you can build one from the ground up.

In this article, we’ll talk about what infographics are, each section within them and their significance, misinformation, design elements and principles, and a simple step-by-step process of how to get started. 

What is an infographic?

Example of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics

Visual information has been around for ages. In fact, cave paintings from 30,000 BC could identify as some of the first visual stories and infographics. Egyptian hieroglyphics in 3000 BC were also very early ways to communicate information visually. 

More modern forms of infographics started to appear around 1786 where William Playfair wrote a book involving many statistical data visualizations. Since then, visual data has grown immensely and transformed to the use of infographics.

Infographics typically have three parts: visual data, graphics, and text. Each bit, just as important as the other, however, they should not show as equal amounts. It’s essential to remember that infographics are widely effective because our brains respond about 60,000x faster to visuals than to text alone. This is a phenomenon termed the Picture Superiority Effect by psychologists.

Depending on the information topic, and the overall layout, the amounts of each part may vary quite a bit. Typically, as long as all three are present, it’s completely fine to vary the amounts of each, but sometimes you may find a larger variance in data visualization as it’s often not entirely necessary with informational graphics. 

My data visualization of visual data, graphics, and text amounts for different infographics

Visual Data

Some of you may be thinking, well infographics are data visualization, aren’t they??

The short answer to that is, yes. However, data visualization is just one piece of the puzzle. They are only one graph or chart which specifies a single piece of data. Where infographics usually provide several different visualized data which connect the pieces of what the infographic tells you. 

This can be illustrated as maps, pie charts, line charts, bar graphs, and so on. 


Graphics are what help tell the visual story. Have steps for people to follow? Use graphic images of what that task is, or a character performing that step. What about an environmental infographic about wildlife in a specific area? Show graphic images of what those animals or species are. 

The graphics are really what make the infographic come full circle by showing the viewers another visual glimpse of why they should care, and often resonates with your audience. 



There should always be text within an infographic. Without it, leaves the viewer room to interpret the data or graphics incorrectly. While data visualization almost always has a key, that still doesn’t mean the audience is going to read it the same way as another. The text helps to keep the viewer on track of what they’re seeing and helps to prevent the spread of misinformation. 

“And the same way that you cannot understand a piece of text If you don’t read it carefully, you cannot understand a chart without reading carefully as well.”

Alberto Cairo

While there should be text, it’s also essential to know the balance of when to narrow down the text. It should be kept simple. If there’s so much, it’s possible that the graphic will look more like another piece of writing only, and won’t keep the viewers interested. 

This infographic is a good example of what NOT to do with your text. It’s overcrowded and visually difficult to look at. There are too many font colors, sizes, and locations to follow smoothly. 

Instead, there should be more white space, separation of groups, and fewer sections of text. This graphic is a good example of these. 

Misinformation in design

A designer can either intentionally or unintentionally spread misinformation. A term also widely known now as “fake news.” It’s essential to take the research seriously and remove any cognitive biases from the work. 

The research must be credible and fully understood so you can translate properly. This is one way to help you to prevent the spread of misinformation. 

For example, companies that specialize in pet kibble will use infographics about the properties of their food and how it supports dog or cat health. 

While it may not be false information, it does promote aspects that your dog is getting the full, proper nutrition from dry food alone. When, if the research is fully done, you’d know that’s not the case. 

These infographics about dry pet food are beneficial for customers who have busy lifestyles and like the ease of use of kibble. Everyone has their own biases, which is why it’s not difficult to persuade those who already believe what they’re seeing, or if it provides some sort of peace of mind.

On the reverse side, biases also show up with raw food diets, like this infographic. This again isn’t false information, but it is meant to persuade the audience to transition to a raw food diet. Knowing when to identify biased infographics will help you to know how to avoid it yourself.

It just goes to show – more information is needed for anyone to make a proper decision. Added text around the infographic helps explain to viewers what they should take away from the data. 

What makes a graphic compelling?

Compelling means that it keeps the attention and interest of its viewers. Simply having the information all put into one place doesn’t mean that the infographic will keep the audience’s focus. Infographics should use design techniques like the gestalt principles, color, and text psychology. 

There are reasons that certain design elements, colors, and text attract the interest of its prospects. 

The Gestalt principles and elements

Some of the most common Gestalt principles are:

  • Similarity. Elements belong together if they look similar. 
  • Proximity/Grouping. Elements that are closer together appear to be part of the same group, and vice versa. 
  • Continuity. Components that are visually associated with each other are easier to distinguish a continuing line if there is none. 
  • Figure-Ground. Objects may be perceived as either the figure or the ground. 
  • Simplicity. Our mind perceives things in their simplest form. Simple is better than going overboard. 

There are also other design elements which can help make graphics more compelling, like balance, emphasis, and unity like they’re shown in this well-done infographic. 

Shown in order from left to right, top to bottom: Similarity and grouping, Continuity, Figure/Ground, Simplicity

Color Psychology

  • Bright, warm colors. These colors energize the viewers and make them alert, possibly with a higher chance of calling to action. 
  • Dark, cool colors. These feel more relaxing and tranquil 
  • Complementary colors. These complement each other and bring out their best contrasts

Beyond the basics, each color is also associated with meanings and different feelings. There’s a reason specific colors are used for different products, actions, or information. Choose your colors carefully to match the content. 

Type Psychology

There are endless amounts of fonts, but each lies in a specific group. The main groups are: 

  • Serif
  • Sans Serif
  • Slab Serif
  • Script
  • Modern
  • Display

And within each group evokes different emotions from the viewer. Depending on the content of your infographic, the font should resonate with the overarching idea. The fonts chosen can promote a particular feeling or reaction from the viewer. 

Combining compelling with effectiveness into an infographic? Follow these steps.

Step 1 – Know your audience. Whenever you make something for general consumption, you MUST know who might take part in it. Not everything you present will be for everyone so your audience will be the driving force in what you make.

If your audience isn’t identified beforehand, the direction of your infographic could result in fewer views and therefore, less spread. 

Step 2 – Find your data. What do you want to share with your audience? What is important to them and how do you want them to be informed? These are all great questions to get you started. 

Step 3 –  Define the scope of your infographic layout. There are many different ways to show your data – and some charts are better than others depending on what it is. 

Statistical infographic layouts are ideal for a lot of data visualization. Elements can include surveys or numerical data that resonates in percentages.

Informational layouts usually have less data visualization and more graphics, and text. The data may not be as scientific with the opportunity to provide numerical charts, but the information is still very researched and refined. 

Timeline infographic layouts are best used for visualizing the history or chronological order of something.


Shown in order from left to right: Statistical Layout, Informational Layout, Timeline Layout

If comparing, a slope chart is effective for this. If comparing multiple groups with hierarchy, a sunburst might be the best option. These are a few less popular graphs that might be more interesting for grabbing your viewers attention.

First, choose the base of where the information will go. Then, the layout for how you will visually demonstrate it. Then, the content – remember – text, data, graphics.

Step 4 – Defining the scope of the style.

colors, and type have psychological aspects behind them which promote different feelings from the viewers. So choose them carefully – make sure the color scheme is with like colors to prevent confusion or too much to look at. 

The type you use also has an affect on how the viewer perceives the information. Especially since there’s likely to be less text than there is visual, the fonts chosen do have a big impact. So again, choose carefully depending on what you’re going for.

Summing it up & Breaking it down

So, there it is – the reasoning behind your WOW’s of taking in information!

Infographics are powerful tools to get data out effectively, and if they’re also compelling, they have a better probability of resonating with the audience. 

Breaking it down – successful infographics will have data visualization, graphics, and text, as well as design elements and principles, no misinformation for cognitive bias, color and text psychology, and developed for a particular audience. Also, an accurate layout for the type of infographic. That’s a lot! But, keep following this article as a guideline, do your diligent research, and practice your design skills. You’ll be surprised how each step comes together!


Bonner, C. (2014, September 15). Using Gestalt Principles for Natural Interactions.  (Module 2)

Bernazzani, S. (2017, January 2). Fonts & Feelings: Does Typography Connote Emotions? 

Bushe, L. (2020). Simplicity, symmetry and more: Gestalt theory and the design principles it gave birth to. (Module 2)

Cairo, A. (2020). How charts lie: getting smarter about visual information. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Cao, J. (2015, April 7). Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design.  (Module 2)

Elliot, A. J., & Maier, M. A. (2014, January). Color Psychology: Effects of Perceiving Color on Psychological Functioning in Humans. 

Featherstone, R. (2014, December 1). Visual Research Data: an Infographics Primer. 

Fussell, G. (2020, May 16). The Psychology of Fonts (Fonts That Evoke Emotion).–cms-34943.  (Module 2)

History of Infographics. (2021). 

McCandless, D. (2021). The Beauty of Data Visualization. TED Talk. (Module 3)

McCandless, D. (2021). What Makes a Good Data Visualization . (Module 3)

Michael Gazzaniga (1992) and Allen Newell (1990), as cited by SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, 2012, via Amazon.

Lien, J. (2019, November 21). The Four Principles of Visual Storytelling. (Module 1)

The Laws of Simplicity. (2021). 

Yuvaraj, M. (2017), “Infographics: tools for designing, visualizing data and storytelling in libraries”, Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 6-9.

Unethical Influences in Visual Storytelling

Storytellers have a ton of power. They can alter perspectives by showing their viewers only what they want from behind a camera screen or by creating misleading visual data. 

With images, the photographer can capture exactly what they intend to, and how as long as it’s possible. Then, the photo most likely goes through an editing process, which may cause some further shifts from the real image. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unethical, though. 

Editing photos is very common, particularly for photographers who do it for a living. And let’s be clear – there’s nothing wrong with having some set prefixes to change general lighting, and coloration so that the image has the right style. 

Also, taking photos from unique perspectives is an art form, and shows evidence of a good photographer. Consider that photographers may have to stand, sit, crouch, or climb to get the angle they desire.

However, editing can be taken to the extreme, resulting in an unreasonable outcome. Over the years, photoshopped images have become a huge talking point as beauty standards are controlled and unrealistic. And many celebrities (particularly women) have spoken out about the impractical edits made to their bodies through image retouching.

One of the top 10 doctored photos is where Oprah’s head was photoshopped onto Ann-Margaret’s body. Talk about being discreet, first of all… But, why couldn’t Oprah be pictured in her own body? 

Similar to stock photo clichés, where, again, particularly women pose in arbitrary settings, always smiling. Why always smiling, laughing, having a good time with seemingly un-funny products or settings? It’s not real, and goes to show that the perspective of women are often controlled by the storytellers. 

Essentially, visual storytelling can be very much unethical by spreading unrealistic standards. And while this issue is more recently well known, I think it’s still one that needs attention. Photographers and editors shouldn’t have the control over what someone else truly looks like. 


10 Free Photoshop Actions for Wedding. (2020). 

Bar, S. (2017). 53 Pics That Show Photography Is The Biggest Lie Ever. 

Calkins, I. (2016, April 11). 13 Times Celebrities Called Out Magazines Over Retouching. 

TIME. (2019). Top 10 Doctored Photos.,29307,1924226_1949540,00.html. 

Stock Photo Cliches. (2011). 

Stop! The Zebra Mussel Spread: The Power of Infographics

Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes (ppssst, the real number is actually 11,842 lakes). If you follow my blog, it’s likely you already know that this is my home state. And with all of the freshwater here, we as residents need to be wary of invasive species that can negatively impact them.

Zebra mussels are a continuing issue as they like to hitchhike on water-related equipment, and move from lake to lake. They’re a known invasive freshwater species in the area, but still, not everyone [who should] knows or understands the significance of the spread of zebra mussels.

Because of this, an infographic is the perfect way to help make anyone aware of what zebra mussels are, why they’re a threat, and how to prevent their hitchhiking. See below for my zebra mussel infographic. 

Zebra Mussel Infographic

There’s no doubt that a lot of detail goes into creating an infographic. To help ensure my graphic was as effective as it could be, I followed some specific call outs from a few articles by Neil Patel. “19 Warning Signs Your Infographic Stinks,” and “12 Infographic Tips That You Wish You Knew Years Ago.”

  • Have compelling titles.
  • Use colors that make sense together and with the information given.
  • Cite sources/use call to actions. See my references listed at the end of this post.

Of course, I also had to follow the steps that I’ve defined from my previous blog post, “How to Create an Effective and Compelling Infographic.” The steps are fairly basic, but within each one, I’m going to describe a little bit more about what went into this process. 

Step 1 – Know your audience. 

My audience are those who live near and travel to fresh bodies of water, particularly in the midwest, United States. Zebra mussels arrived in the US by a contaminated cargo ship back in the 1980’s, so their largest population is near the great lakes. I kept this in mind when designing.

Step 2 – Collect your data.

The data, of course, is about zebra mussels. I learned a lot during this research and made sure I touched on all of my questions to ensure I provided the best information for my audience. It helped me to narrow down to pointing out what they are, their threats, their spread, and what we can do to prevent their continuing spread. 

Step 3 – Define the scope of your infographic layout.

There are many different infographic layouts available, but the layout very much depends on the content. For example, if sharing chronological information, a timeline layout would work well. 

Because my information is just that – very informational, I wanted to section it out per stats and call outs I shared. So, this helped me know to use a sectioned, informational style graphic. 

Step 4 – Define the scope of your infographic style.

As far as color goes, I chose to use cool colors that mimic water and environment, and to also keep the audience psychologically relaxed as they learn about something that might not be so fun. I also made sure to use complementary colors from blues, greens, yellows, to orange. 

With my font, I chose to use a bold typeface for the title and subtitles – something that would give the audience an alarm that this is important, but also organic enough to follow suit with the rest of the design. Then, there’s a secondary title font which is less bold, but still has an accommodating character to it. Lastly, the subject font is a basic sans serif so it’s easy to read and understand. 

The elements I used are all rounded, circular, and organic. By doing this, I kept a consistent feel throughout the infographic. 

This infographic was very fun to create, and it makes me feel proud to share issues related to my home state. Especially now, in the heat of the summer time, it’s essential to be aware of zebra mussels, and to stop the spread.

Infographic Citations:

About Zebra Mussels. (2021). 

Benson, A. J. (2020, March 20). The Exotic Zebra Mussel. 

EDDMapS. 2021. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia – Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Available online at; last accessed June 30, 2021.

Malcom H. (2020). Millbrook, NY; Cary Institute. 

What are Invasive Mussels? (2018). 

Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha). (2021). 

Blog Citations:

Cao, J. (2015, April 7). Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design. 

Cox, L. K. (2021, May 14). How to Create an Infographic in Under an Hour [+ Free Templates]. 

Fussell, G. (2020, May 16). The Psychology of Fonts (Fonts That Evoke Emotion).–cms-34943. 

Patel, N. (2021). 12 Infographic Tips That You Wish You Knew Years Ago. 

Patel, N. (2021). 19 Warning Signs Your Infographic Stinks. 

Sinar, E. (2016, February 14). 7 Data Visualization Types You Should be Using More (and How to Start).

How to Create an Effective and Compelling Infographic

Four Step System

Data visualizations have been booming for the last five plus years. It’s true, we used to find out all of our information from reading it or hearing it in detail, but with the growth of technology comes the growth of graphics, and we’ve been able to present information in newer ways. 

With that, there are good ones and there are not so good ones. The good ones feed us the information in an effective way, and lay out how it should be understood. The not so good ones may provide what looks like effective information, but it may be misleading for the viewer, or done in an uninteresting way (which may not keep the viewers attention). 

For these reasons, I developed a presentation titled “How to Create an Effective and Compelling Infographic.” Throughout the five minutes, I walk through what makes an effective graphic – including how to reduce the spread of misinformation – and the design behind a memorable, compelling one.

I go through a series of four steps to do this:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Collect your data
  3. Define the scope of your infographic layout
  4. Define the scope of your infographic style

To hear more – take a watch below. Enjoy!

In a few weeks time, I will expand on this topic in a written essay. Come back to learn more about what makes information compelling, easy, and authentic to understand. See you soon!


Cairo, A. (2020). How charts lie: getting smarter about visual information. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Cao, J. (2015, April 7). Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design. 

Fussell, G. (2020, May 16). The Psychology of Fonts (Fonts That Evoke Emotion).–cms-34943. 

McCandless, D. (2021). What Makes a Good Data Visualization .

Nediger, M. (202AD, June 24). How to Make an Infographic in 5 Steps (Guide).

Sinar, E. (2016, February 14). 7 Data Visualization Types You Should be Using More (and How to Start).

Visual Mapping – The Elements of Information Visualization. (2020).

Transformations Happen: A Photo Essay

Images from my photo essay: Work Attire During a Pandemic: A Transformation
(jump to end of post to read the photo essay)

Throughout this pandemic, all of us have experienced change in some way.

Something that I’ve noticed happening for me is the transformation of my work attire. Like many of those who can, I’ve been working mostly from home for the last year. So, of course, I haven’t had much of a necessity to dress business casual anymore – at least not fully. 

Pajamas all day every day! Who doesn’t love that!? 

I mean, I definitely enjoy having the option to wear comfy clothes every day. But while that’s a truth, I do sort of feel a loss of routine and individuality through the change. 

Routines help build a foundation to each day, and my morning schedule has drastically adjusted with working from home. And simply put, a lot of that has to do with choosing and putting on an outfit, or lack of that process.

Applause to those of you who’ve kept up with a regular healthy routine while working from home! 

The reality of this is about the amount of change during this pandemic, resulting in the term that’s been widely popular from the start – “the new normal.”

Which leads me to my photo essay! Photo essays present a story through visual images which accompany the text. However, a person should be able to understand the story without even having read the written words.

“Presenting a story through photography communicates a different — often deeper — understanding of person, place, event or narrative”

– Eman Shurbaji in Photo Narratives

The Goal

There are many different types of photo essays. One of the most popular types is one that captures events. Historic events in particular are grabbing and show the truth beyond mainstream media. 

Of course, with the pandemic, a lot of places and events are on hold – so finding one to cover was out of the question. I had to come up with an alternative. My mind went right to making a transformational photo essay, which is another well-known option. 

Because I am the subject behind the photos, and I’m using my experience as a base, this essay may almost come across as a photo story instead. However, the point of this wasn’t to bring up my experience as an individual only. 

The percentage of people working from home jumped from 20% before the coronavirus outbreak, to 71% afterwards – that’s huge! There are also studies which link working and feeling better when wearing nice clothes for work

The goal of my photo essay was to visually show the change in work attire for those who’ve been working from home during the pandemic, through my own experience.

Through the essay itself, it should elevate the understanding of the situation – a new routine which involves a lack of a routine. 

My Design Analysis

I decided to present an artistically visual essay for my photojournalism adventure. The tonal background of the pages transition from light to a dark brown, which accompanies the change of photos of office attire, to home wardrobe. 

The decision to use the different tints and shades of brown bring out the photos as their foreground/backgrounds include these as well. The gradient also helps bring forward the monotonous repetition of getting out of bed, choosing to put on the first thing in sight, and beginning the work day. Browns and beiges are typically used when wanting to bring out other colors, which is exactly what I’d planned for the essay.

As for fonts, I used a Serif for the title, and accents – which promotes a traditional feel for the essay. I wanted it to be strong but classic for the contents of the paper. For the sub font, I used a Sans Serif, which promotes progressiveness that would work well with the transformation aspect. 

My Photo Analysis

Photos that belong in a photo essay must be thought through beforehand, as they need to fit a specific story

That said, after taking many photos, it’s possible you’ll find a new direction in the story with what was captured, and that’s OK too

However, that’s not how my process worked. I had a week to develop a transformational photo essay, which means I had to decide what they would look like and how they would operate early on.

With photography comes different shots – wide, medium, close ups – different perspectives, views, focus, lighting, etc. 

To get different angles and views of the photos, I chose to begin with straight framed shots to focus on the outfits in front of a door for a neutral setting. Throughout the movement, the shots become more wide to show the background of my home office as well. In addition to the wider shots, I also placed myself in a position for the rule of thirds

All together, what makes good visualization includes information, the story, the goal, and visual form. Through using a transition period with the pandemic, information about that period, a goal of showing the transition and how it can affect routines, then the overall design, I think this turned out as a successful photo essay. 

To view my essay, click on the link below! Enjoy!


Campbell, D. (2018, January 22). Why it’s time for visual journalism to include a solutions focus. (Module 4)

Cao, J. (2015, April 7). Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design.  (Module 2)

Dahmen, N. (2017, November 22). How to Do Better Visual Journalism for Solutions Stories. (Module 4)

Fussell, G. (2020, May 16). The Psychology of Fonts (Fonts That Evoke Emotion).–cms-34943.  (Module 2)

McCandless, D. (2021). What Makes a Good Data Visualization . (Module 3)

Lien, J. (2019, November 21). The Four Principles of Visual Storytelling. (Module 1)

Parker, K. (2020, December 9). How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has – and Hasn’t – Changed the Way Americans Work. 

Shurbaji, E. (2014, December 17). Photo narratives. (Module 4)

Smith, R. (2020, September 20). The Science Behind WFH Dressing for Zoom. 

What is a Photo Essay? 9 Photo Essay Examples You Can Recreate. (2019, August 22). 

Visualizing Data

I’m a visual learner. Let’s be real here, there’s a lot of information out there that uses words, but forgets the infographics to accompany them. Do I really want to spend my time searching for answers by reading statistics? No, not really.

Adding visual data helps back up the story, and answers questions. While including a unique visual is more memorable to keep information retained.


This week, I dove into a project that would help my understanding of the importance of visual data and infographics. So, I had to ask myself, how should I do it? 

Sarah Illenberger is an artist who’s known for creating visuals through objects. It’s a unique way to get the information out, especially when infographics are mostly done digitally now. 

Infographic by Sarah Illenberger relating to a sex survey for Neon Magazine.

What a great way to incorporate 3D with 2D! I decided to use physical objects as the base for my design direction.

Research For My Design

For my visual data, I wanted to find statistics relating to the humanization of pets, specifically dogs. Millennials and Gen-Z are consistently raising the average amounts of pets per household versus babies, known as the “fur-baby” trend

“Trend” to me sounds like this will die-out, but I don’t think it will. We’re treating our pets as family members, and because of that, we’re giving them healthier alternatives to what’s been standard for years before.

One huge factor with better quality of life is their food. 

Dry food is becoming less and less popular as it’s majorly processed and less nutritious. Fresh and raw food diets are growing as a better alternative for our pets’ health, longevity, and happiness.

According to a study in 2018, following up from the same study made in 2008, 78% of dogs are provided with some real food in their diet.

My chart from these statistics

This is the data I ran with for my take on visual data. 

My Visual Design

For my design, I created a twist on the sunburst effect, where the hierarchical order goes from the outside (being a higher percentage) to the inside (lower percentage). The data moves in a spiral to show continuity and movement. 

My Visual Design

While the dry food percentage has gone down over the years (therefore not the highest percentage), I wanted to begin with it as it’s been a standard base for most pets. The more recent typical transition from dry food usually starts with mixing it with fresh food. In this way, the spiral also shows an approximate chronological order.

I set up the space as such, using the three elements of visual data.

  1. I used oak tag paper as my Spatial Substrate – the space where the data is created.
    • This is most often seen as 2D while most infographics now are digital. But in this case, it’s a mix of 2 and 3D. 3D for when I set up the space with the objects, and 2D for when the photo was taken. 
  2. The visual elements I used to appear on the substrate are mostly points and volumes. From a graphical perspective, there are also lines.
    • The individual pieces of kibble and fresh food are serving as points and volume as they grow larger or get smaller. 
    • The lines are used as a visual key to indicate the data.
  3. With the visual elements are properties which make the elements less or more significant. 
    • The spiral uses orientation which shows both approximate hierarchy and chronological order.
    • The size/volume of the sections of food indicate a larger or smaller significance to the percentages. 
    • As mentioned before, the colored lines are a key for indication. 

This project was a lot of fun! It’s been a long time since I’ve made a visual design in person rather than digitally, and it was nice getting back into it again.

I hadn’t really thought much about the importance of data visualization before now. I’ve always known them as something added onto information rather than a large factor in understanding said information. From now on, I’ll likely notice myself looking for more visual credibility than ever before!


The Humanization of Pets. (2019, September 16).

McCandless, D. (2021). What Makes a Good Data Visualization .

Pets instead of children: the fur baby trend. (2021).

Sinar, E. (2016, February 14). 7 Data Visualization Types You Should be Using More (and How to Start).

Thixton, S. (2021, April). Majority of Pet Owners Give Their Pets Some Homemade Food.

Visual Mapping – The Elements of Information Visualization. (2020).

Identifying Perceptions and Emotions in UX Design

Zee.Dog Mood Board

Every kind of design has something in common. You have to think of the end user. It’s true, really, designs are made for a purpose, and that purpose is for someone or something! So, how do you design to take a customer to action? Having a brand that’s perceived as intended, and evokes strong emotions within their users is an excellent start. 

To really dig deep into the visual intentions of UX design, I chose a website to analyze and then create a mood board for it. If you know what mood boards are used for, you may be thinking.. Why design a mood board for a website that’s already made? Well, the purpose of this is so I can put all of the thoughts behind the design into action. I’m a hands-on learner, what can I say?!

Before making the mood board, I first had to examine it from a critical eye. A great way to do that is with identifying some of gestalt principles used within their UX design. 

The Brand

The site I chose for this perception/emotion analysis is called As a designer of pet products, and a lover of animals myself, I thought this would be a great opportunity to understand the awesome brand better. So here’s a little more information I found by looking through the site.

The website itself is very black and white. It’s straight to the point, and while the logo has quite a bit of personality, the feel is functional. The interesting part is where the product comes in. They use their product as an enhanced branding opportunity. All of their items are bright, fun, and energetic. Instead of using the website to showcase their multiple color schemes, the product says enough.

It’s the perfect blend of urban and expression – two words used within their brand. identifies themselves as a lifestyle brand for pet products (and have recently opened their merchandise to humans as well). 

Gestalt Principles in Web Design


The product pages are all laid out the same way. Product image angle, lighting, and the items are set up so every one of them looks identical to scale and spacing. With this principle, we can easily group these together as being part of the brand’s elegant organization, and telling the users that each of these products on the page function the same way. 

Zee.Dog Products – Leashes

Enclosure & Figure-Ground 

The main page shows images with text. The styled photos are enclosed by the white background, which indicates that they are meant for a specific direction – to go to another page – as well as that they are the foreground on the page. This meets the enclosure principle by indicating to the user of a specific area with a means to an end. It also identifies with the figure-ground principle by visually showing a soft, white border so users can understand the content to put their focus on

Zee.Dog Main Page


Within the drop downs of the main menu, each group of items are placed near each other. The master product is semi-bold, where the sub-products are listed beneath it in a lighter text. Between each list of products is whitespace which separates them (shown with the yellow highlighted area). This shows the proximity principle where the users can perceive each of them as one.

Zee.Dog Product Categories


Just by looking at the website, you can tell that they take an urban and modern approach to their brand. But how can we see that? 

First, the typography is a mix of sans serif, and modern, which evoke futuristic and elegant feelings

Zee.Dog Fonts

Colors also invoke emotions. Like I said earlier, uses color through their products, rather than the site itself. The colors of products are bold and expressive. The site is white, black, and gray. White can mean cleanliness, black edginess, and gray as neutrality

While each product and product category has different colors associated with it, the color scheme is prevalently bright. Vibrant colors tend to energize the user. This can be helpful for their target market audience, who are looking for something fun and different from the major retailers. 

Zee.Dog Color Example from Website

Mood Board

Mood boards are a fun and effective way to tell the visual and emotional story. For my mood board, I used a futuristic font to write the words “Urban. Lifestyle. Expression.” which are words that describe the brand and website. There’s a photo of a man with his dog in a space outdoors that looks concrete, showing the urban side of dog, human life together. 

The main color scheme is subdued with white, grays and black, like their website. It’s clean and functional. The pops of color are vibrant and energizing. Because I’m thinking this would be a mood board for before the site’s actually designed, I included images of rough dog drawings which could be illustrations for a potential logo. 

Zee.Dog Logo

The textures are simple, like concrete or a chevron to promote the feelings of an urban lifestyle as well. Overall, the mood board is not overly populated, just like the feel of their brand and website. 

I’ve made many mood boards in my day, but I must say that this was quite different, and enjoyable to do it the reverse-way. It really did help me to understand in some way the designers’ thought process on creating their site. From thoughts and emotions in typography and colors, to logistical organization with gestalt principles, I was able to create a successful on-brand mood board for 


Bonner, C. (2014, September 15). Using Gestalt Principles for Natural Interactions. 

Bushe, L. (2020). Simplicity, symmetry and more: Gestalt theory and the design principles it gave birth to.

Cao, J. (2015, April 7). Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design. 

Fussell, G. (2020, May 16). The Psychology of Fonts (Fonts That Evoke Emotion).–cms-34943. 

Telling Stories Through Images

When scrolling through Instagram, do you like a post because of the photo or because of the caption? Or both? For me, I always thought that I liked a post because of the image, and a great written story with it is an added bonus. 

“Instagram is not about photography; it is about visual communication.”

Richard Koci Hernandez, directly quoted from Multimedia Storytelling for Digital Communicators in a Multiplatform World, by Seth Gitner

Well, sure, the image is the driving force, but the written aspect is what brings something full circle. The image of the post should tell the story without words – visually communicating with the audience. When a certain photo draws us in, it’s time to reflect on it. What about it made you stop scrolling, if even for a few seconds? What’s the mood brought forward by the colors, or the subject(s) if any? Where was the photo taken? What was the moment like when the photo was captured?

Then, the written communication brings more context to the image. It’s that person’s true story that relates to the photo which we connected with. The caption could make us, as the viewer, more inspired by the relation, as long as it connects to the visual story. 

This aspect of visual storytelling is what’s called non-dramatic storytelling. The viewer has a chance to make their own connections to a photo before reading why it was posted by its author. Then, the caption brings us to understanding of how it was intended.

Non-dramatic storytelling – an open form of communication which allows participation or interaction to a certain degree.

Bo Bergstrom in The Essentials for Visual Communication

So, the point is that images, stills, graphics – they all tell a visual story. As Andrew Losowsky says it in Visual Storytelling – the essence of visual storytelling is the combination of emotional reaction and narrative information. 

Seven Images and Their Stories

As a part of my own understanding of visual storytelling, I’ve analyzed seven different photos and what they generally say. 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bal Du Moulin De La Galette, 1876, also known as Dance at the Moulin de la Galette

This painting appears to tell a story about a celebration. If you don’t know what the “La Belle Époque” is, no worries, because Renoir illustrates a perfect vision for us viewers. At first glance, there’s no question that the couple on the dance floor, to the left of the setting are the focal point. Then, it’s easy to move your eyes to the subjects who have a closer depth perception, and to see all of the soft smiling faces. Everyone is dressed in formal clothing, drinking and eating from the possible concession stands in the background, then, of course, dancing. The lighting is shining through the leaves on the trees, so it looks like the evening, as the sun is setting.

While there’s a lot going on within this painting, the background doesn’t distract, it adds to the story. Within the four principles of visual storytelling, this setting is not staged, and feels authentic. From this, it can be presumed that the story is a happy, entertaining party evening outside with family and friends. 

This classic book – The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien has had many different covers throughout the years. This one is the 75h anniversary edition, which takes a more modern approach to the original cover. While more modern, it has also been simplified. Regardless, the many mountains indicate much time spent outside, and quite possibly, a journey through them. The big, bright sun – either setting or rising – also depicts many days going by before reaching a destination, or the climax of the book. With this cover, the story genuinely feels like there are obstacles to be had, which is an aspect of storytelling that keeps the audience wanting more, stated by Bo Berstrum in Essentials of Visual Communication

Continuing with The Hobbit, for my next storytelling analysis, I decided to find a movie still from the first of the three movies – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. While the title of the movie literally says “journey,” what else can I inspect about this still? Bilbo is running, and looks to be quite eager – so he’s excited. The background is a beautiful village that looks happy and peaceful; while to the sides of him show a valley in land mass, so it appears that he’s leaving the village behind. This must be where his journey begins; the starting point of the main story. 

Nike Website

This is the main display image on Nike’s website right now. The caption that follows it states “Stability and Support for Miles.” Simple and to the point, the image shows exactly what the caption intends. These shoes are dirty, which imply that the person wearing them has traveled a long way. It also shows the wearers loyalty to the shoes – so they must be worth buying, right? Out of the four principles of storytelling, this one shows relevancy to the audience. Nike’s audience are mostly those who are athletic, and find necessity behind the quality of their performance wear, so the dedication of the person wearing these shoes is valuable to the audience.

Caribou Coffee Website

Caribou Coffee is a very popular chain particularly in the midwest. In the logo, you can see a coffee bean, with lines. The lines continue onto the upper part of the logo, representing antlers – very likely Caribou antlers. This makes me think that the story behind their brand is warm and welcoming, earthy, and maybe even organic. Logos are an essential part of a brand, because it visually represents it within a single aspect. And like Andrew Losowsky says in Visual Storytelling, more than half of the brain is dedicated to visual input. 

Photos that tell good stories involve many aspects, according to Seth Gitner in Multimedia Storytelling for Digital Communicators in a Multiplatform World. One aspect that Gitner mentions is silhouettes. While he does say that they’re often cliche, they definitely can be used to better tell the story. In this photo, there are three birds by water at sunset, and they look like they’re trying to find dinner. 

This is an iconic photo of Albert Einstein which shows a humorous side to him. One that may feel like it’s a misleading part of his story, but is only what makes this a captivating one. The black and white of the photo, in accompanying his age, makes it known that this was taken a long time ago. His hair looks a little out of sorts, and the tongue-out vibe makes it look like Einstein was having fun at the time this photo was taken. 

When we think about the act of analyzing what we see… It sounds like homework. But we do it all the time, without even realizing. There’s always a story accompanied with a visual, and a lot of the time, we digest it without thinking deeply about it. Which is why some Instagram posts pull us in more than others!


 (2017). Graphic Design Meetup: Design is Storytelling. 

Ayiter, E. (2005). History of Visual Communication. viscomhistory. 

Bergström Bo, & Bergström Bo. (2009). In Essentials of Visual Communication (pp. 14–27). essay, Laurence King. 

DeMere, N. E. (2016, May 11). The Power of Visual Storytelling: 15 Stunning Examples to Inspire You. 

Gitner, S., & Gitner, S. (2016). Chapter 1: In What Ways Do We Think about Visual Storytelling Every Day. In Multimedia Storytelling for Digital Communicators in a Multiplatform World (pp. 1–33). essay, Routledge. 

Klanten, R., & Losowsky, A. (2011). Introduction. In Visual Storytelling: Inspiring a New Visual Language (pp. 1–7). essay, Prestel Pub. 

Lien, J. (2019, November 21). The Four Principles of Visual Storytelling.