Data-Heavy Research Infographics

A technology-focused research team approached Affirma asking for design services that simplified their multi-year road-map outlining innovation in their field. The purpose of this piece was to communicate their progress and aim to secure additional funding for their research.

To achieve this, Affirma created an overview infographic and a detailed timeline infographic to communicate their messaging at different scales depending on the audience.

The design process started microscopic with the content-heavy timeline. Once Affirma gained a deeper understanding of the research methodology and processes, the design team was able to discuss vision with the client and develop solutions to best communicate their message.

The client thinks of their multi-stage road-map as a highway. Affirma studied transit maps and highway planning to research form and function as the base for the infographic. Looping highway systems were a major source of inspiration for our team, and referencing modern transit maps helped dictate our clean approach to labeling and typography.

Once we’d established form, we could focus on theme. As we benchmarked transit imagery, we came across long-exposure traffic photography. This style looked otherworldly and had a similar dynamism to the portrayal of space travel. Likewise, the concept of ‘The Final Frontier’ felt appropriate for exploratory research.

Detailed Timeline Infographic

This design pulls its form from an aerial perspective of a looping highway system. Each loop sections off a different era of the timeline. This helps to group the information and make it easier to digest and translate to an overview perspective in the second poster. We’ve also used scale to direct the composition. Era 3 is the largest loop (and the ultimate goal) so it’s the largest on the map and incorporates a subtle flare to attract the eye.

It was important to the client that this design conveyed a sense of motion. The integration of the rocket illustration helps to achieve this, but also adds a sense of whimsy. The rocket starts at the beginning of the timeline and zooms through each of the loops, traversing each of the eras. It shoots off the poster to persue the innovations of tomorrow.

The timeline tracks three categories of information: Audio Formats, Innovations, and Landmarks. Audio Formats are the most important of the three, so they’re highlighted in gold and paired with custom illustrated iconography. Innovations and Landmarks are each assigned their own color and are simplified as they are lower on the hierarchy.

The client requested we leave room for an information summary in the lower right corner. This area contains the timeline key, as well as a write-up providing additional details and context for the poster.

Once the detailed timeline was complete, it was easier for the client to pick which aspects of each era were most important. The scope of work increased—resulting in the development of two posters. Our approach to illustration and data visualization shifted based on the subject matter.

Overview Infographic

Once the detailed timeline was complete, it was easier for the client to pick which aspects of each era were most important. This overview highlights three key technological achievements to represent each era of research. The purpose of the overview was to show that, as time progresses, performance increases while size and power usage decreases. Innovations and Landmarks were omitted from this poster in the interest of space.

To simplify this composition and make it easily digestible in 60 seconds or less, our team decided on a clear three-column approach. By dividing the canvas clearly, we were able to represent related information in a familiar way consistently. Our team strategically used flares in this design as well to highlight Era 3.

For this poster, we chose bronze, silver, and gold as our accent colors. This is a familiar color hierarchy relating to achievement medals. All three research eras were award-winning; however, Era 3 is the ultimate goal. The timeline below follows this color hierarchy, and lists each of the Audio Formats that correspond with each era.

This project as a whole was an excellent demonstration of the skills Affirma’s Visual Design team is capable of. We worked on a steep learning curve to understand the research and messaging the client was looking to present, and managed to synthesize and streamline that information twice. The end product was widely well-received, and will continue to represent the research team through their next era of innovation.

One of the major challenges of this engagement was that it was constantly evolving. The initial scope of work only included the detailed timeline infographic. As the project progressed, the client’s needs evolved with it. Affirma worked to support the client from both a project management and visual design standpoint to ensure they had an end-product they were proud to present at their presentation.