In 1943, five years after it was founded and during the height of World War II, Walt Disney Studios put out an organization chart to explain how the company functioned. What’s fascinating is how it differs from org charts issued by most corporations. Typically, corporate org charts are hierarchical, with each operating division isolated into “silos” showing job titles according to reporting chain of command and ultimate authority. The CEO and SVPs get the higher positions and bigger boxes; the little boxes represent the expendable worker “bees.”
If you have something to hide, design badly and write poorly. Set the text in small type, no leading and wide measure, and use mind-numbingly dull legal language. This approach all but screams, “We don’t want you to read this, but we are required by law to tell you.”
Whether intentional or not, this is the impression given by credit card issuers when disclosing fees and terms. Cardholders who don’t immediately throw out these “envelope stuffers” are often stunned to read about a plethora of penalties, hidden fees and compounded interest. What’s more, the majority of card issuers also claim the right to increase APR or change credit terms “at any time for any reason.”
A new series of engaging commercials for Sprint, done by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, turns factoids and data that would typically go into flat charts and graphs into motion pictures. Real people populate demographic maps. Flow charts flow. Kinetic infographics breathe life into what is actually a bunch of dry statistics.
Pie charts and bar graphs are the crude “stick” drawings of the Power Point world — unimaginative and dull, yet easier to grasp than spreadsheets and algorithms. But in the hands of designers, infographics can be so much more.