Posts Tagged With: lupton

Final Infographic and Reflections



Reflection 1

The goal of my infographic was to raise awareness about animal mills while also trying to convince people to adopt. I think people still see pet adoption as a less-than-ideal way to get a pet, because pets that are up for adoption are “second-hand.” I wanted people to see how adopting pets can help decrease the abuse animal mills perpetuate, and I wanted people to see that adopting does not mean you will be getting a “bad” animal. I think my use of icons and bright colors helps people clearly see my point. I wanted to use simplistic design to make my message the main focus, rather than complex design. The flow of my infographic shows how popular different pets are in the US, followed by statistics on animal mills. This may seem like an odd comparison, but I want it to point to the fact that many people who own animals unknowingly get them from animal mills. By following this up with details about animal shelters I wanted to show that they are a better alternative to pet stores and direct animal mill purchasing, because many animals die in shelters regardless of their good temperament and clean bill of health. In the end I reaffirm that there are multiple species of animals available for adoption, and I conclude with ADOPT written in large, bright pink lettering. I think I make it clear that adoption is a much better alternative to pet-store purchasing. I wanted to include more information about the pros of adopting, but with limited space and time I found it difficult. Piktochart is also not very user-friendly, so I found it hard to rearrange things, which I would have had to do if I were to add more information. I had a hard time trying to place objects without them jumping around from block to block, and I did not like that I couldn’t have images and text spread between two different blocks. I think it made creating the infographic more linear rather than free form. Surprisingly, I think I actually needed more physical room for my infographic. I would like to add a space that tells more about the availability of animals in shelters, including statistics about the health and breeding and species types of animals. I tried to cram some of that information in at the bottom of the infographic, but I think it would have been better if it were written out.

Reflection 2

I attempted to base my design largely on Tufte’s ideas. At first, I think I got caught up with Tufte’s “chart junk,” because I wanted to show my statistics with actual graphs. I was wrapped up in the preset layout which included charts–at first it seemed “prettier” and easier to understand. When I asked about it and reconsidered the best way to represent my stats, I came to realize it is much more effective and visually appealing to use icons as a visual representation of statistics. In my section about euthanasia in animal shelters, I chose to use cat and dog icons coupled with needles to represent the percentages of animals euthanized. This way, the graphic would not be filled with actual graphs, but visuals that showed the same information. I accompanied these visuals with a small amount of text, the minimal amount of text necessary to get the information across. My goal was to keep it clutter-free and straight forward. I also tried to group the information together, so that everything related could be seen in the same area, rather than forcing viewers to look all over and lose their trains of thought. Tufte believes both of these design choices are important to get information to viewers in the most effective way. Throughout my design I tried to make sure my visual enhanced and informed the alphabetic text, including the pink, red, green, and blue banners on the top section of my infographic. The statistics on animal ownership are accompanied by banners that visually represent the amount of animals owned in millions–meaning the largest banner is both first, and represents cats, which are the most owned in the US. I wanted all of my information to be backed up by visuals throughout, even in subtle ways. I included some arrows to help lead viewers’ eyes to related information as well, which Tufte uses in his own writing. For example, in my section about mill animals, I use an arrow to symbolize smoke coming from the factory. The arrow grows out of the top of the factory and leads the eyes to an explanation of animal mills. I wanted to arrow to serve two purposes. I also chose to use colors that were bright and eye catching. I did this for two reasons–first, because I wanted my infographic to grab the attention of virtual passersby, and second, because I wanted the bright colors to contrast with the information. Of course, bright colors are associated with exciting and happy things, but the information I am presenting is largely not. The contrast should be a bit shocking. Interestingly, the end message that convinces people to adopt does promote happiness and positive endings like the bright colors suggest.


Deciding which typeface to use for my infographic was tough. Like the color choice, I wanted the typeface to be inoffensive and calm. Fortunately, the default theme type included a sans serif header typeface that was long and smooth. I picked this because it was easy to read and didn’t really evoke much feeling. I especially liked it for the bottom “ADOPT” section because the typeface is very clean, no nonsense, and makes the message all the more straight-forward. For the main body text I chose a serif typeface that was equally clean, but a little more fun. I think the rounded, thick bowls seem remniscent of Comic Sans (yikes), but in a more sophisticated way. Again, I wanted the main body to be unobtrusive, contrasting the real message. The most important typefaces choice, to me, is my use of Courier New for my “hard hitting” statistics and facts. I chose Courier New because it is well known. CN is also associated with typewriter-like typefaces. I think using CN worked because typewriters are commonly associated with data, and much of the information I presented in this typeface was data driven. I also wanted it to stand out from the other more simplistic types. Unlike the other two, CN is thin and has tight leading. It stands out and because it is recognizable, it catches your eye.


Overall, I tried to make conscious decisions to follow the principles laid out by Lupton and Tufte. I think, for the most part, the choices I made based on their design ideas has enhanced the way I presented the information in my infographic.

Categories: infographic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Infographic on the Importantance of Breakfast!



Reflection 1

I originally started out wanting to create an infographic on waffles, but I ran into a dilemma: what is there really to say about waffles? This is when I realized that there is so much to be said about breakfast. In this infographic, I wanted to build awareness that breakfast is essential for a healthy life and I also wanted to try and encourage those who don’t eat breakfast, to eat breakfast.  Furthermore, towards the end, I wanted to stress that it’s not just eating breakfast that is important, but what you eat for breakfast.

I start my infographic out with a timeline, which I feel slowly invites people in, especially when they see the “Eggo shortage” point.  After I get my audience’s attention, I share the statistics of the percentage of people who skip breakfast by age groups. These statistics are then followed by what percentages of those skippers are obese. I believe that these statistics alone will shock and draw attention to the changes that need to be made.  Towards the end, I have “building blocks” about nutrition, followed by lists of ways to create, and help any individual stick to a healthy breakfast.  I think these all flow together to help support my goals in educating the world about a healthy breakfast.

I think if I had to write a paper on this topic instead, it wouldn’t be as inviting or as easy to understand. I wanted to show statistics, but not in a way that was boring or repetitive.  However, this assignment did pose some challenges and issues. First, Piktochart separated everything into blocks which allowed for a lot of issues to occur when attempting to move things around. Second, it offered a limited amount of icons that didn’t really apply to my topic. For instance, after we spent a whole class deciding that a coffee cup would suffice for my chart, I had come home and I did not have the coffee cup available any more on my screen (for reasons unknown).  In my other chart, I had different color circles represent the amount of favorite breakfast foods, yet Piktochart made the key displayed as boxes. While I was able to cover these boxes with my own circles, this was a lot of unnecessary work that could’ve been avoided if Piktochart created a better presentation.

In the end, I think this might’ve been easier if I was a designer with some experience on how to put things together in a way that creates a good flow. However, as an experienced writer, I think I was able to create a good piece of writing. A piece of writing is about good content and the presentation of it, not just one or the other.

Reflection 2

Before I even started putting things on my infographic, I realized that Piktochart was already separated into blocks, which made it easy for me to think about it in terms of grids. As Lupton writes, grids “break space or time into regular units,” (p. 151).   On each block, I tried to figure out how I could create grids. For example, the title and explanation (at the top of my infographic) is broken into two grids, while the one that follows (the timeline) is displayed in one grid. I tried to alternate grids to create a better flow, but it also depended on the type of information I planned on displaying.

The information I used in my infographic varies on how it needed to be displayed. The timeline is a great example; it needed to be displayed in a whole block to show the distance of time from year to year. Furthermore, it was shown across the page, because according to Tufte “reading across describes sequence of movements,” showing the movement of time from left to right (p. 33).  I originally had my timeline going downwards, showing movement from an older year to a newer year, but I decided to change it as it didn’t match our metaphor of time. As humans, we often view time as across the horizon, moving towards one year and away from the other.

In the next grid, I display two statistics, which were crafted around both Tufte and Lupton’s theories on information design. Lupton writes that “design and text gently collaborate to enhance understanding,” (p. 7).  I put the percentage in a circle and had it displayed larger than the text it collaborated with in hopes that it would draw more attention to itself, and I believe this technique worked. The number and the text are not directly together; instead the text lies parallel to the number, but in a way that is not directly connected. As Tufte argued, most graphics that have nouns are connected by arrows or links, because “the evidence in variation in connections is stronger than evidence for sameness,” (p. 79). From this, I was able to pick out an arrow/link to connect the two together that provided a strong connection without distracting my audience. When I first came to these two statistics, I wasn’t sure how to display them. Originally, I had just thought that by writing it out as “22% are obese”, it would come off as boring and ineffective. I had remembered how I once read statistics in a magazine that was similar to the way I presented it, and then I recalled the theories presented by Lupton and Tufte, which were right on point. Tufte claims that there should be “no distinction among words and images” (p. 49), and I think by using arrows and links, there is no distinction between the two, at least in this case.

Next to this grid, I show more statistics; the percentage of people who skip breakfast, varying from male and female and from age group. This was originally displayed in a bar graph, which was what Tufte defined as chart junk. It was chart junk because it took information and made it into a bunch of junk that really had no effect on my audience. As Tufte argued, mapped pictures should “combine representational images with scales, diagrams, overlays, numbers, words, and images,” (p. 13).  In this grid, I attempted to do just that. I used the icon of a plate and utensils to display a certain percentage of people. This is what Tufte refers to as a sparkline, or a “data intense, design simple, and word sized graphic,” (p. 47). By displaying this information in this way, instead of the original bar graph way, it provides a greater level of understanding.

Understanding is the main goal of any piece of writing, so it’s important to involve metaphors in the way information is presented, as that’s how humans relate to things. In the next section, I used a squiggly boarder to make the grid appear as a chalkboard. Inside of the “chalkboard” I put blocks, and labeled them as “the building blocks of breakfast”.  I thought that this was a dead giveaway to the metaphor of building up your life to a great one. Furthermore, I really wanted to incorporate movement arrows in among these blocks, to show the relationships of the blocks. Tufte argues that “important comparisons among images should be pointed out by arrows, labels, and other methods of directing attention,” (p. 45). I added the circular arrows and other arrows to draw attention to the importance of each, but also to show the relationship among them.

In regards to relationships among the design, the text relationship to the design further enhances understanding. Although I was limited to the types of fonts available, I made sure each font correlated to the words. As Lupton writes, the goal is “to find an appropriate match between style of letters and the specific social situation and body of content that define the project at hand,” (p. 32). In other words, I viewed each portion of text as a human. Lupton claims that “words originated as gestures of the body” (p. 13) and that they give “language a physical body” (p. 13). I selected certain fonts depending on how they appeared, much like how we judge humans on how they appear. Furthermore, Lupton argues that the contrast between big and small type “creates drama and surprise,” (p. 45), so I attempted to use this technique to my advantage at certain points in my infographic. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that without Lupton and Tufte’s information design techniques, I may not have created a beautiful infographic that enhanced understanding on healthy breakfasts.


Lupton, E. (2010). Type (2nd Expanded ed.). New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.

Tufte, E. (2006). Beautiful evidence (3rd ed.). Cheshire, CT: Author.

Categories: #IAMondays, class activities, diagrams, evidence, images, infographic, information architecture, mapping, pictorial images, technology, tufte | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

breakfast; the most important meal of the day


Categories: #IAMondays, diagrams, images, infographic, mapping, pictorial images, technology, tufte | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Life Application of Lupton’s Ideas on Typography

For this week’s class we looked at Ellen Lupton’s book Thinking With Type (2010). This book describes design principles involving typography. Until reading Lupton’s book, I never put much thought into the typeface I was using. I didn’t even really know fonts and typographies had a history. I guess I sort of assumed they just somehow appeared on my computer. But there is a rich history behind many of the typefaces we use today. Lupton explains the evolution of type, type weight, and typographical design throughout her book in a compelling way that makes even people with almost zero knowledge, like me, want to keep reading.


Admittedly, this book wasn’t my first primer for typography, entirely. In my Publication, Layout, and Design class I had already learned about the appropriate use of certain fonts for specific styles of writing. For example, some fonts are more appropriate for “fun” things, and others for “serious” or “academic” things. I also was told that sans serif fonts are how children in Europe are taught to read, while serif fonts are how children in the US are taught to read. (Fun fact?) But it all seemed basic, and common sense, that typefaces had different purposes. Lupton delves deeper into the design and aesthetic aspects of typography, which I think will be extremely helpful for me in my Publication class and in future endeavors!


One of my favorite parts of Lupton’s book was her explanation of the way kerning and tracking can give different typography a different feel (105). Her examples of different logos provide a visual representation of her words and really show what she means. Tufte would be proud! Until reading this part, and seeing her evidence, I didn’t put much thought into how certain logos or type achieved aesthetic appeal and personality. It is still shocking to me that changing letter spacing can have this much effect on how we view words!


The more I delve into information architecture, the more I want to put what I have learned to use. From Tufte to Lupton, these new ideas about how to present information to readers has made me totally rethink the way I want to write in the future. From the Lupton reading we are able to see evidence of just how much impact typography can have. Tufte shows us some of the best ways to lay out information and evidence. Now, traditional fiction, with standard gridded pages and uninteresting spacing seems flat. So, how can I apply these techniques and ideas to my hopeful future as a fiction writer?


I have been asking myself this a lot throughout the course of this class, and I think it all comes down to the risks I am willing to take. Books are already moving from the print era to the digital era, so why not push things a little further? Lupton talks about how readers from the digital realm have certain expectations for reading. She writes, “The impatience of digital readers arises from culture, not from essential character of display technologies…They expect to be in search mode, not processing mode” (98). So if we can put to use what we know about how people read in this new world, maybe we can work with the shortening attention span of digital readers, rather than trying to figure out how to fix it. I think we should try something new. We should play with type, manipulate design, and challenge traditional books in another new way. Pictures aren’t just for children, and neither is fun typography. In many realms of writing, we ignore the power (or for me, don’t see the power) of typography and graphic-enhanced storytelling. I think it is time we work with these new ideas and see where they can take us. Lupton presents us with a lot of information in her small book, but I find it all to be very useful. We need to understand the power not just behind words, but how we choose to represent them.

Categories: Alphabetic Text Analysis, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

#iamondays Website Analysis: Ellen Lupton Style

Ryan Scherf’s website (, tweeted by @CassieWrites_, is a perfect example of Ellen Lupton’s ideas about “Letters” and “Grids” from her book Thinking With Type (2010). Lupton addresses fundamental ideas of typography in her book and describes the ways in which we use typography in many areas of our lives.

Ryan Scherf’s website uses some of Lupton’s ideas about “Letters” in his headers. He uses multiple typefaces, which Lupton suggests must be done with care and attention to detail. Lupton writes, “Combining typefaces is like making a salad. Start with a small number of elements representing different colors, tastes, and textures. Strive for contrast rather than harmony,” meaning designers can’t just sneak different typefaces into areas and hope we no one notices (54). Scherf does exactly what Lupton suggests, choosing contrasting typefaces and colors which stand out and make viewers pay close attention to his words. Scherf chooses a more sophisticated, architecture-like font in white on a dark background to describe what type of work he does, and what he will be showcasing on his website.

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 1.34.57 PM

He then sandwiches a more playful and colorful mixture of typefaces with different weights and leading to show what type of designing he does, or for what “platforms.” The use of these colors draws the eye down and around, while the different weights make each platform stand out to the eye.

The final piece of the sandwich is his location, which brings viewers back to the sophisticate, clean typeface.

As readers of Lupton will know, choosing a typeface is a big decision. The typeface you pick to represent your business says a lot about who you are. There are things to consider, like the history of the typeface, but there are also connotations that go along with certain typefaces. The two used by Scherf show a clean, almost minimalist classic feeling that seems professional; and a fun, chunky, and colorful feeling that shows a more unique and creative side. For a web designer, I think those combinations seem like a good choice. The typefaces Scherf uses show that he is professional, but also creative. That is the kind of person I would trust to work on my website.

Scherf also uses grids, which Lupton addresses in her book as well. His website runs on a linear grid, where examples of his work are in two columns, running vertically down the page. According to Lupton, linear grids in web design are a good choice for multiple reasons. Most importantly, linear design that uses tables and cells that flow in a line which is the easiest thing for devices for the visually impaired to translate into sound. These devices read webpages in a row by row fashion, so linear design translates most easily and clearly. Also, linear design is best for translation onto mobile devices. While funky, new-age web design may look neat on a desktop or laptop computer, the layout often gets skewed when it translates onto a mobile device. Linear grids in web design work best when there is little room, like on your phone (171)!

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 1.54.30 PM

Within his own web design it appears that Scherf follows these same principles. Although not all of his work is completely linear, many of the spaces containing content are styled in a paragraph-like way that reads like a book. He also incorporates different typefaces in a purposeful manner.

Overall, Ryan Scherf’s website follows many design principles that Ellen Lupton stands behind in her book. He demonstrates his ability as a designer on his webpage. He chooses clean, functional typeface and a sensible grid system to make the most of his spaces.

Seeing Lupton’s ideas in practice helped me get a better grasp on many of her concepts. Now that I am more aware of how to put these ideas to work, I think I will pay more attention to these design principles when browsing the internet. How have the readings for class changed the way you look at things, such as websites, in your daily lives?

Works Cited

Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students. 2nd ed. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2010. Print.

Categories: #IAMondays | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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