Roundtable: Visual Storytelling

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facilitated by Ruth Miller

Areas of interest

  1. Tech products/practices
  2. Development: how to actually design an infographics
  3. Packaging and distribution

Tech Products and Practices


  • Helps to have a tech-savvy staff member, and get software into as many hands as possible.
  • Can be difficult to get software.
  • Open-source or low-cost alternatives can be available: GIMP and Sketch (Photoshop, but web only), Inkscape (Illustrator), Quantum GIS (Arcmap), Mapbox, Tilemill, Mangomaps (mapping).

Mapping: Why are other mapping products better than Google maps?

  • Customized look and feel.
  • Easier to assign data to marker.
  • Arcmap and Quantum are better for analysis than display.
  • Mango and Tilemill are better for display/communication.
  • Google maps is useful when collaborating with lots of people.

How to Design Content

  • Storytelling: What story (or part of the story) do you tell? How do you narrow down and focus?
  • Collaboration is key.
  • Context can be visually supported rather than explicitly laid out in text.
  • Looking for language
  • People may have different kinds of questions: interpret quickly what you're trying to pull.
  • Does the wording or the imagery come first? It varies.
  • Decide whether a story needs imagery or should be an infographic.
  • How to decide what to focus on: trial and error; sketch and doodle, even if you think you can't draw well; train yourself to be brief; get good pens but cheap paper, brainstorm ideas to explore, sketch stories, storyboard.


  • Abby VanMuijen's videos on global poverty

  • Noun Project: a site whose goal is to create icons for every noun than exists.

  • Edward Tufte: an example of narowing down story to its most essential components

  • For kids Photo Voice