FAQ: Our Infographics and Data Visualization workshop


Our next infographics and Data Visualization workshop will take place in Washington D.C. on December 1-2, and it’s still open for registration (sign up before November 24 and you’ll get our book Look Inside free!). We are often asked about the content of the workshop (see a complete schedule by clicking on the “schedule” tab here), whether participants need previous experience, and a few other things. Here are some quick answers:

  • What will I learn?

You keep hearing about the power of infographics and data visualization, and wonder how you can use them with your content. The purpose of our 2-day workshop is to explain the principles and practical guidelines that will enable you to create powerful visual stories that illuminate concepts for your readers. And to practice them hands-on. The workshop is not about designing pretty decorative presentations but rather about discovering insightful stories hidden behind your text and data, and telling relevant stories with them with high visual impact and accuracy.

Infographics and data visualization are broad fields and we’ll cover all the most important aspects to give you the whole picture:

  • Finding the visual potential hidden in written reports
  • The Do’s and Dont’s of accurately plotting numbers and statistics
  • Telling stories with maps: types and uses of geographic and thematic cartography
  • Sketching and planning explanatory diagrams
  • Design principles: hierarchy, color, type, narrative flow and page integration
  • Storyboarding efficient motion graphics
  • Key concepts in interactive data visualization on the web, including mobile
  • Overview of tools and available resources
  • Who should attend?

Anyone interested in knowing how infographics and data visualization can help transform their stories to make them engaging and insightful through the use of images, maps and data. Graphics designers, journalists, editors, researchers, marketing specialists; professionals of NGOs, Government, Finance, PR working in public outreach to explain initiatives and programs, or seeking to improve the efficiency and creativity of their internal or external communications.

  • Is it theory or practice?

The workshop is a mix that includes presentations on all the different aspects of infographics/dataviz, discussion, and group practice. There will be short exercises scattered throughout the workshop, and a larger project where groups will put together detailed sketches for a large infographic containing multiple elements.

Throughout the exercise the participants will experience the entire workflow of a typical infographic:

  • Brainstorming for editorial and presentations ideas
  • Data collection
  • Making visual choices
  • Designing an effective narrative
  • Putting it all together and making final choices on editing and presentation.

On the first day, the goal of the group exercise will be creating a sketch for print or online static infographic/dataviz. On the second day, we’ll take the same topic to re-think and re-design it as a motion graphic (by creating a storyboard), or as an interactive data visualization (working on structure, navigation, layering and interactivity). The interactions during exercises get really animated and fun.

23854072231_b8e0ca7bce_o img_0994

  • Who are you and what are your credentials?

We have created and published several thousand infographics/data visualizations over our careers, mostly in journalism where rigorous accuracy and clarity are paramount. We (Juan and Samuel Velasco) founded 5w Infographics in 2001. 5w Infographics is an award-winning design and consulting company that specializes in information-driven projects. Today, we have offices in New York, Washington D.C., and Madrid. 5W Academy is our education initiative and organizes the workshop.

Juan was the Art Director of National Geographic magazine from 2008 to 2014. Previous to National Geographic, he worked as a graphics reporter for El Mundo (Spain) and as the Graphics Art Director for The New York Times.

Samuel was one of the original founders of the daily newspaper El Mundo (Madrid), in 1989. El Mundo’s art department quickly became the center of a “boom” of infographics in Europe. In the U.S., he became an Art Director at Fortune magazine.

5W Infographics has won over 150 national and international awards for its work on information design. Clients include The New York Times, National Geographic, Time magazine, Fortune, The Economist, the Smithsonian Museums, and the National Academy of Sciences, among others.

Over the last couple of years, we had over 800 attendees to our workshops in Washington DC, New York City, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Singapore, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Bangkok (Thailand), Manila (Philippines), Jakarta (Indonesia), Delhi and Chennai (India). We also have over 10 years of previous experience as instructors in other workshops and speakers.

Workshop n Amsterdam, June 2016

Amsterdam, June 2016 (hosted by Graphic Hunters)


Washington DC workshop, October 2016

Singapore, March 2016 (hosted by MaitreAllianz)

Singapore, March 2016 (hosted by MaitreAllianz)

  • Do I need any previous experience doing charts or infographics?

No. The workshop is definitely suitable for beginners and you don’t need any previous experience with infographics. It’s a broad introduction to infographics and data visualization where we’ll look at how to work with data, charts and mapping in print and online, and how to design complex infographics with multiple elements.

  • Do I need to know any software experience?

No. Most of our hands-on exercises will be done with hand sketching. We want to emphasize the process of making decisions about the source data, choosing between different visual alternatives to present it, and using color, hierarchy and typography to put it all together as a piece of visual storytelling. It’s about brainstorming, thinking visually, and making editorial and design decisions rather than software details, which would distract from the essence.

You’ll use a laptop (bring your own, optional) to do some general research (looking for source data and background information) for some of the exercises. And on the second day we’ll spend a couple of hours creating interactive data visualizations and maps with the free Tableau Public, for which you also don’t need previous experience. You won’t master the software but will get started and understand its potential.

  • Will I learn any Illustrator/PowerPoint/Coding tricks and skills?

This is not a software training class. We believe that learning the principles of data visualization and how to think and explain using visual concepts is different and more important than learning any particular tool. However, you’ll leave the workshop with a good knowledge about what tools are used today in the field, why, which ones may suit your needs, what they do, and how to expand your knowledge about them.

  • So I can start doing my own infographics right after the workshop?

We think so! If you have a minimal knowledge of Excel/PowerPoint and/or Adobe Illustrator you can be up and running armed with the practical knowledge on which types of charts/diagrams are best suited for your data, how to design your infographics/visualization and some key design guidelines. Plus you’ll be able to think visually in a way that gives you a new perspective on your content, and look critically at the infographics and data visualizations you encounter every day (so many bad ones surround us!)

  • What are the logistics” (venue, registration, lunches, cancellations, etc.)?

Please  our page http://www.5w-consulting.com and click on the “practical information” tab.

  • Will you give any handouts/materials?

Yes, we’ll give you a few summaries or “cheat sheets” of the content of the workshop to remember the main points, as well as the entire presentations (a wealth of great infographics examples and tips) as PDF or Keynote files, and a very comprehensive list of print and online resources to allow you to expand your knowledge about data presentation, mapping, infographics, etc. after the workshop. You’ll also obtain a diploma/certificate.

  • Can I reach you for additional questions?

Please do! Email us anytime at academy@5w-consulting.com


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