Quarter page infographic for use online and in print
Nicollet Island Coalition (external link)
The Coalition works to protect and restore the Upper Mississippi River by advocating for reforms to the navigation system. This design project came to me by way of Prairie Rivers Network, which partners with many groups that share the goal of cleaning up and protecting Illinois rivers and waterways.
Nicollet Island Coalition was creating a pamphlet about the barge efficiency myth to share with activists and managers who work on river issues. The purpose of the pamphlet was to counter some of the industry-produced propaganda that claims barges are cheap, fuel efficient, and help the environment.
Related and distinguished elements by using color and line
Used color to visually group the two route categories being compared: orange by barge and green for overland.
The route labels at the top of the graphic are also orange and green to create a visual association with the routes themselves.
Distinguished the three transportation types by line type:
- Overland (close dashes)
- Ship (widely spaced dashes)
- Barge (open circles)
These are defined in the legend with an icon of the type of transport.
Created layers of meanings with concise graphics
The route labels at the top of the graphic, because they contain a different number of words, are naturally different line lengths, which subtly reinforces the message that the green overland route is shorter.
The spacing of the dashes and circles along the routes are a loose indication of relative speed (closer=faster).
Kept the graphic simple and uncluttered by minimizing redundancy
The number of days to travel each route are circled and placed on the route itself. Rather than repeating the word “days,” which would clutter the visual without adding meaning, the route duration labels only show a number, with the legend providing the unit of time.
Placing the days to travel label on the route itself, rather than floating it nearby, helps avoid confusion and increases accuracy of interpretation. These circles are aligned vertically to keep the visual orderly and make it easier to scan.
The infographic focuses on the area of the map involving barge traffic and where the routes differ the most. Once a shipment reaches the Pacific portion of its journey, the duration doesn’t vary as much, so this information was not explicitly shown. But this zoom level cuts off the routes to Asia and makes them look “short.” Rather than zooming out to show the entire route, a scaled route duration comparison is shown at the bottom to emphasize the time savings of going overland instead of down the Mississippi River.
Infographic in action
The completed pamphlet, including work from other designers: