Information architecture can be a daunting subject for designers who’ve never tried it before. Also, creating successful infographics and visualizations takes skill and practice, along with some advance planning. But anyone with graphic design skills can learn to create infographics that are effective and get data across in a user-friendly manner.
Below are a collection of resources to get you going down the information architecture and data visualization path. Whether you just want to become more familiar with infographics and data visualizations for occasional use or are thinking of making it a career, the resources below will surely come in handy. There are also some beautiful examples and more roundups to see even more fantastic graphics.
1. Information Architecture Design Sites
Information architecture can be so complex, it’s no wonder there are entire sites dedicated to it. The sites below range from sites of individual information architects who share resources with their colleagues, to professional organizations, to design sites that include extensive information architecture resources.
Info Design Patterns
Info Design Patterns offers up information architecture news (a fairly new section without a lot of content) and a searchable database of info design patterns. The pattern database is particularly useful for those trying to decide how they want to display a set of data to their users or readers. Some of the patterns include:
InfoDesign is an excellent resource for anyone interested in information architecture. They have hundreds of articles aggregated and broken down into categories including accessibility, content strategy, interaction design, prototyping and more. Articles featured on the site include:
- Why low-fidelity prototyping kicks butt for customer-driven design
- Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data
- Creating Economic Value by Design
Information Design Watch
Information Design Watch from Dynamic Diagrams offers a newsletter and regular articles on information design from around the world. They include tons of great, real-world examples of infographics and information architecture designs, and are a great resource if you’re looking for some inspiration. Some of their posts include:
UXBooth – Information Architecture
UXBooth is a community blog about usability, user experience and information architecture. The “Information Architecture” section currently contains only three articles, but the quality of each article is always top notch.
- Complete Beginners Guide To Information Architecture
- How To Approach Categories and Navigation in Blogging
- Usable User Accounts
Design Crux – Information Design
Information Design from Design Crux offers up articles on information architecture and design examples. Both are excellent resources, with the examples being particularly inspiring. Some of their articles include:
- Content Management Strategy, How to Develop The Other CMS
- Information Work Tactics
- Information Applied to Graphic Design: Color Psychology
Cool Infographics is a blog that collects interesting infographics from around the web and beyond. It’s definitely a first-rate resource for finding inspiration and examples of great infographics and information architecture designs. Some recent posts include:
- Visual Map of 30 Free Online Promotion Websites
- Probes in the Universe – Cool Interactive Infographic
- The Timeline of Michael Jordan
JJG.net offers up resources for experience design and information architecture written by Jesse James Garrett. There are downloadable PDFs, articles, and interviews and other resources included. Some examples of articles included are:
- A Visual Vocabulary for Describing Information Architecture and Interaction Design
- The Visual Vocabulary Three Years Later: An Interview with Jesse James Garret
- Information Architecture (an interview with Jeffrey Veen and Jesse James Garrett)
Information Architecture from A List Apart
A List Apart has an excellent Information Architecture category with more than 20 great articles (dating back as far as 2000). Some articles included are:
- Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients
- The Elements of Social Architecture
- Mapping Memory: Web Designer as Information Cartographer
Boxes and Arrows
Boxes and Arrows is an excellent blog that explores why designs work and how to design better based on user experience data. Some example posts include:
- The Information Architect as Change Agent
- Information Architecture: From Craft to Profession
- Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web
Information Design from AIGA
AIGA has an Information Design section on their website with a dozen articles. While it’s not a huge resource, the articles are very high quality and include:
- Designing for Understanding within a Context of Rapidly Changing Information
- Information Design
- About Charts and Graphs
Good Magazine has an excellent collection of infographics covering a very broad range of topics. This is an excellent resource if you’re looking for inspiration. Some examples include:
Flowing Data showcases infographics covering a variety of subjects. They collect graphics from all over the web and explain why the graphic works well. Some example posts include:
- CreditLoan Maps Out Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan
- Unemployment, 2004 to Present: The Country is Bleeding
- 17 Ways to Visualize the Twitter Universe
2. Information Architecture Articles and Resources
The articles and resources listed below appear on sites that don’t focus solely on information architecture. They’re as useful as the resources above, but focus on individual aspects of information design. Some excellent beginners guides and tutorials are also included here.
Organic Information Design
The Organic Information Design PDF is from Ben Fry, and served as his Master’s Thesis at the MIT Media Lab. It introduces a new type of interactive information design using large quanities of data from dynamic sources.
The Information Design Approach to Web Development
This article from Digital Web Magazine offers up a new approach to web development using information design techniques. It’s a great resource for both information architects and web developers.
InfoGraphic Designs: Overview, Examples and Best Practices
This post from instantShift is one of the more comprehensive beginner’s guides to information architecture. It includes advice on how to design around a given set of data and offers some amazing examples of successful information design.
Information Architecture Tutorial
This is a complete tutorial series from Webmonky on how to create successful information graphics. There are five parts, each addressing a different aspect of information architecture in depth.
Complete Beginners Guide to Information Architecture
This is another comprehensive article geared toward those just starting out with information architecture and infographics. It includes some background information, links to notable information architects, resources, and links to common tools used in creating infographics.
3. Excellent Examples of Data Visualization
Below are some beautiful examples of infographics to get your creative juices flowing. They cover everything from pop culture (The Best Beer in America, Kill Bill) to political issues (Presidential First 100 Days in Office) to global environmental issues (No More Fish in the Sea, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch).
4. Other Roundups
Below are a few more roundups of information graphics and data visualizations. They include tons of great examples to inspire you and give you ideas.
- 50 Great Examples of Infographics
An excellent roundup of beautiful designs from FrancescoMugnai.com
- The Beauty of Infographics and Data Visualization
A great roundup from Abduzeedo of some fantastic infographics and other visualizations.
- 40 Useful and Creative Infographics
A roundup of amazing infographics showcasing everything from types of coffee to global warming.
- 27 Visualizations and Infographics to Understand the Financial Crisis
An excellent roundup of infographics related to the financial crisis.
Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with many years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Online Celebrity.