3 Things to Consider Before Creating Your Infographic

I have been seeing a lot of cool inforgraphics in blog posts recently, and sought out to make them myself. As I searched. I came across this blog post about a few sites that will help you make them.

I experimented with a few of the free sites listed, and settled on Venngage as something I wanted to explore further.

Email Invitation from Eugene from Venngage to attend Inforgraphics MasterclassAfter I signed up, I received an email from the founder of the site inviting me to an “Infographics MasterClass.” I decided to try it.

The class itself was well-structured. It featured Eugene giving a voice-over of a slide-show.

At the end of the hour-long presentation, all of the slides are available for download, and there is a chance to sign up for a free inforgraphic challenge to continue studying.

All-in-all, I got a lot out of the course, and plan to continue taking more of the courses through Venngage Academy.

The way the course presented infographic development was to think of it like you would a research paper where there is a lot of work that needs to be done before writing begins.


1. Take time developing your topic

When I was teaching 10th graders how to do research, I learned very quickly that a bad thesis could lead to a lot of wasted time and energy. (This is why I always required that my students submit a thesis for approval before getting any research time)

For example, when a student proposed to research why the drinking age should be lowered to 16, I knew that he would not be able to find the right kind of data to support his position.

So, when developing your topic, try to consider a few questions

  • Does this topic have any milage left in it? Has it been overdone?
  • What is the problem, or need for your infographic?
  • Is there a new way to look at the problem?
  • Who is your audience?Inforgraphic about tips to create inforgraphic
For more on creating great topics, check out this presentation.  

2. Get the right data

In this world of fake news, it is so easy to find information online that is careless at best, and misleading at worst. In order to maintain credibility with your readers, it is important that you get your data from reputable sources.

I am partial to Pew Research, and the US Census Bureau. ColumnFiveMedia created an awesome list on any topic you can imagine that will forever be in my bookmarks.


3. Grids and Colors

At it’s heart, an infographic is a visual medium. So, let’s get visual.

  • Make sure to organize your data. Use columns, rows, and white space to layout your information in a way that suits the readers eye
  • Use a monochromatic or complementary color scheme. Different shades of the same color always go together, but complementary colors standout when placed side by side. To find a color’s complement, look at the opposite side of the color wheel, so orange and blue. Here’s a great site that will do the work for you.

 

SEO Training Course by Moz

I have been trying to understand more about digital marketing, specifically SEO or search engine optimization. As I looked around for resources, I kept being routed to Udemy’s SEO Training Course by Moz.

Udemy enroll screen for SEO Training Course by Moz

This course appealed to me for two reasons:

  1. It is free
  2. It is run by Rand Fishkin, the bearded CEO of SEOMoz, and one of BusinessWeek‘s 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30 of 2009

Basics

The course is billed as being for anyone to learn the basics of SEO. It is a series of short videos featuring Fishkin lecturing in front of a whiteboard for 3.5 hours total.

At the end of the course, you can then download a certificate of completion.

Udemy states the objective of the course as “Understand basics of SEO.” However, the information presented requires a lot of background knowledge from the audience. There are no definitions of terms, no explanations of concepts, just a head-first dive into strategy.

Structure

For me, the structure of the course made it difficult to follow. The lectures were good as far as lectures go, but there was no clear way to apply the information to the real-world.

There was no practice and no assessment. No way to check your understanding, or try things out.

As every video starts with a short intro called “Whiteboard Fridays,” it seems that it was intended first as a series of short video features, and not designed to be an entire course.

In that respect, there may be some value in treating this as a series of podcasts from an industry expert rather than a complete course.

Take-away

Bookmark page on browser

This is a course for me to bookmark and come back to (maybe). As it stands, it is a CEO talking for three-and-a-half hours. While it is obvious Fishkin knows a lot about SEO, that format is hard to learn from.

If taken in small doses, and paired with real-world applications this could be a valuable resource. After getting a basic understanding of SEO somewhere else.


UPDATE: In the course of writing this, Rand Fishkin has left his position as CEO of Moz

Adding Tables in WordPress in 4 Easy Steps

I am a visual learner. The easiest way for me to digest information is when it is well organized visually in tables or info-graphics. So, when I first started my blog, I wanted to find out how to do it myself.

While there is no button to add or insert a table in WordPress as there is in the Microsoft Office or GoogleDocs, it is possible to do with some basic HTML skills.

If that idea completely scares you, check out my blog on Codecademy’s free HTML program

Step 1: Decide where you want your table to go

Once you have finished your text in the WordPress editor, decide where you want your table to go. Try to remember a specific heading or sentence so you can find it in the code.


Wordpress Visual and HTML tabsStep 2: Switch to HTML

Under your title are two tabs: Visual and HTML

Click “HTML”

Look through the tags (anything in ) and find the sentence or phrase that signals where you want your table.


Step 3: Insert the Table Code

HTML tables are coded by row ( tr), and then every column is a separate data item within( td). I have created a 3×2 table below, but if you need more items, you can add more rows or columns as you see fit:

HTML Table

If you need an extra column, add td. Make sure to have the same number of td for each row.

If you need an extra row, add (tr). Make sure to add the same amount of data points (td) between the open and close tr.


Step 4: Switch back to visual and add your data.

This is the easy part. Once you have created your table in the code, you can manipulate it as you like in the Visual editor as you would in Word or GoogleDocs.

Your theme will format the font and styling for you, but you can add text as you see fit. Here’s a finished project as it appears on my site:

Example of formatted table

Educate Thyself: A Primer

Bust of Mark Twain

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education” –Mark Twain*

I went $25,000 in debt to pay for my undergrad degree. With it, I taught high school English for six years, then worked as a corporate language coach for two more.

As I look to shift my career focus, I am finding that my degree just doesn’t cut it. I don’t have the skills employers want in my area, and I don’t want to pay for another degree to get them.

So, instead of throwing my hands in the air in despair, I am determined to get the education I need, on my own terms.

This blog will serve both to document my progress, but also as a place to put everything I learn in one place so that others won’t have to look so hard.

*attributed.

Codecademy Intro to HTML: A quick review

When I first started looking at changing careers, I took a good hard look at two things:

  1. The skills I had currently
  2. The skills companies were looking for in my area

When I compared the two, I found there was a gap in my tech skills.

Fortunately, I had a computer and access to the internet, and could find ways to learn what I needed without spending a dime.

I focused in on coding. It seems to be a buzzword nowadays showing up in everything from job listings to children’s toys.

I started with Codecademy’s Introduction to HTML.

You can create an account using your email, Google, Facebook, or Github. Once you create your account, you have free access to Intro to HTML, Learn CSS, and Learn JavaScript. There are more courses available through their Pro upgrade.

Overall, I am quite happy with the program, although I have noticed a few issues.

Pros

Cons

It could be totally free. Projects and extras cost a lot.
It was well-paced. You need a PC to access all of the functions
It was hands-on. There was maybe one paragraph of reading to every action It’s a little dry. The first unit focuses on building a page about brown bears. I like bears and all, but…
It was useful. After the first unit, I am already adding new features to my blog. The desktop app doesn’t allow copy/paste

As someone who learns by doing, I found the structure and pacing of the units very helpful and approachable. I was essentially a novice when I first started, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I absorbed from just a few hours of course time.

There is an old adage that says “you get what you pay for,” but I think codecademy breaks with tradition by providing a free service that can actually add value to my life.

For a narrative version of my adventures in coding, check out my personal blog.