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I’ve been practicing graphic design since 2008 and since then have started a digital design studio, a mini grassroots sports design operation, and worked for a couple of studios. The things that get me buzzing are top sport branding and design, great typefaces, digital marketing and content production and fresh approaches to UI design.

I’m currently employed at the Melbourne Racing Club as Digital Producer (my views are solely my own), as a Creative Direction Consultant for Centre Square Development and for the Dandenong Baseball Association as the Website Content Manager. On top of that I dabble in some freelance work, having closed down my business Flag Digital in April 2015.

Apart from work I play baseball and sit on the committee for the Chelsea Baseball Club. You can also hear me as a previous co-host on episodes 1-63 on the Web Agency Podcast.

If you’d like to get in touch at all please don’t hesitate.

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Easy Wins: Quick Infographics using FF Chartwell

Every designer knows that infographics can take a long time to design, and that the payoff usually correlates to the amount of time sweating over the data and the design. According to this report by the Content Marketing Institute, 40% of B2C Content Marketers use infographics as one of their tactics, and showed the greatest growth in 2014 out of any tactic.

One of the great things about an infographic is that it usually stands well on its own. You can post them to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr and your followers can easily share them. They’re engaging – you’ll get people reading an infographic for longer than your standard players at training photo.

The challenge for a lot of in-house sport designers is the lack of time to produce great infographics. However if you were to spend a little bit of time each week working within a template to deliver a mini infographic each week, the reward will be there for all to see.

For this Easy Win, I’ll be showing you how to use FF Chartwell ($149 for the full family) to create an infographic template that’s as simple as editing text to change the graphs.

Bryce Gibbs Infographic
Here’s one I prepared earlier

Step 1: Prepare your data

Using Excel, bring your data into a worksheet and format it how you need.

Using the Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 9.42.31 pm button, make sure you round any decimals to the nearest whole number, as FF Chartwell doesn’t play with decimals. The graphs and charts aren’t as sophisticated as Illustrator, but they’re a lot quicker. Another thing to keep in mind – the typeface only works with 0-100 whole numbers, so convert numbers to percentages, or divide your data consistently to get a nicer ratio. If you think decimals are the be all and end all, see what difference it makes to your graphs in Illustrator – I can guarantee you won’t need them.

Once you’re happy with your number sets,  save your Excel file as a CSV file, and open in a text editor. Find and Replace every comma and replace with a plus sign (+). When you’re using Chartwell, it reads the + as the break between numbers. For ring graphs, this adds a new line, for line graphs, it adds another point to the line. Chartwell has 7 types of graphs and a number of visual variants on those which you can see below.

FF Chartwell
From L-R: Rose Graph, Vertical Bar Graph, Line Graph, Radar Graph, Horizontal Bar Graph, Pie Graph, Ring Graph

Your final string of data should look like the above. For the AFL Fantasy Points per round line graph, I rounded Bryce’s data to the nearest ten, and then removed the 0:

9+6+10+10+11+12+7+13+11+7+14+11+11+10+8+12+12+9+12+9+11+9

His first round was 93, I rounded it to 90, removed the 0, to get 9. Sure it’s not 100% accurate but we’re talking about a fairly small graph, so compromises must be made.

Step 2: Design and Tweak

Make sure you add your data in first, then colour it, before ‘converting’ it into the graph. Converting is simple, open your Character palette and click the Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 10.07.21 pm stylistic Alternates button to enable the OpenType feature. You won’t lose the ability to edit your data if you do this, which is awesome. Clicking the button again will display the data like before. A quick note: be prepared for the large change in size between the text display and the chart version.

When I added the data for AFL Fantasy Points, the graph looked kinda lame – barely any peaks or troughs, not enough movement. This is because FF Chartwell is always looking at a range of 0-100. If you zoom in to the sort of level of lets say 0-20 for the above string, you’re going to get more movement. To get that effect, vertically scale your text to 1000% (or to whatever amount of scaling gets you the effect you want). This obviously wouldn’t work with the ring graphs as it would lose shape, however it’s a good option for your line graphs.

A great quick feature of Chartwell is the ability to change the graph data colour just by changing the colour of the text. For the ring graphs, the Team number in the string (the string for the third ring graph is 58+67) is using a shade of grey to help differentiate the data.

Step 3: Publish and Promote

Once you’re done, save the template. If you’ve built it with future infographics in mind, you’ll find it really easy to change the player, the data and the text with only a minimal amount of fuss. If you’re going to have a version for Facebook, Instagram etc, the data changes once you get going are still going to be relatively small.

All in all, I hope that it’s a great little idea that you can use in your design world to pump out some engaging content marketing efficiently.