After creating my ‘comparison of Irish supermarkets on facebook design‘, it occurred to me that people just see the end product and judge it within seconds. Seeing how people work is always interesting, so i decided to create another infographic and record myself starting out on an intimidating blank canvas…
How it all starts
Whether it’s a blog post, a design, a post on twitter or facebook, very rarely is any of it ‘spur of the moment’. Occasionally, i’ll live tweet about a TV show but in general everything is planned and thought about before being published. It’s just a good habit to get in to – if you’re going to post something online for the world to see, you want to be 100% certain you mean it and can stand over it.
More recently, when i’m publishing something on a blog, i tend to ask myself if it’s worthwhile i.e. will it benefit anyone… there are a few reasons for this:
- It ensures i spend my time writing with a view to helping or educating people.
- It generally means content is of a higher quality… (personal blog posts tend to be unorganised rants or ramblings).
- It forces me to learn and experiment more. This post is a perfect example… it only came about because of my last post.
So once i feel something is worthwhile researching or writing about, i’ll brainstorm for a bit looking for angles on how to approach it. I initially thought about selecting 25 Monaghan based businesses but then i thought that’s a bit too local… plus i’d just be picking them at random… ideally i wanted to pick the ‘top’ 25 ranked by turnover or something as it wouldn’t make sense to compare a huge company to a sole trader…
I then remembered that hotels and restaurants are quite easy to rank in real life (thanks to tripadvisor), so i decided to focus on that area, more specifically the top 25 hotels in Ireland. And that’s a summary of how the brainstorming went. I didn’t sit down and come up with it all in one session, i think of things like this in bits and pieces and if it swirls around my head long enough, i’ll bite the bullet and plan it out properly for about 10 minutes. Total time spent brainstorming? Probably about an hour in total spread over a week or more.
Once i’ve got a fair idea of what i’m going to do, i need to start getting in to specific detail. Metrics such as ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ are good at giving you a broad picture of how popular a business is but they’re not really that useful out of context. For example if a hotel that set up a page yesterday got 10,000 likes and a hotel that’s had a page for 5 years has 20,000 likes, then the likes aren’t the important bit because there’s a huge difference in the time period over which they were accumulated. Still, i can only work with what is publicly available and that is ‘likes’, ‘talking about’ and ‘check in’ metrics. Things i’d like to track:
- total posts
- total likes on page content
- total comments on page content
- date of page creation
I could then work out averages and give a much more accurate picture of how the various hotels stack up on Facebook. Anyway, once the metrics have been decided, then comes the boring bit – gathering the data and putting it in to an excel sheet. It’s boring but it’s probably the most important bit. If i go to the trouble of adding columns and doing calculations, i know that i’ll be forced in to presenting the data as i couldn’t live with myself if i just let that data go to waste and never see the light of day. So once i figure out what i’m collecting and have finished collecting it, i’m about 90% finished (in my mind). The design is the fun and easy bit, but it also happens to be the most time consuming and creatively demanding…
If you’ve no experience working in photoshop or with design full stop, then this is the bit you fear… it’s the type of thing i used to fear and ultimately what led me to start designing stuff. I used to watch tutorials and play around with controls wondering how on earth you’d ever use photoshop to create accurate charts & graphs, never mind adding shapes and icons and patterns and all that fancy stuff. That was me about 4 years ago.
When you complete this stuff, you get a sense of satisfaction knowing that you’ve taken something from concept to workable plan to a blank canvas to a high quality, large, custom design ready for publishing. Alone. No team, no mentor, no manager… Rambo style. It could be the worst design in the world or on a topic nobody cares about but in many ways that’s irrelevant – the reward is completing it. Completing stuff makes people happy. It took just over 3 hours to design this single infographic but the timelapse video is sped up 5000% so it comes in at just over 3 minutes. Before i started, i had no idea how it would look or even what i would title it… i just hit record and this is what 3 hours of design work looks like…
I always find there’s something oddly fascinating about timelapse videos… i get sucked in to watching them and i’m not quite sure why. Anyway, i feel this does a good job at capturing the hundreds or thousands of little adjustments and tweaks you have to make to get something looking just right.
I recorded the video on one monitor (using Camtasia Studio) whilst doing some folder navigating, web browsing and adobe illustrator work in another. Any gaps in activity you see are probably due to me focusing on the other screen for a minute or two.