Friday, January 8, 2010

Graphic Illusions- How Graphics can be Made to Change Reality

At any time in our lives, especially today, we have to give some bad news about numbers. When you have to give bad news, use a pie chart. It hides the details and and makes it difficult for the reader to grasp how bad the information is. If the bad news is something you want to be known then use a bar chart. The eye can distinguish between the difference in what is represented, unlike a pie chart. This may be why people in government use pie charts for budgets so consistently.

Incorporating graphs is a necessity for most businesses. Showing market dominance and growth as well as how costs have been contained leads to interest by investors. Having someone who knows the best method for communicating your position is equally important.

Howard Wainer has twelve rules for displaying information badly:
1. Show as little data as possible
2. Hide what data you do show
3. Ignore the visual metaphor
4. Only order matters
5. Graph data out of context
6. Change scales in mid-axis
7. Emphasize the trivial
8. Jiggle the baseline
9. Alabama first
10. Label illegibly, incompletely, incorrectly, and ambiguously
11. More is murkier
12. If it has been done well in the past, think of a new way to do it

Personally, I like number nine the most. Besides its humor, alphabetical order rarely has relevance to the data being presented. You may be thinking that these are rules without any context. You can always look them up in his book Visual Revelations. Most of us want to convey the truth. But if the truth is bad then the data is often displayed badly.

With graphic design the customer is always right and they always get what they want. That is why it is so important for us to ask questions and find out exactly what the customer is trying to convey. There is nothing worse then conveying the wrong message.

At the center of bad graphics is the illusion that is given to the eye. There are a number of tricks on the internet to show how the eye can be fooled. These manipulations are a part of what can make us feel better about a bad situation. Something as minor as changing the color scheme along a gradient can drastically change how we interpret a figure.

Graphic design isn't always about art. Today's designers have to be versatile and flexible. Kate Boesch Design is a unique firm that gets this. We offer a wide variety of services to convey your message. Check us out and you'll see our talent is no illusion.

Branding Through Social Networking

Kate Boesch Design has a diverse client base. Our services vary widely and we rarely provide the exact same service to two different clients. This is good because we then have the opportunity to offer something new an exciting to the market. More and more we have needed to offer a way to help businesses brand themselves through social networks. This blog represents an attempt for KBD to discuss relevant topics our customers may be interested in and enhance our own brand.

Choose your social medium carefully. You may not have the time to create pages on multiple sites and maintain them regularly. Facebook is like a shotgun approach to social marketing. The market is broad and you may get a lot of followers but few actual customers. I have yet to hear of a successful sale coming through Twitter. I tend to think that the people being followed on Titter are more likely to bring shoppers to the places they shop at then what they are selling themselves. For instance, if a celebrity were to say they were dining somewhere, that place may see customers they might not normally receive if not for the tweet.

Personally, as a entrepreneur, I like LinkedIn. The people on this site are generally professional and serious about networking. There are also some useful tools on the site to show what you have to offer. You don't have to worry about being poked or flagged and you have more control over content, whereas you may have to police what someone writes on your Facebook wall.

There is also Xing and Zoominfo. These two are connected and are trying to compete with LinkedIn. I have found it odd with these sites that a person can "claim" a person's profile. They apparently gather information, from where I don't know, and you may find that your name and occupation or address are affixed to a profile already. I'm very weary of this approach.

Google and Yahoo allow people to create profile pages, but they are meant to be more social. I have found little practical business use for them that I haven't found elsewhere with better quality. Lastly, never forget the networking value of your plain old email list. Directly marketing to people you have had previous contact with, who are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer, is a great way to build your social network. If your pitch is good then you may create a word of mouth campaign from what you are offering to current customers.

Email can be enhanced through enriching or embedded web pages. Whatever you decide to do, take the time to communicate with your market and make it easy for your market to communicate back to you. Having multiple profiles on the web will allow different segments of your market to find you and respond to your marketing.

In the end, your social networking time comes down to "what is your return on investment" or ROI? So what you are giving up in terms of marketing time to post on the internet should be made efficient through which site can give you the biggest bang for your buck. You buck is measured in terms of time in this case.

I suggest you have a number of web ready graphics and buttons at your disposal. Again, make it easy for your market to get in touch with you and be efficient about how you communicate. A little money spent on web graphics you can have as a communications arsenal will increase your ROI by increasing your efficiency.

Contact KBD to find out how to implement a web marketing plan that is efficient and utilizes the best marketing features offered on the web.