On a Budget: Creating Engaging Infographics
Posted: 2/13/2014  |  By: Nu Yang
Newsrooms with limited resources now have a simple tool that can turn complex data into interactive graphics. Just by dragging and dropping the data, Infoactive turns numbers into stories that will engage with readers.

As a former nonprofit web consultant with a background in writing code, co-founder and chief executive officer Trina Chiasson said the idea for Infoactive began a year ago when she saw a huge demand for visual storytelling.

But with that demand, newsrooms also saw a lot of challenges.

“You need a diverse range of skills and newsrooms may not have a team of designers or data analysts,” Chiasson said. “It’s very difficult to do and it’s a huge challenge for news organizations to combine data and design, create beautiful graphics and invest the time and energy. It could take weeks to produce one graphic."

She said while papers like The New York Times and the Guardian have a solid graphics team, smaller news organizations may not, and Infoactive was made especially for them.

As a current Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute research fellow, Chiasson is working with the school on how to integrate Infoactive into the newsrooms. She is also researching how newsrooms produce their visualizations, how long readers engage with graphics, share rates and time spent on the graphic—factors, Chiasson said, will help her team optimize the product.

How Infoactive works is that users input data into a Google spreadsheet or through an uploaded CSV file. Users can work with a few numbers or up to 10,000 rows of data. Infoactive automatically creates a chart based on the data’s content, but users can drag and drop charts, text, maps, icons and other interactive features into the infographic.

Chiasson said users can quickly start to “dig in and play” with the data and graphics, even if they don’t have any design skills.

Infoactive is currently in private beta and will open to the public next month. For early access, interested uses can simply donate $1 to the company’s Kickstarter campaign that has more than 1,000 backers and has raised more than $46,000 (as of press time).

Chiasson said Infoactive is an affordable and more efficient way for reporters to do data journalism, but it is not meant to replace designers and analysts. “It will help (publishers) do more for less.”

For more information, visit infoactive.co.