Understanding the Irish Border – Infographic

Infographics are simply the best for communicating information as quickly as Short Circuit’s Johnny Five can read a book. Moreover, they are brilliant to help EAL students learn facts quickly about a given topic. I mean who doesn’t love a pimped up poster!?

Purpose

For this task I used Canva to create an infographic for the contentious Irish/Northern Irish border; to be used as an exemplar in an Individuals and Societies lesson.

Why create it? The infographic should inform the audience about the concept of borders, and what this looks like for people who cross one on a regular basis.

Target Audience

The first and most important thing was to decide what the needs of the audience are. After all, if an infographic fails to deliver its message successfully to the audience, it’s as useful as an air conditioner for the Arctic in winter or a chocolate teapot. So, here are my audiences’ details:

  • Grade 6 and 7 students
  • Know nothing about Ireland/Northern Ireland
  • Do not have English as a first language 

Armed with this information, I set about planning what and how much information I needed to put into my infographic. In addition I will consider: 

  1. What colour scheme to use? 
  2. What symbols to use? 
  3. Font family, colour, kerning, spacing? 
  4. What vocabulary should I use? 
  5. How to compress the data into easy to read visualizations or effective visual metaphors – as laid out by Anders Ross.

All of these questions will be answered in my infographic, which you can check at the end of this post.

Creative Process

This process was entirely different to anything I have done before. I really did think, then rethink using the questions above, about how this information would be processed and acquired by our Grade 6 and 7 students. I watched Schrock’s presentation of Infographics, went through a lot of the examples on her website, and investigate, with great curiosity, the history of infographics. It was a little overwhelming, given the volume of information that Schrock was gathered, but I feel it can be perfectly summed up with the delightfully simple lego infographic.

Once ready I began to collect the raw data/information that I needed – this is when the real work began…

Research

I initiated my data search. There is more than enough information on the Irish/Northern irish border, as it is somewhat of a sticking point in the Brexit process. But, as I was to find out, not all of it is accurate, and there is a good deal of misinformation out there….

I read reports carried out by the European parliament, articles by reputable news organisations such The Belfast Telegraph and The Guardian, blogs by independents, *an infographic by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, raw data regarding how many vehicle border crossings there are, cross border reports on road crossing by the Department of Infrastructure and the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport! I had all the pieces of information I needed for the infographic, but it felt like I was starting a 5000 piece jigsaw.  After not knowing where to start, I slowly began to sort the data into piles…

Finally, after sifting through all of the above, I headed over to the Flaticon and The Noun Project (not to be confused with Noun Town) to get some free-to-use icons for the infographic. And only then, was I ready to begin the infographic!

Ready To Start

Finally, armed with my icons, sentences, and colour scheme I headed over to Canva to create my infographic! Here are some of the design decision highlights:

  • I used the same blue background colour that is used in the EU Flag.
  • The colour of the transport symbols is the same colour as the stars in the EU Flag. I did this to symbolize that EU member states are free, currently, to cross the border.
  • All transport logos came from the same icon pack in Flaticon, in order to maintain consistency.
  • I used several principles from Design Secrets Revealed, particularly the following:
    • Spacing/proximity/repetition of the icons, 
    • Consistency of logo size
    • Sans serif fonts throughout
    • Capitalized titles
    • Contrasting colours
  • Interesting I used the colours of the Irish Tricolour in the main title, and for the arrows pointing out the border;
    • Orange for the north – to symbolize the protestant majority
    • Green for the south – to symbolize the catholic majority
    • White for the border – to symbolize neutrality
  • Every icon colour* (and key numbers in the text below) is also deliberate as well;
    • Purple for the scissors –  indepence
    • Red for the border length – danger/warning
    • Brown for the amount of crossings – dependable
    • I used different shades of green for all of the border spending icons and key text. I felt that this symbolizes growth, renewal and prosperity. I was careful not to replicate the green as is used in the Irish flag, to avoid confusion and bias.
    • *using colorpyschology as a guiding torch
Created with Care in Canva

Feedback

I did get feedback from colleagues during the process of it, and some changes were made. Their reaction was positive. Some people did pick up on the blue background being the same as the EU flag, but not the yellow in the transport symbols, and in the other symbols. They did like that the vocabulary was easy to process and it stuck to the facts. Someone suggested that I should use different shades of green for the spending icons (I did), as it was too similar to the green in the flag. 

But the final and most important piece of feedback must, and will, come from my target audience – The sixth and seventh graders! I will gather this after the holidays and make the necessary improvements.