Bite Me Infographic

Data Visualization, Illustration, Print

Bite Me is a sequential infographic, meant to be viewed by scrolling on a computer or smartphone, that examines various physiological characteristics of the ten animal species with the strongest “bite.” The infographic is meant particularly to highlight that while these species have all evolved immensely strong jaws, they are physiologically and behaviorally vastly different; bite strength doesn’t necessarily correlate to brutality or superhero well-roundedness.

MY ROLE
I conceived of the project (and its mafia analogy), gathered the data, and created all of the design and copy for Bite Me.

PROCESS
Since many complex infographics are designed as magazine spreads or large posters, I designed Bite Me to be simpler and vertically sequential so as to be easily digestible on many devices.

Once I’d determined the set of creatures with the strongest bite (the top ten were chosen as a digestible number, and for their comparative strength compared to others), I sifted through other potential points of comparison to find those that would be instructive, focusing on factors of danger and intimidation: size, weight, speed, fatality, and carnivorousness. I added distribution for visual contrast, and further context. I also added scientific phylum, class, order and family hierarchy to elucidate how genetically and evolutionarily different the various species are, despite their comparable biting force (and to further play on the “five families” mafia analogy).

I created the mafia-inspired anthropomorphic illustrations of the ten species to give each one a singular character, from which it was easier to identify with any of them (and therefore to encourage the viewer to care about the data), and to unify the dataset in a way that helps the viewer understand their comparison.

WAS IT EFFECTIVE?
Bite Me is easy to read on various devices, and walks viewers through various categories of comparison in a clear, straightforward way. In addition to this ease of processing, Bite Me’s presentation was particularly effective because it examines the same dataset over multiple variables, and therefore pulls out useful details, like how hippos are the most dangerous of the ten species, but are still herbivores.

Bite Me was also meant as a trial of Edward Tufte’s analyses, and subsequent cognitive science research, on the utility of chart junk and the possibilities for minimal graph design. Bite Me’s graphs have no grid lines, no notches, and relatively few absolute data point markings (which work because the point of the graphs is comparison more than the presentation of individual numbers). The annotations, such as a line marking the “average weight of a sedan car,” do add visual noise, but they also compensate for the minimal presentation of the graph by providing context that is both more relatable, and also adding more of a colloquial narrative to a series of graphs that ties them together, and makes it easier to remember and share individual details from this larger dataset.

The tongue-in-cheek illustrations have also garnered several poster requests, which suggests they are quite effective in giving a little charm to these deadly beasts.

LESSONS LEARNED
It also helped to teach me the power of annotations in infographics. Various notations, such as providing points for comparison like Usain Bolt’s world record, provide necessary context for the data shown and helps the data set as a whole to be more charming and memorable.