September 28, 2012 By Bill Greeves
On Tuesday, October 2, the redesigned Wake County website goes live. Is that newsworthy? Probably not, particularly here in the tech-savvy Triangle region of North Carolina. Instead of relying on traditional methods, we opted to create a comprehensive online media kit for the media and our citizens. The crown jewel of the kit was a spiffy infographic that brings some of the dry facts about the site into a colorful and easy-to-read visual format. I’ve always been a fan of infographics. If done well, they can cover a lot of informational ground without overwhelming readers. This particular one outlines the history, stats, features and drivers of the new site in an attractive format that does not intimidate or bore the casual reader.
Infographics don’t require any prior knowledge of the topic or the format. You don’t need to know anything about our website or websites in general to understand and appreciate ours. Governments have tons of data to share. We’ve got information we want people to know-newsworthy stuff that we need to boil down and distribute as effectively as possible. Oftentimes, we’ve only got a few seconds to catch an eye and deliver information. News releases, white papers and bulky reports won’t always cut it these days, particularly with the wide scale of audiences we serve at the local level.
If you want to try it yourself, I recommend:
1) Define the points of content you want to cover. Think of the big questions people would have about your topic, and answer several of them. (For us, we boiled down the content of a presentation we are providing to our Board of Commissioners)
2) Use a professional designer. Don’t skimp on this one. This is not a DIY project unless you really have strong graphic skills. You need to grab eyeballs and keep them on it long enough to convey your message. Fortunately, we had some awesome talent in-house, but you can find some reasonably priced talent out there.
3) Make it fun! Strike a balance between content and graphics – use icons, avatars and friendly fonts to make it engaging and easy.
4) Test it with some guinea pigs who aren’t familiar with the topic or infographics. The design needs to be eye-catching but content is still king. Acquire and use that feedback to tweak it!
5) When you release it, market the heck out of it through your other channels.
Hopefully, our local media will pick up and share our design. But if they don’t, we still win – we can post it ourselves to provide succinct summary of the new WakeGov.com!
We are not the first people to try this out. I’ve posted some resources links below to sites that have large collections of graphics on all sorts of topics. If you’ve done this, please let me know how it went! I’d to hear more about your experience and lessons learned
The MuniGov2.0 blog contains case studies, discussions and reviews from the convergence of Web 2.0 tools such as social media, virtual worlds and collaborative work sites and the local government sector. This blog will highlight the pros, cons, success stories and lessons learned from the field, designed to stimulate discussion, visibility and consideration for the use of 2.0 tools in the public sector local government level. Hopefully, the content of this blog will put readers directly with the theories and practice of 2.0 in local government and the people who are pushing the envelope in each sub-category or technology.