If graphics fall short on clarity during a client demonstration, the audience may not trust the credibility of the messaging all together. One of the first concepts we learn as designers is how to make your art look clean and clear of distraction. Whether you need your logo scaled to the size of a billboard or a photograph to display elegantly on your website, the way you save your file can determine the effectiveness of your presentation. That’s why formatting images properly is such an important factor in presenting your work professionally.
Does the process of obtaining a security clearance feel as grueling and unending as Frodo Baggins's quest to destroy the One Ring of Power? Does the idea of "reciprocity" in the security realm seem like a dream from the best of all possible worlds? Do clear and definitive security regulations seem to be as accessible as stone tablets inscribed in dead languages hidden in forgotten ruins in Middle Earth?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you're not alone. Before the OPM data breach, the average wait time for a clearance was 1-3 months for a Confidential or Secret and 4-8 months for a Top Secret. Since the breach, times have doubled on average, and as FSO at Tesla, I have seen individuals trapped in security limbo for three+ years without getting final eligibility. The slow pace of this process poses obvious challenges to individuals with a legitimate need to know who require access to classified and control marked information to do their jobs.
“Information sharing” isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a reality for modern-day government operations. However, sharing is difficult. We learned from the 9/11 Commission that the lack of information sharing was a major factor leading to the terrorist attacks that claimed thousands of lives. Looking at the commission’s report, most Americans shake their heads and bemoan the inability of the federal government to have prevented the attack.
The problem seen with information sharing between the FBI and CIA is not unique to those organizations. It’s not even unique to the federal government. We have all faced the challenge of needing information we did not have or did not know existed.
Did you know that you have access to robust conflict data on Africa? Or that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have made reports on refugee situations throughout the Middle East available to you? What about World Bank project information? Did you know it can be readily found online? Yes, I’m speaking to you, the everyhuman at your desk (or let’s be honest—on your phone). You don’t need to be in government or work for a fancy firm to find this information.
Obtaining a security clearance can feel like the long march to Mordor: just when you think you have arrived, an angry little monster shows up to set you on a detour that eventually involves crossing paths with a venomous spider. And you lose a finger.
What if I told you that the majority of visitors to your site aren't actually reading your content but are just skimming it? The fact is most people simply don't bother reading everything on your page. There are many reasons for this, but they all stem from a simple notion: the ways people read online versus with print are completely different. To have customers or readers spend more time on your webpage and get the most out of your content, you need to understand how to write for the web, but you can only get there if you understand how to read on the web.
The 9-11 Commission stated six primary reasons for restructuring the Intelligence Community. First on the list was that information was not organized. The Commission argued that the importance of “...integrated, all-source analysis cannot be overstated. Without it, it is not possible to ‘connect the dots.’” But what were the dots? Were they data, information, or intelligence? Those dots were pieces of data with no overarching context for their collective meaning because agencies kept their type of data—and likely all their data—separated from other organizations. Because of this separation, the data never made the leap to become information.
As knowledge workers in today’s digital world, we’re constantly bombarded with unstructured information of all types in all formats–emails, news feeds, blogs, research papers, whitepapers, performance reports, market analyses, etc. And information comes at us from all angles, 24/7—from internal organizations, external sources (friendly or otherwise), public websites, and private networks. With the endless barrage, it’s no wonder the term “information overload” has become normalized business parlance in the 21st century.
In an ideal state, too much information would be considered a good thing. Analysts would have abundant data and unparalleled expertise at their fingertips to sift, sort, ingest, massage, and process, thereby creating unique business intelligence and true value for their organizations that improve productivity. But reality tells a different story. The intangible result of information overload is overwhelming chaos in our brains, on our laptops and servers, and by extension, in our larger organizational systems. The basic business result, of course, is lost worker productivity. However, even more debilitating is the lost actionable business insight that’s never created due to the inability to harvest and leverage knowledge quickly.
Whether you’re a seasoned web content manager or a newbie blogger, you’ll likely find yourself asking this question: what is the best image file format to use for my web page? JPGs are everywhere, but what is a PNG? What’s up with GIFs (however you pronounce it)? Rest easy, there’s an answer.
Managing information often results in cumbersome data sets that are not friendly to readers or the poor saps curating them. Whether working through thousands of pages of coded results from polling data or attempting to glean relevant information from lengthy, turgid reports, sometimes we let ourselves get bogged down in mass rather than focusing on that which is salient.
Enter your new best friend: graphics. Recent research found that the human brain processes images at a rate 60,000 times faster than text. The eye is drawn to visuals. Our brains crave information that is easier to access. This isn’t because we are dumb. It’s because reading comprehension is, quite simply, a more complicated task for our minds. A graphic—whether in the form of a map, chart, or infographic—is a powerful tool to convey complex data in a more memorable, marketable, and satisfying way.