I was looking for data on how many infographics get produced every year. I couldn’t find any. The numbers that I did see looked like they were pulled out from thin air. So that becomes useless. But, considering that we see a lot of infographics today, let’s just say – there are a lot of them being produced every year, maybe even every day. Infographics are getting widely popular as a medium to deliver (sometimes) serious data that will capture the attention of the 8 year old in all of us. Bright colors, bigger text and lots of data attract our curiosity to those long and elegantly (mostly) designed graphic files.

For those of you who are still scratching your heads wondering what info on graphics am I talking about – I am referring to information graphics (long for, infographics). They are visual representations of information (data/knowledge). They have been around for a long time but the recent popularity of those brightly-lit charts has been propelled by tech-invasion meets graphic-design. There is data all around us and there are people with attention spans of a skink. Add to that, being bombarded by a million messages at once doesn’t make it any easier. We don’t get enough time to keep our attention on something to assimilate what we see.

So coming back to the infographics, I personally love them. It adds up to my “take the message out” concept. It’s creative. And it’s meant to be fresh every time. It helps convert a chunk of text into something that we can comprehend easily. It makes representation easy with explanation included.

Infographics are used for various purposes. Some of the most popular and viral infographics are the ones that involved technology, politics and lot of social. People use them to communicate a story. And that story can be anything. It could be a social cause or it could be about you. I tried creating a infograph resume, when I was in Dubai recently, for the fun of it. See below.


But I don’t think anyone outside my friend circle was impressed. So I figure my friends were only being nice. Thanks guys! ;-)

There is one thing I have against infographics – they can be so time-consuming to produce. But once they are done, they become a good information source for some time. Though their expiry dates do seem longer than those of texty pages.

Some of the few rules when working on infographics:

  1. Do not start with the graphics.
  2. Stick to the data. Sift. Sift. Sift through the data.
  3. Find the story (in that data). Think why would people want to go through that infographic.

More rules:
4. Don’t clutter. Stay lite.
5. Stick to a color scheme. But stray, if necessary.
6. Think graphic, not text. Think larger.

I recently created an infographic for a company I was trying out for. I got the idea from their ‘about’ page which was too texty for me. And they had some great data points to highlight. See below.


This infographic was created for Redington Gulf – for demo purposes only. Not for commercial use.

I had great fun building the infographic. I think it took me around 2 days to build and it taught me a lot about the whole process – data collection, proofing, design and presentation. At the end of the day, it helped me have some great conversations inside that organization.

Would I recommend building an infographic? In one word, yes. But the challenge is being different, unique in a world that sees at least one new infographic every day. But wait, you don’t have to worry about that. The correct question is – how many infographics is your audience seeing? Chances are they see one every week or month. Building your story in graphical format helps them connect the dots from screen to mind.

If you want to share your infographic idea, please comment here. Or send me an email or tweet me – @ashed.

The Missing Chronicles

June 10, 2012 — 1 Comment

There is a concept in music theory, that I find fascinating, called rest. A rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music. When music is composed, along with all the notes and pieces of music, the composer inserts moments of rest where the instrument or orchestra or band don’t play anything. These are very brief moments that are intricately woven into the fabric of a melody bringing music that lifts the heart of the listener.

Why have I been so silent on this blog? I have been resting – accumulating and assimilating. I have been trying new activities, testing new ideas and traveling to new places. I have met gifted people, made new friends and reinforced the idea that life is definitely worth living.

I feel guilty to a certain degree for ignoring this blog but I am happy that I was able to start new ventures and encourage people to do their own.

I hope to start at it again – writing regularly.

So here’s to the future!

That’s a question I get (used to get) every night. Nowadays, I just ask myself the question. Who was asking the question? My in-house dentist – yes, my wife.

One day I pondered, “What fun if I could make her ask the whole world that same question”. I know, so mean, right? I can picture all you, brush-haters, jeering at me. But it was the only way I could take the focus off me.

If you are still wondering, she started a blog and it’s called BasicOralCare.com. She started late last year and has done a great job at writing some very interesting posts. She talks about the basics like brushing, flossing, tooth wisdom (intended!) and more. She also covers advanced topics on how to identify cancer, root canal treatments and answers questions from readers. And I am proud of her.

I wanted to introduce her blog here. If you find it interesting, let her know. Thanks.

Postcards from London

February 13, 2012 — 1 Comment

I was in London, UK recently and spent very little time there. Actually, I spent 5 days there, four of which was spent at the conference I was attending. Before I caught the flight back, I told myself I had to see some part of London. So I caught the tube (underground railway network – it is one of the most fascinating networks I have ever seen) and got down at Covent Garden and took a long walk.

Here’s what I saw in the Queen’s backyard.

Big Ben in London (View on Flickr)

Trafalgar Square Street Performance with Guitar (View on Flickr)

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One of the things I am glad I am not carrying in from 2011, this year, are the barrage of text messages on my cellphone. Back in 2009, I wrote about mobile SMS spam. Back then, I used to accumulate 51 short messages in 3 days. Early in 2011, I was accumulating 51 messages in just a day! That’s how bad it got. Then the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) came up with a beautiful plan. They said, “No SIM should send out more than 200 SMS in a  day.”

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I got a car. My first car. And it was quite an experience getting it. As the days went by, the experience turned sour around every turn. I was tempted to blog about it but I had vowed to myself that I would not write anything in public till I get the car.

Like any serious shopping decision made, after more than a year of research, contemplation and personal budget analysis, I (we) decided that we cannot do without a vehicle of our own anymore. And part of that research was to find the right car at the right price. Ford India had released the Figo more than a year back and it seemed a perfect fit for our requirements.

We went on July 20 and booked our car at MPL Ford (Taramani branch), one of the dealers for Ford in Chennai. We were told that the average waiting period for the Figo is 20/22 days. August 10 was set as our delivery date.

I don’t want to write about all that happened separately. I captured it all in an email I sent to the Managing Director of Ford India, Michael Boneham

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I am not a big fan of visiting the barber. So the fact that there is a barber shop right next to my house helps.

Anyways, it was not my regular barber at the shop this time. It was a young boy – maybe 16, 17 years old. There were no other customers when I stepped in and this guy was busy cleaning shelves. (Not a  good sign!)

I checked with him and he asked me to wait 2 minutes. And the haircut was on.

He was slow. Didn’t use a lot of water (which they normally do in haircuts). I was worried I was going to walk out of there with a bad haircut. I wanted to tell him to use more water because he would get better control of my frizzy hair. But I stopped myself. (My thought: Either this guy is nervous and he will nick me or he may actually have his own method for cutting hair. If I tell him to do it my way, it may put him off and I would actually walk out with a bad haircut). So I waited. He finished. And it actually looked as if my hair was chewed on.

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Presentations have been a very dear subject to me. More than the actual deck, the whole art of capturing your audience’s attention is what makes the presentation come alive. Unfortunately, I have found no easy way/cheat/hack to get that technique. Some people seem to be naturally good at it while others struggle to make connection with their audience.

The presentation deck is a tool that is used to complement your thought process / talk. But boring presentations are made and sadly, the person writing this is also guilty of the crime.

Michael Hyatt posted this presentation from Slideshare today. It is a great presentation by Jesse Desjardins and I strongly recommend going through these slides for some great points and ideas.

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I did a simple Google search on managing tradeshows and I noticed a lot of stuff on tradeshow management was written by booth suppliers or vendors and there were none really written by company personnel (like me) sharing their experiences on and off the show floor. So here’s my series on tradeshows/event management.

Tradeshow Bookings start early

I will start with four rules that I use every year.

  1. Start early.Think 1 year. For those of you who haven’t gotten into the rhythm of the events tune, one year may sound like a lot of time. But it is true, a lot of things can happen before one year. For one, all the key slots/booth spaces for next year’s event get booked at this year’s show. So if you want a good spot for next year’s show, make sure you meet with your sales rep during the show.What if you weren’t at this year’s show or you decided to do the show for the first time? Then you don’t have a choice. Try to book the show as early as possible to get best pricing and a good location. More than the pricing, it is the location that matters.
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We wrapped the ManageEngine User Conference in New York City this week (March 22, 23). It was a great show – in terms of content, participation and energy. We had a packed room at Park Central Hotel – 112 attendees, excluding the organizers.

In terms of content, we had a great keynote presentation from Dennis Drogseth, vice president, Enterprise Management Associates followed by presentations by ManageEngine personnel and customers. We also had a customer panel chaired by Dennis, which got very exciting – we extended it by 30 minutes. You can read more about the event here and here.

Some pictures* from the event:

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On March 19, we witnessed the SuperMoon. The term “SuperMoon” was coined in 1979 by Richard Nolle and defined as

“a new or full moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth.”(quoted from the Wikipedia page)

SuperMoons occur every year as the moon orbits the earth. But the supermoon that occurred on March 19, 2011 is one of the closest in 18 years. More details here.

Took some pictures last night. The moon looked the same to the naked eye like any other night except it was brighter. But when I looked through my lens, it was definitely bigger than the last time I captured it. Here is what I saw:

Shades of SuperMoon - a play with white balance

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You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But the cover of the book is what makes –

  • the reader pick your book from the book rack.
  • the recruiter choose your resume to read from the pile.
  • a girl look at you in a crowded club.
  • the impression you make when you walk into a room of strangers.

When you think design, do not limit it to the usage of colors and images or to what is printed on paper or on a website. Design encompasses the layout within a retail shop, the font style, size and structure on a research report or even the clothes you wear everyday.

If you notice all successful businesses, books, artists, people – they all have good design. I have yet to find something great but with poor, crappy design.

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