Tag: infographics

New Year’s Resolutions by the Numbers (Infographic)

https://pixabay.com/en/sparklers-hands-lights-celebration-923527/A New Year Brings a Fresh Start!

Each January, approximately 1 in 3 Americans resolve to better themselves by making New Year’s Resolutions.  A much smaller percentage of individuals successfully achieve what they set out to do at the start of the year and make good on those resolutions.  While 75% of people stick to their goals for at least 1 week, less than 46% are still on target 6 months later, according to a study conducted by University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Losing weight was ranked number 1, followed by getting organized and spend less, save more. You can see the Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions list and the success rates in the infographic below.

The dismal success rate may lead some of us to conclude that making New Year’s Resolutions is, in actuality, counter-productive. After all, who wants to begin the year in defeat?

Will You Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2016?

People who make explicit New Year’s Resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions,” according to The Journal of Clinical Psychology.

That may just be the trick to achieving your New Year’s Resolutions this year!

Feast on These Thanksgiving Facts & Figures (Infographic)

Thanksgiving is almost here and that means millions of Americans throughout the country are preparing for the most coveted meal of the year. . . Thanksgiving Dinner.   Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie will all grace the table as friends and family gather to celebrate this joyous occasion.

Just how much of these Thanksgiving foods are consumed and how much are we spending?  Take a look at these jaw-dropping Thanksgiving fun facts and figures.  There may just be a fact or two that you can use to break the awkward silence or simply as entertainment for your family and friends at this year’s Thanksgiving celebration.

final_thanksgivng post4

SmartDraw Power User Shares Her Horror Movie Collection

Your costume is ready, cobwebs are hung, pumpkins are carved, and a bowl of candy is placed by the front door.  Now all you need to make your Halloween complete is a good horror movie.   Fear not, we’ve got you covered.  With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d have our resident horror movie buff and SmartDraw Power User, Vanessa Neidermayer, share her collection with you.


Being new to the program I spent quite a lot of time using SmartDraw for everything I could think of to really get to know the ins and outs of the tool. I quickly realized that SmartDraw was extremely powerful, allowing me to create anything from a party plan to landscape design of my backyard. Using SmartDraw as frequently as I did, I quickly became a Power User.  As a SmartDraw Solutions Analyst, I am not only able to assist customers, but colleagues as well.


When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time with my Grandma. My memories of that time consists of baking in the kitchen, learning how to clean, and playing with her golden retriever, Homer.

One of my most prominent memories I shared with my Grandma was the time we spent watching horror movies!  The first horror movie I remember watching was The Blob (1958). At the age of 4, I was hooked.

Before the days of steaming movies on such sites as Hulu or Amazon Prime Video, I wanted to have a variety of movies at my disposal.  I am a lover of all things art, but movies and music hold a special place in my heart.  At home we have all genres of movies ranging from documentaries, comedies, dramas, etc.  Being that horror is my favorite movie genre, I first focused on collecting all of my favorite scary movies.  Eventually my collection turned into what I have today.  There is no doubt that I am a Netflix Binger, yet I still love having my collection.  If I am being totally honest, I doubt I will ever stop collecting.


It’s always been difficult having guests select movies from my collection due to the number of movies. They are often overwhelmed as they look through the shelves of movies. In the end, our guests would eventually give up and have me pick a movie for them. During my 1st month working at SmartDraw I realized that I could use the software to tackle this problem. I used two different visual templates to easily catalog my movie collection.


Horror Movie Timeline

Maybe you want to watch an original monster movie from the 30’s or something that has the latest special effects.  The timeline template allowed me to easily group my movie titles by era or decade.

My favorite part about creating these visuals was the ability to be totally creative.  I played around with editing existing symbols available in SmartDraw and importing outside images as well. Importing fonts and applying different effects like inside and or outside glows was a lot of fun as well.

horror movie timeline

Click here to download a pdf version of the Horror Movie Timeline.

SmartDraw Advanced Tips & Tricks
  • Custom Glow:  In the Effect drop-down menu, select Glow. The standard colors and glow size appear.  If you prefer to customize the color and size of glow, select More Glows. In the Glow Dialogue select the appropriate color and size of glow.  This can be done for inside or outside glows.
  • Setting Transparencies:  The ghosts in the background of the timeline are pre-existing SmartDraw symbols. To make them appear more ghost-like, applied a transparency.  Select the appropriate symbol or shape.  Navigate to the Fill drop-down menu to select the level of transparency.

Horror Genre Mind Map

The Horror Movie Genre can actually be broken down into more specific genres such as Slasher, Supernatural, Campy, or Comedy.

I thought, what better way to show my guests what I have then by breaking them down into sub-genres? Sometimes you are in the mood to be scared and sometimes you want to have a good laugh, it all depends. So I created a mind map that broke the main genre of horror down into many levels of sub-genres, containing movie titles.

horror movie genres

Click here to download a pdf version of the Horror Genre Mind Map.

SmartDraw Advanced Tips & Tricks
  • How to set a background image & why:  Instead of bringing in the blood splatter image through the Insert Tab feature, I set it as the background.  Right-click the background of the Work Area.  Navigate to the Page Tab.  In the Background drop-down menu select Picture. By embedding the image in this way, you ensure that the image will always be centered.
  • Title Font: To recreate the 3-d effect of the title, simply duplicate (Ctrl+D) the text box several times and changed the font colors. Place each text boxes on top of the other but offset a small amount.  Then aligned and grouped them together to ensure that they stay in place. 


Adult Viewers



My recommendation to new SmartDraw users is to explore the software! Something that really helped me when I first started using SmartDraw was clicking on each tab in the top ribbon and figuring out what the function of each button in the tab was.


To learn how horror movies are made, read Film and Video Production: How Wes Craven Does It (And So Do We).

Hiking Mt. Whitney: Training Hikes and To-Do’s

Britnie at Summit Mt Whitney - original photo
Britnie at Summit of Mt Whitney

Mt. Whitney stands at 14,505 feet and is proudly named the highest summit in the contiguous United States. The mountain is located between Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest in California, and is part of the Sierra Nevadas. A round-trip hike of Mt. Whitney is permitted only by a winning lottery entry, is 22 miles, and is typically completed over a span of a few days. Myself, along with a group of 5 others, did it in a day.

When Hollie first approached me about hiking Mt. Whitney in 2015, I reacted as I usually do- excited, fearless, and ready for a challenge. Without really thinking, I said yes. Little did I know, Hollie had already entered the Mt. Whitney lottery to get our winning hiking date- June 5, 2015!

Her introduction email came quick, a little too quickly if you asked me. It was February 10th, and I received the following:

“SO…I’ve asked you to join me on a hike…Mountain Whitney that is. We will go up and down within a day. Are you ready?? I want you to come. You are coming! In my mind, you are committed. I am counting on you!”

Within the email was a list of our potential training hikes. We went at the training hard for the next three months. Below is my account of the adventure, along with a legend here for reference as you read:

Timeline legend


Mt. Whitney Post_Timeline Vertical2

To learn how to plan your next adventure click here.

Create an Infographic in 3 Easy Steps


Everyone likes infographics. Infographics are easily consumed and entertain.  They inform by weaving data and visuals together. But there are some of us who feel that they are difficult to create and should be left to the graphic artists of the world.  I am here to tell you that premise is no longer the case.  Creating an infographic with SmartDraw can be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here’s how I created this year’s college football bowl game schedule infographic complete with hyperlinks to each game’s specific website for easy access.

STEP #1.  SELECT a pre-existing SmartDraw infographic template or example

If you have data that you wish to convey by way of an infographic but are limited in your skills as a designer, simply select one of the many SmartDraw infographic templates or examples from the SmartPanel.

infographic - template

I had a printed text only list of the bowl games that I was looking to add a little pizzazz to, so I selected the template “List Infographic – 1.”

list infographic template

STEP #2.  INSERT images, shapes, symbols and text

Next, I changed the shapes to boxes and entered all of the text related to each bowl game.  To learn about adding text, color, and effects to shapes, take a look at the   SmartDraw User Guide: Fundamentals for New Users.  Then, I proceeded to add images of the various team helmets that represented the various football teams playing in each game. Finally, I double clicked my shape, selected “Add a Hyperlink” and entered the url address to the bowl game official website.

infographic designing

STEP #3.  SAVE and export as an image

Once I finished designing the basic infographic, I simply saved the file and exported it as an image file by clicking the “File” tab, clicking the “Export” option and selecting the “JPEG” file type. SmartDraw maintains your original .sdr file and saves your new infographic as an image.

Now, is that easy, or what? Three steps and I have a newly sharable infographic.  If you’d like to see more   infographic examples, click here.

Here’s my finished 2014-15 College Football Bowl Game Schedule Infographic. Click the image for the full size:

college bowl game - infographic

Is Your Organization Publishing and Distributing Infographics?

https://pixabay.com/en/media-social-media-apps-998990/It seems like there are scores of new articles validating the existence of social media and content marketing strategies on a daily basis. And while, in my humble opinion, the question of whether to employ a social media and content marketing strategy seems to have been justifiably answered, what may be the real question is perhaps – are you employing the right content mix?

There are so many forms of content that exist today: blogs, case studies, white papers, videos, etc. So does this mean your organization should embark on creating and distributing various allotments of each?

Not necessarily. In fact, it would be better to churn out high quality forms of content that can be leveraged, consumed and shared across multiple social platforms than simply producing volumes of low quality content; especially if you have limited marketing resources. So which forms of content should you start creating and leveraging?


Chances are that by now your organization has a blog and has invested time and resources into it to validate its authority within the industry. And I’d go one step further and bet that your marketing department spends a lot of time distributing the blog content via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ (among others). And that’s certainly a worthy strategy for continuation. But, is your marketing team creating infographics for mass consumption? Here’s why it should be:

1. Infographics are visual. People are visual learners.

The human race is consuming data at paces never before seen in human history. The internet, social media, and the ever changing technology we use daily allow us to create, consume and distribute it more easily than ever.

And while the devices and applications we use change more quickly than the tires on a stock car by a NASCAR pit crew, how the human race processes information still remains largely visual. Depending on which study you read, the majority of people remember anywhere from 65% to 80% from what they see and do; versus only 20% of what they read and 10% of what they hear.

Knowing that, it only stands to reason that visual forms of content like infographics are far more digestible than case studies, white papers and other text-heavy content. Infographics visually weave data and information in a story-like format that entertains as it informs. The data is therefore in a more palatable state for the masses to engage and understand. In fact, infographic engagement levels are so high that many studies suggest that only videos and photos supersede its power to engage consumers.

2. Infographics are easy to make.

It used to be that visuals like infographics were only created by design professionals using complicated and expensive tools.

But creating infographics doesn’t have to be so complicated or difficult. Tools like SmartDraw can help you create professional-looking infographics more quickly and easily by providing you templates and examples as starting points. Your marketing team can easily create a library of infographics that can be shared and consumed instantaneously via social media.

3. Infographics are easily consumed and shared

infographic-example-best-time-to-buy-smallAs previously mentioned, most of us think and process information visually – which is why infographics, are so easily digested. And when you have more people get and like the information you present, it is more likely to be shared socially.

In addition to sharing infographics on social media, infographics can be useful in presentations, blog posts, and even in PR pitches to third party sites. All of this will help increase your organization’s authority and visibility.

4. Infographics can enhance or replace other forms of content

If done right, infographics could essentially replace or at least cut down the need to create other forms of content from your marketing team’s project list.

How so?

Infographics, like case studies and white papers, tell a story using data and statistics. They just tell their story using visuals instead of text. But don’t let the visual nature of infographics diminish their importance, because the end goal is the same: communicate complicated ideas in a way that they’re easily understood and consumed. And in a lot of cases, a visual can do this better than words alone.

Even if infographics don’t completely replace other forms of content marketing, they can certainly augment them and help increase engagement. Presentations, case studies, white papers and any other text heavy content is made more appealing if you can incorporate more visuals. And studies have shown that having those visuals will help increase understanding and will make your content more likely to be shared.

And ultimately, isn’t that the goal of your content marketing? Easy to access, easy to understand, and easy to share information that helps increase your brand’s engagement and visibility.

Are You a Visual Thinker?

Whether or not you know it, you’re probably a visual thinker. Most of us are.

More importantly, most people with whom we interact on a daily basis are also visual thinkers. So communicating visually offers a significant advantage for those who do so.

In psychology, visual thinking is that which results from perceiving or processing visual stimuli, forms, or patterns. Or in layman’s terms, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Using visuals makes information easier to convey, process, and remember.

But what does this mean to you? Let’s take a look at some examples to determine whether you are a visual thinker.

Visual Thinker Example No. 1. Visualizing  Instructions

Which of the following do you find easier. Directions given verbally (or written down) or shown on a map?

Q. Can you tell me how to get from the Broadway-Lafayette Station to the Ukrainian Museum, with a quick stop for coffee at The Bean?

A. Sure. From the station, you want to go east on Houston Street across Bowery, then take a left on Second Avenue. You’ll go about three blocks to The Bean. Then, to get to the Ukrainian Museum, you’ll want to continue north on Second to Sixth Street, then go left. The museum will be about mid-block between Second and Third, on the right.

Or you could use a map, which lets you “see” where you are and where you want to go.


Visual Thinker Example No. 2. Visualizing Concepts

A new house is built on an empty, graded lot. Few of us are gifted with the artistic or creative skill to look at it and imagine an attractive landscape. Even if the landscape designer meets us on site and gives us this description:

I see an inverted “V” shaped walk path to the front porch, with some large stones, Japanese maples and shrubs in the path divide. We’ll use freeform turf along each side of the path and wrapping around the sides of the house. A variety of trees and shrubs will be placed along the front of the house—inkberry, fatsia, summersweet. Along the perimeter of the site we’ll incorporate larger trees such as abelia, goldenrain, and tea olives. Off the dining area we’ll do a patio with a pergola.

Or do you find it easier to visualize the finished product with a landscape plan, such as this?


Visual Thinker Example No. 3. Visualizing a Process

Have you ever tried to explain something to someone, then in the middle of the instruction, stopped to look for a pencil and paper so you could draw a picture or diagram to make it clearer? Here’s an example of a process that might need to be explained to a new employee at work.

When you receive a report request, first submit it to engineering. The engineer will run a database query and produce a report. You’ll need to review and validate the report. If it needs refining, send it back to the engineer. Don’t accept it until it meets all of the requirements. Once it’s acceptable, you can send it back to the person who requested it for presentation to management.

Or you could hand them a workflow diagram, like this.


Visual Thinker Example No. 4. Visualizing Data

It’s easier to process and remember information when it’s presented in visual format. An infographic is a great way to show important information in a memorable way. Let’s look at some statistics about changes in oil production and consumption, for example. First, let’s use a table.


Now look at the same data, along with other related information, presented visually in an infographic.


Without getting into a discussion about the data and trends, which of these presents the same information in a way that’s easier to digest and remember?

Just for Fun – Visual Thinking Puzzles

You’ve probably seen some version of these puzzles before. This one came from an article written by Marcel Danesi, Ph.D. in an article published in Psychology Today. It’s an interesting read. These puzzles challenge us with “whole-part” thinking. Take a look. How many rectangles and triangles do you see?

Triangle-puzzleAs Professor Danesi points out, these can be frustrating, because it’s not uncommon to come up with a different answer each time you count the smaller pieces of each diagram. These types of puzzles challenge us to look past the obvious, to avoid “not seeing the forest for the trees.”

I’ve included these puzzles to illustrate an important point. A visual isn’t necessarily just a picture. It’s a form of communication that may take many shapes. A visual thinker doesn’t just look at a picture. He or she processes the information contained within it.

But regardless of the form it takes, the visual is a powerfully effective way to communicate almost any kind of information.  Fortunately, today’s technology allows anyone to easily communicate using a wide variety of visuals.

(For the answers to the above puzzles, see Professor Danesi’s article.)

So, Are You a Visual Thinker?

This article is just an illustration, not a scientific test. But chances are you and those around you think and learn visually. Using even simple visuals will enhance the clarity and effectiveness of information you communicate.

Using visuals also makes communicating information more interesting and enjoyable.

“Bright Idea” image created by Nevit Dilmen. Used under creative commons license through Wikimedia Commons.

Winter Olympics 2014 – Infographic and Schedule of Events

https://static.pexels.com/photos/38631/bobsled-team-run-olympics-38631.jpegIt’s that time again for Olympic glory. With the Winter and Summer Olympic Games on a two-year rotation opposite each other, it seems like we are never too far away from the most engaging international sports competition.

The athletes. The medals. The host country. Sports fans around the world attend or tune in to the Olympic Games for varying reasons but mostly for the pride of their country.

And over the past 20 years, we the spectators have witnessed some of the sporting world’s most unforgettable moments. Below are a few fond “thrill of victory” memories. Do you remember when…

Dan Jansen finally won the gold medal in 1994 after failing to do so in 3 previous trips to the Winter Olympics?

Or how about when Austrian skiier Hermann Maier, aka the “Hermanator” dominated in Nagano 1998, just days after a spectacular, seemingly death-defying crash?

Or what about Jimmy Shea’s accomplishment of being the third member of an American family to appear in a Winter Olympics and went on to be the first U.S. athlete ever to win the gold in men’s skeleton?

Just in case you’re wondering… yes, I do remember the Miracle on Ice (hope you enjoyed the video above), as well as the Jamaican bobsled team’s inauguarl entry into the Olympic bobsledding competition but I did state “moments of the past 20 years.” Hard to believe those significant Olympic events happened well over 25 years ago!

Not all memories are so wonderful, though.

Who could forget the Tonya Harding / Nancy Kerrigan scandal surrounding the 1994 ice skating team? As you recall, an associate of Harding’s ex-husband clubbed fellow U.S. ice skater Nancy Kerrigan in the leg. The attack on Kerrigan was intended to boost Harding’s ability to compete on the U.S. ice skating team.

Or the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili just prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics as certainly one of the most somber of memories.

If you are excited for this Winter Olympics 2014 to begin in Sochi, Russia, below is an infographic about the Winter Olympic Games of the past 20 years along with this year’s schedule of events.


What are your favorite Winter Olympics memories? What are you looking forward to most in the 2014 games? Share your thoughts with us, and enjoy the games!