‘Daily Routines of Famous People’ Awesome because of the Stories It Tells

“The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People,” an infographic published by Podio on Visual.ly has become one of my new favorite infographics. Not necessarily because of the content, though it is relatively intriguing to know that Victor Hugo ate coffee and two raw eggs for breakfast. And it’s not because of its compelling accuracy–though I would like to hope it’s accurate (a few sources are cited, so I feel better about it.) I’m impressed with this infographic’s ability to tell several complex stories at once and still engage a viewer. At first glance, this infographic isn’t all that interesting–it’s just a bunch of horizontal bar graphs, right? Not exactly.

Embedded within the content of this infographic is a comparison of historical figures’ lives, a collection of hypotheses about creativity, a commentary about work vs. leisure, a statement about the ideal time to sleep, raised questions about the difference between creative work and real work, and much more. And, to make it engaging, the infographic is interactive–you only get the bits of information that you want when you want it, yet you can still get the big picture and the small picture(s) at the same time.

On the official infographic, when you scroll over each point in the day, you get commentary and extra details.  As information design guru Edward Tufte would say, it succeeds in having both a macro view (overall, big picture stuff) and a micro view (details embedded within and deeper). But what makes it so great is that the micro stuff doesn’t get all clunky or busy. Scroll over, and get the parts that you want.

When you compare the success of infographics online, there is a telling feature of the ones, like this one, that are viewed and shared by tens of thousands of people versus those that are only glanced at by a couple dozen or hundred: the successful ones include multiple and complex stories and they find creative ways to show detailed narrative complexity through visual simplicity.

The image below doesn’t include the interactive nature of the real graphic. The original infographic should be viewed here.

Want to develop a better work routine? Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds organized their days.
Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).