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Illustration case study: datacentre support

The previous example was just one of a number of illustrations based on an ellipse enclosing a number of elements, with connected concepts spaced around the circumference of the ellipse. Here is another example where more information has been added. 

Original version

As you can see, as well as there being four boxes placed around the circumference of the ellipse, an extra number of items have also been added in-between. It is assumed that these items explain concepts related to the boxes on either side, There are a number of issues with this.

Firstly, the icons themselves are a mixture of filled and transparent. The top-right and bottom-left icons are fully or partially transparent. thus allowing the stroke of the ellipse behind them to show through.

The top-left icon doesn’t really make any sense and does not really relate to the concept it represents, i.e. support. 

The bottom-right icon looks as though it has been resized along the x-axis, thus appearing distorted. Also, as discussed in a previous example, there is too much detail in this icon that is starting to be lost as the scale reduces. 

Though it is obvious that the text corresponds to an icon, the design would benefit from these related items being grouped together and isolated from the rest of the design. 

Also notice that the vertical alignment of the text in each of the four boxes is different: some is top-aligned, and some centre or off-centre-aligned. 

Unlike the illustration in the previous example there is only one element inside the ellipse. Whilst it always a good idea to have lots of space in an illustration to allow it to ‘breathe’, there can sometimes be too much space. 


Revised version

This was a fairly tricky design to recreate, mainly because it was uncertain where to place the extra icon elements that sit on the outside of the circle. 

It was obvious that the icon and the explanatory text be grouped together and isolated and, as the design is circular, it was preferential to have these elements within a circle. Doing so, however, and placing these elements between each of the four out labels meant that the ‘jigsaw’ device would be hidden. Therefore, these circle icons were turned into a jigsaw piece and placed accordingly. The jigsaw concept, which is one of the main themes of these designs, is maintained.

One common problem of placing text within an enclosing element, such as a circle is that text needs to be concise. It is a fine balancing act. Within a collection of related objects, text needs to be consistently formatted (same type size, leading, tracking, etc.) whilst at the same time remaining meaningful. Again, as mentioned in other examples, textual elements within an illustration can be explained in greater depth in the accompanying text. 

To get around the issue of a single icon enclosed by the illustration, it was decided to add additional icons to explain a typical IT environment. Here, instead of a single icon, four icons have been added to represent servers, storage, desktop and laptop. This version shows icons only but a label could have been added to each, if required. This, and the choice of icons, would be points for discussion with the client.